When Gorky heard that Chaliapin was planning to dictate his autobiography to some second stringer, he wrote offering his own services: ""Your life is symbolic in a sense, for it must bear witness to the might and power of our country."" The two friends settled to work in Capri (Gorky was in exile); the result appeared in Letopis in 1917. It has not been published previously in English. The collaboration was successful; Challapin, with a bold signature, tells a stunning story. He was born to a poor-to-destitute family in Kazan; his father was a now-and-then worker and drunkard; his mother ultimately resorted to begging. When Chaliapin, already embarked on his singing career, asked for money to return home at her death, he was given two roubles. To Chaliapin, singing was a way out of misery so deep that once he entered a gun shop with the intention of shooting himself. It became the ""sacred duty"" of his life as he won acclaim on the Continent, in America (which he disliked), in England, at home. He sang for Lenin and the workers, always considered himself a man of the people. The two-hundred page biography leaves him in midstream, an established artist with an equally established reputation for mischief: there is a streak of self-Justification here. Letters to his daughter Irina, to others (Stanislavsky, Chekhov, etc.); the Gorky correspondence append. A unique book.