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The Lower Depths


The Lower Depths


The Lower Depths portrays a hideous and filthy lodging house, where gather such social derelicts as a thief, a gambler, an ex-artist, an ex-aristocrat, and a prostitute.

All of them had at one time an ambition, a goal, but because of their lack of will and the injustice and cruelty of the world, they were forced into the depths and cast back whenever they attempted to rise.

No stronger indictment than The Lower Depths is to be found in contemporary literature of our civilization that condemns thousands — often the very best of us — to the fate of the Vaskas and Anyas, doomed as superfluous and unnecessary in society.

If within our social conditions they are viewed as useless, or vicious and detrimental to the general good, it is because they have been denied opportunity and forced into conditions that kill their faith in themselves and all that is best in their natures.

They are the superfluous ones, dehumanized and brutalized.

Maxim Gorky is saying that the depravity and crimes of the derelicts are fundamentally the depravity and anti-social attitude of Society itself that first creates the underworld and then having created it, wastes much energy and effort in suppressing and destroying the menacing phantom of its own making — forgetful of the elemental brotherhood of man, blind to the value of the individual, and ignorant of the possibilities inherent in even the most despised children of the depths.

MAXIM GORKY (1868-1936) was a Russian writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method and a political activist, a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Among his most famous works are Children of the Sun, and The Philistines.


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