An impressively positive assertion coming from someone who both witnessed and directly suffered from the ‘seething layer of bestial refuse’ of which humans are capable.  Gorky’s childhood memoir is a testimony to emotional and physical resilience in the face of regular doses of breath-taking cruelty.  

Life is always surprising us – not by its rich, seething layer of bestial refuse – but by the bright, healthy and creative human powers of goodness that are for ever forcing their way up through it.  It is those powers that awaken our indestructible hope that a brighter, better and more humane life will once again be reborn.  


Source: Maxim Gorky, My Childhood, trans. Ronald Wilks (Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1966), p. 217

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