Maxim Gorky Literature Institute

Maxim Gorky

This is an image of the Russian author and political activist Maxim Gorky.

Maxim Gorky Literature Institute

This is a photograph of the main building of this institute, a building that has been the gathering place of many writers prior to the founding of this institute. 

While the other universities on this tour generally have grand ambitions and an enormous scope of education, the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute is quite different; it is an idiosyncratic institution of higher education in Moscow that was founded in 1933 on the initiative of Maxim Gorky, a Russian writer and political activist who was canonized as the patron saint of Soviet letters (1,2). It was initially founded as Evening University for Workers but is now a state higher educational institution, esteemed particularly on the field of literature in Russia, with its curriculum encompassing seminars on different genres of fiction such as prose and drama. Maxim Gorky, due to his impoverished childhood, is "often considered the greatest 'proletarian' in Russian literature," a reputation that can be interpreted as quite significant during the founding of the institution during the Soviet era (2). Similar to other institutions of higher learning in Moscow, this institute, although founded on the initiative of Gorky, who is not a politican, is not divorced from the state because throughout its history it has been controlled by various government ministries, from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Culture (3). 

Furthermore, due to its relatively short history, it has remained at the same location near Pushkin Square since its founding, located in a complex of historical buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. What is striking about the architecture is that the main building of this institution was the birthplace of Alexander Herzen and was a gathering place for many prominent writers of the 19th century, including literary luminaries such as Nikolai Gogol, Aleksey Khomyakov, and Yevgeny Baratynsky (3). Moreover, in the 1920s, this building continued serving the literary community, acting as the home of several writers' organizations and even a literary museum (3). More interestingly, this building also has also directly influenced literature because it was featured in the novel The Master and the Margarita as the "house of Griboyedov." 

Thus, whereas for many universities the academic buildings were constructed to suit the needs of the students, the main building for the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute was reappropriated for academic use after its establishment, and its literary history complements its academic goals and orientation as an institution dedicated to the instruction of literature. Moreover, this nature of this institution is highly dynamic as it continues to evolve in the present-day, as it shifts from a purely academic institution into an institute of Russian culture, as a repository of important Russian literary documents and memories and a "living memorial" of the rich Russian literary history (3). 

(1) "Maxim Gorky Literary Institute." UNESCO. N.p., n.d. Web.

(2) "Maksim Gorky | Russian Writer |" N.p., n.d. Web. 

(3) "History of Maxim Gorky Literature Institute." N.p., n.d. Web.