Mother (Gorky novel)

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Book cover of The Mother (novel) by Maxim Gorky.jpg
AuthorMaxim Gorky
Original titleМать
Publication date
Published in English

Mother (Russian: Мать) is a novel written by Maxim Gorky in 1906 about revolutionary factory workers. It was first published, in English, in Appleton's Magazine in 1906,[1] then in Russian in 1907.

The work was translated into many languages, and was made into a number of films. The German playwright Bertolt Brecht and his collaborators based their 1932 play The Mother on this novel.


Mother is considered to be the only long work of Gorky on the Russian revolutionary movement; however, of all his novels, it is possibly the least successful.[2] Nevertheless, it remains the best known work of Gorky among the author's other important novels.[3] He wrote the novel on a trip to the United States in 1906. The political agenda behind the novel was clear. In 1905, after the defeat of Russian's first revolution, Gorky tried to raise the spirit of the proletarian movement by conveying the political agenda among the readers through his work. He was trying to raise spirit among the revolutionaries to battle the defeatist mood.[3]

Gorky was personally connected to the novel as it is based on real life events, revolving around Anna Zalomova and her son Piotr Zalomov. Gorky, being a distant relative of Anna Zalomova who visited Gorky's family when he was a child, had a deeper connection to the story. The event took place during a May Day demonstration in Sormovo in 1902. The shipbuilding town of Sormovo was near Gorky's native town, Nizhny Novgorod, where after the arrest of Piotr Zalomov by tsarist police, his mother, Anna Zalomova followed him into revolutionary activity.[3][4]


In his novel, Gorky portrays the life of a woman who works in a Russian factory doing hard manual labour and combating poverty and hunger, among other hardships. Pelageya Nilovna Vlasova is the real protagonist; her husband, a heavy drunkard, physically assaults her and leaves all the responsibility for raising their son, Pavel Vlasov, to her, but unexpectedly dies. Pavel noticeably begins to emulate his father in his drunkenness and stammer, but suddenly becomes involved in revolutionary activities. Abandoning drinking, Pavel starts to bring books to his home. Being illiterate and having no political interest, Nilovna is at first cautious about Pavel's new activities. However, she wants to help him. Pavel is shown as the main revolutionary character. Nevertheless Nilovna, moved by her maternal feelings and, though uneducated, overcoming her political ignorance to become involved in revolution, is considered the true protagonist of the novel.[3]


Being considered one of the most influential novel of the century worldwide,[5] Mother was made in 1926 into a silent film under Vsevolod Pudovkin's direction with the same name.[6] In the following years, in 1932 the novel was dramatized into a play by German playwright Bertolt Brecht in Die Mutter.[7] In the later years, the novel was adapted in two other films of the same name. Mark Donskoy's Mother which released in 1955 and Gleb Panfilov's Mother (1990).[8]


  1. ^ "Mother". Appleton's Magazine. Vol. VII. New York. July–December 1906. pp. 721ff.
  2. ^ "Maksim Gorky". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Sollars, Michael David; Jennings, Arbolina Llamas, eds. (April 22, 2015). Encyclopedia of the World Novel Companion to literature. Infobase Learning. p. 1409. ISBN 9781438140735.
  4. ^ Margaret Wettlin (2008). Maxim Gorky Mother. Read Books. ISBN 9781443724784.
  5. ^ Paul D. Morris. Representation and the Twentieth-century Novel: Studies in Gorky, Joyce and Pynchon. Königshausen & Neumann. p. 85. ISBN 9783826030345.
  6. ^ Hutchings, Stephen; Vernitskaia, Anat, eds. (2004). Russian and Soviet Film Adaptations of Literature, 1900–2001: Screening the Word. Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 9781134400584.
  7. ^ Willett, John (1959). The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht: A Study from Eight Aspects. London: Methuen. p. 45. ISBN 0-413-34360-X.
  8. ^ Sabine Haenni; Sarah Barrow; John White (2014). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Films. Routledge. p. 185. ISBN 9781317682615.