A collection of short stories by the popular and influential Russian author, a founder of the socialist realism literary method and arguably the greatest Russian literary figure of the 20th century. He wrote stories, plays, memoirs and novels which touched the imagination of the Russian people, and was the first Russian author to write sympathetically of such characters as tramps and thieves, emphasizing their daily struggles against overwhelming odds. (less)
In 'Twenty-Six Girl' the men slaving in a bakery exult the pretty innocence of a sixteen year old girl who they see each morning, then a boastful newcomer turns his amorous attentions her way. An allegory for the difficulties of retaining faith or modesty in a sordid world.
Then in 'Chelkash' a smuggler takes advantage of an ignorant peasant down on his luck. The psychological results of their short liason are fascinatingly played out by Gorky.
The closing 'On a Raft' is both haunting and depraved. Apparently there is an ancient Russian custom where the father of a bridegroom had first dibs (for want of a better phrase) on his son's wife. This boat trip on the Volga is striking material with which to illustrate the difficulty of attaining spiritual purity in a material world.
Creatures that once were men -- Twenty-six men and a girl -- Chelkash -- My fellow-traveller -- On a raft.