Anathema is Andreyev's most successful excursion into an allegorical drama of existence (with certain echoes of Faust), and was one of his principal efforts in Symbolism. Between the two Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 Leonid Andreyev was without a doubt the foremost writer in Russia. His name was always spoken with veneration, in mysterious whispers, as a grim portentous magician who descended into the ultimate depths of the nether side of life and fathomed the beauty and tragedy of the struggle. Leonid Nickolayevitch was born in the province of Oryol, in 1871, and studied law at the University of Moscow. Those were days of suffering and starvation; he gazed into the abyss of sorrow and despair. In January 1894 he made an unsuccessful attempt to kill himself by shooting, and then was forced by the authorities to severe penitence, which augmented the natural morbidness of his temperament. As a lawyer his career was short-lived, and he soon abandoned it for literature, beginning as a police-court reporter on the Moscow Courier. In 1902 he published the short story In the Fog, which for the first time brought him universal recognition. He was imprisoned during the revolution of 1905, together with Maxim Gorky, on political charges. Such are the few significant details of his personal life, for the true Andreyev is entirely in his stories and plays.