Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
By Maxim Gorky
(Perhaps the most famous novel of the Russian writer, the life-story of the son of a prosperous merchant, a youth who wrecks himself in a vain search for some outlet for his energies, and at the end commits suicide)
WHERE is the merchant to spend his energy? He cannot spend much of it on the Exchange, so he squanders the excess of his muscular capital in drinking-bouts in kabaky; for he has no conception of other applications of his strength, which are more productive, more valuable to life. He is still a beast, and life has already become to him a cage, and it is too narrow for him with his splendid health and predilection for licentiousness. Hampered by culture, he at once starts to lead a dissolute life. The debauch of a merchant is always the revolt of a captive beast. Of course this is bad. But, ah! it will be worse yet, when this beast shall have gathered some sense and shall have disciplined it. Believe me, even then he will not cease to create scandals, but they will be historical events. For they will emanate from the merchants thirst for power; their aim will be the omnipotence of one class, and the merchant will not be particular about the means toward the attainment of this aim.
Where am I to make use of my strength, since there is no demand for it? I ought to fight with robbers, or turn a robber myself. In general I ought to do something big. And that would be done, not with the head, but with the arms and breast. While here we have to go to the Exchange and try to aim well to make a rouble. What do we need it for? And what is it, anyway? Has life been arranged in this form forever? What sort of life is it, if everyone finds it too narrow for him? Life ought to be according to the taste of man. If it is narrow for me, I must move it asunder that I may have more room. I must break it and reconstruct it. But how? Thats where the trouble lies! What ought to be done that life may be freer? That I dont understand, and thats all there is to it!