Chelkash and Other Stories

Library of Alexandria
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This happened in 1892, a famine year, at a point between Sukhum and Ochemchiry, on the shore of the Kodor River, so near the sea that through the gay babble of the clear waters of the mountain stream the muffled thunder of the billows was distinctly heard.
It was an autumn day. Yellow cherry-laurel leaves were circling and glistening in the white foam of the Kodor like nimble salmon fry. I was sitting on some rocks near the bank and reflecting that the sea-gulls and cormorants, too, must be mistaking the leaves for fish, and that was why their cries were so fretful over there to the right, behind the trees where the sea was rumbling.
The chestnut trees overhead were decked out in gold; at my feet lay piles of leaves which looked like the palms of hands that had been cut off. On the opposite bank the hornbeam boughs were already bare, and hung in the air like a torn net; caught in it, as it were, a red and yellow mountain woodpecker hopped along, tapping the bark with his black beak, while adroit titmice and dove-colored nuthatchesÑvisitors from the distant northÑpecked the insects he drove out.
To the left, above the mountain peaks, hung smoky, heavy, rain-laden clouds; they cast shadows over the green slopes dotted with boxwood, ñthe dead tree.Ó Here in the hollows of old beeches and lindens is found that ñheady honey,Ó the intoxicating sweetness of which nearly caused the downfall of the soldiers of Pompey the Great long ago, having overcome a whole legion of iron Romans. The bees make it from laurel and azalea blossoms, and tramps get it out of the hollows and eat it, spreading it on what the natives called lavash, a thin flat cake made of wheat flour. That is exactly what I was doing, as I sat under the chestnut trees. Stung all over by angry bees, I was dipping pieces of bread into a kettle full of honey and eating, while I admired the lazy play of the weary autumnal sun.
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Publisher
Library of Alexandria
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Published on
Dec 31, 1915
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Pages
98
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ISBN
9781465600226
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Aleksey Peshkov overcame indigence, violence, and suicidal despair to become Maksim Gorky, one of the most widely read and influential writers of the twentieth century. Childhood, the first book in Gorky's acclaimed autobiographical trilogy, depictshis early years, when after his father's death he was taken to live in the home of his maternal grandfather, a violent and vindictive man who both provided the child with a rudimentary education and subjected him to savage beatings. With remarkable freshness and candor, Gorky immerses his reader in a young child's world, recreating in dynamic prose a boy's bewilderment at the senseless cruelty that surrounds him, his solace in the quiet beauty of the natural world, and his often funny, guileless observations of the many vivid characters who enter his early life. At the center of this story stands Gorky's grandmother, Akulina Kashirina, one of Russian literature's most remarkable heroines. Her tender love for her grandson serves as a vital antidote tothe brutality that threatens to consume him. Her buoyant faith in a merciful, loving, but limited God provides the young Gorky with a life-affirming alternative to the vengeful, omniscient deity his grandfather worships ardently. Although often unsettling in its portrayal of the poverty and ignorance that gripped nineteenth-century Russia, Childhood is ultimately a heartening account of a young boy's formative struggle to overcome the limitations of a decaying and corrupt society, and the remarkable old woman who enabled him to succeed and instilled in him an abiding, fierce compassion for Russia's destitute and defenseless. Childhood is freshly and beautifully translated by Graham Hettlinger, lauded for his translations of Ivan Bunin.
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