Maxim Gorky: Only time to train cannon fodder, not soldiers

Antiwar literary and philosophical selections

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

Maxim Gorky: Selections on war

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Maxim Gorky
From The Specter (1938)
Translated by Alexander Bakshy

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The streets and squares of the city had long since been in use for drilling soldiers, and everywhere rang the command:

“‘Tion!”

The command lingered in his memory from childhood, when, in the tranquillity of a provincial town, it had rung assured and imperious, although coming from a distance – from the field. Here in the city which commanded the forces of the enormous country, the life of a hundred and fifty million souls, this command sounded irritable, hopeless, sometime actually despondent and futile, like an appeal or a cry of despair.

Samghin, listening to the order, shook his head incredulously, and came to a stop. Before him, striding along the cobbled pavements of the street, he saw small men in…

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