Open Letter to Messieurs J. Richard, Jules Claretie, Rene Viviani, and other French Journalists
by Maxim Gorky
I have acquainted myself with the Fountains of eloquence that gushed from your inkwells, prompted by my article on the loan granted by the government and financiers of France to Nicholas Romanov for the institution in Russia of bloody reprisals, courts-martial and every imaginable atrocity. I have acquainted myself with the objections you level at me and—I don’t congratulate you!
Alliance with the so-called Russian government is doing you good: you have begun to treat logic, the truth and the noble French language in exactly the way Cossacks treat women. One reason, you see, why tyranny is so atrocious is that it perverts even the unconcerned and indifferent onlooker, which is what has happened to you.
I never reply to personal attacks, and the ruder they are, the sooner they are forgotten. But, sirs, you accuse me of ingratitude—and that I cannot let pass.
You say: "we came out in Gorky’s defence when he was in prison, yet he . . . ."
I take the liberty of giving you a piece of good advice: if, whether from inadvertence or for some other reason, you once allowed free play to your humane sentiments, don't brag about it! It isn‘t nice . . . .
"I was good to you, you should repay me with gratitude"—that is what is to be gathered from your words. But I don't feel grateful, and I consider your kindness a misunderstanding.
I am not the martyr or sufferer you would so zealously make me out to be. I am just a man who confidently does his small job and finds complete satisfaction in his work, and if for this I have sometimes been put in jail for brief periods—well, I just rested there from natural fatigue, without experiencing any particular discomfort, let alone suffering.
From the standpoint of common sense, you, sirs, ought to wish that I be put in prison more often and for longer periods, and when you protest against it, I find your conduct—forgive me!—just funny.
For we are enemies, and implacable enemies, I am certain. An honest writer is always an enemy of society, and even more an enemy of those who defend and justify greed and envy, those basic pillars of the modern social organization.
You also say: "We love Gorky, yet he . . . ."
Sirs, let me tell you quite sincerely: to me, a Socialist, the love of a bourgeois is profoundly offensive!
I trust that these lines will define our mutual relations accurately and for all time.