Maxim Gorky was one of the greatest Russian literary figures of the 20th century, and is known for his socialist realism. “The Man Who Was Afraid”, which appeared in 1899, established Gorky as a major novelist. The action takes place in a town on the river Volga in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. This is the story of a well-meaning but weak man who feels disgust, boredom, and guilt as the inheritor of a profitable family business. He runs counter to his family and his class, but he is lacking in moral fiber, and in the end the forces of tradition defeat and destroy him. In this novel and all his later works, Gorky identified himself as being a bitter enemy of capitalism and depicted the society of prerevolutionary Russia as drab and dreary.