Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Dromov (droh-MOV). Russian town in which the Artamonov family establishes its business. Located on the Oka River in central Russia, not far from Nizhny Novgorod, it is based heavily upon many of the towns Gorky himself knew in his difficult youth, when he was working various menial jobs to survive while honing his literary powers. The novel begins not long after 1862, when Czar Alexander II abolished the institution of serfdom—the time when the Artamonov patriarch Ilya brings his family to Dromov, whose name means “sleepytown” in Russian.

A large, brusque man full of raw animal energy, the elder Ilya Artamonov makes his first appearance by barging in on a church service. Not long afterward, he barges in on the mayor just as presumptuously and announces his intention to marry his eldest son to the mayor’s daughter. Artamonov’s forwardness alienates many of the established figures of the town, and he runs roughshod over their various objections to build his factory. However, he is soon removed from the action, killed in an industrial accident at his factory, and the business is taken over by his son Peter. Yet Peter lacks his father’s essential characteristics, and from that point the success of the factory wavers and declines. Several times Peter comments upon the steady coarsening of the residents of Dromov, and ponders what relationship that has to the presence of his family’s business.


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(Great Characters in Literature)

Levin, Dan. Stormy Petrel: The Life and Work of Maxim Gorky. New York: Appleton-Century, 1965. The best interpretation of Gorky’s life and literary activity. Chapter 34 gives a brief and very precise analysis of The Artamonov Business as a bitter statement about the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Ovcharenko, Alexander. Maxim Gorky and the Literary Quests of the Twentieth Century. Moscow: Raduga, 1985. Gives a detailed analysis of Gorky’s literary work. Chapter 3 gives a comprehensive analysis of The Artamonov Business, the history of its creation, the effect it had on world literature.

Scherr, Barry. Maxim Gorky. Boston: Twayne, 1988. Gives a brief biography of Maxim Gorky, literary analysis of his short stories, novels, plays, autobiographical writings, and essays on literature. Examines Gorky’s depiction of historical changes in Russia by comparing The Artamonov Business with Gorky’s last novel, The Life of Klim Samgin (1927-1936). A detailed bibliography is included.

Troyat, Henri. Gorky. Translated by Lowell Blair. New York: Crown, 1989. Gives the author’s interpretation of Gorky’s life and activity as a writer of the revolution, the founder of Socialist Realism. Brief reference to Gorky’s literary canon, including The Artamonov Business.

Weil, Irwin. Gorky: His Literary Development and Influence on Soviet Intellectual Life. New York: Random House, 1966. An appreciation and evaluation of the social context and artistic merits of Gorky’s works, including a brief and comprehensive analysis of The Artamonov Business.