The Mother (Russian: Мать) is a novel written by Maxim Gorky in 1906 about revolutionary factory workers. 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.
The 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.Nevertheless, it remains the best known work of Gorky among the author’s other important novels.While on a trip to the United States in 1906, he wrote the novel. 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.
Gorky was personally connected to the novel as the novel 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.
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
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