Of all Gorky's novels, The Artomonovs is the most impressive and dramatic. In this book Gorky displays at their best the power of creating character and the gift for managing scenes of energetic action which won world-wide admiration for his early stories. His distinctive blend of humor and tragedy, violence and pity, exuberance and introspection, is here put at the service of a grander and more moving theme than he had hitherto attempted, the tragic failure of Russia's middle classes in the decades before the Revolution, seen in the small-town microcosm of a family of textile manufacturers. The rise and fall of the Artomonovs is seen, across one of the Great Divides of history. The Revolution is a cataclysm in which three generations of Artomonov enterprise are inevitably swept away. Thereby the events of their lives are given a sharp edge of finality, rarely to be found in fiction.