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.
(The entire section is 592 words.)