About the book (from Lapham’s Quarterly):
One stormy night during Gorky’s time in Arzamas, he received an unexpected visit from a dusty, gray-bearded heretical priest called Father Fyodor Vladimirsky, who had been so keen to meet Gorky that he violated the authorities’ prohibition on visitors. Gorky found him to be “a remarkable man whose life I will try to write someday,” and the outlines of this Joe Gould–like figure reappear over and over in many of his future writings.
The specter of the radical priest was central to his hallucinogenic 1908 first-person novel, The Confession—the second book title he had appropriated from Tolstoy, the first being My Childhood. The Confession reads like a blend of Huck Finn and the mystic George Gurdjieff. The book follows an orphan named Matvei on his tramping voyage of spiritual discovery across the steppe, where he flees from evil monks running corrupt monasteries and spends three days on the frontier talking about God and the nature of history with an itinerant priest. The priest then sends him to a nearby village where a mysterious cell of radicals are organizing the workers.
About the author (from Wikipedia):
Maxim Gorky was a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method and a political activist. He was also a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Around fifteen years before success as a writer, he frequently changed jobs and roamed across the Russian Empire; these experiences would later influence his writing. Gorky’s most famous works were The Lower Depths (1902), Twenty-six Men and a Girl, The Song of the Stormy Petrel, My Childhood, Mother, Summerfolk and Children of the Sun. He had an association with fellow Russian writers Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov; Gorky would later mention them in his memoirs.
Gorky was active with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement. He publicly opposed the Tsarist regime, and for a time closely associated himself with Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov’s Bolshevik wing of the party, but later became a bitter critic of Lenin as an overly ambitious, cruel and power-hungry potentate who brooked no challenge to his authority. For a significant part of his life, he was exiled from Russia and later the Soviet Union. In 1932, he returned to USSR on Joseph Stalin’s personal invitation and died there in June 1936.