Maxim Gorky

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Plays by Maxim Gorky

Children of the Sun

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Maxim Gorky's play Children of the Sun is a Chekhovian family drama, written while its author was briefly imprisoned in Saint Petersburg's Peter and Paul Fortress during the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905. It was initially banned, but the imperial authorities allowed it to premiere on 24 October 1905 at the Moscow Art Theatre.

This translation by Stephen Mulrine was published by Nick Hern Books in its Drama Classics series in 2000.

The play's title refers to Russia's privileged intelligentsia, epitomised by Protasov, who is high-minded and idealistic but out of touch with the reality of life, especially for the working classes. The play is set during one of the cholera epidemics of the previous century, but was universally understood to relate to contemporary events, and has come to be seen as a prophetic echo of the coming revolution.

Enemies

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

1905. Russia is at a turning point. Zakhar Bardin is from the landowning class, but is now the uneasy owner of a factory. His managing director is determined to face down militant workers on a point of principle. But the shutting of the business has tragic consequences for everyone concerned.

Gorky's extraordinary play, which was written in exile and banned in his home country, presents a panoramic view of a restless society, with a bourgeoisie no longer sure of its own values, and a working class steadily facing up to the terrifying sacrifices ahead. Described by Ronald Bryden in the Observer in 1971 as 'a real discovery... the missing link between Chekhov and the Russian revolution', Enemies has a dramatic breadth, humour and ambition unique to Gorky.

Maxim Gorky's Enemies is adapted by David Hare and premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in May 2006.

Picture of Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky was born in 1868, suffered a deprived childhood and spent his early youth as a vagrant, but by the 1890s he was ranked with Tolstoy and Chekhov among Russia's leading writers. For long he was best known in the West as a novelist, notably for The Mother (1907) and for the three volumes of his Autobiography, with only The Lower Depths (1902) established on the stage; but in the last third of the twentieth century his other plays began also to be recognised for their portrayals of the painful pre-revolutionary decades. Besides Philistines (1901), these included Summerfolk (1904), Children of the Sun (1905), Enemies (1906) and Vassa Shelesnova (1910). After some equivocation and years in exile, he finally embraced the Revolution, and died in 1936.