Leonid Andreyev became one of the most popular writers of the first decade of the twentieth century because of his ability to combine modernist and realist techniques and his willingness to break taboos of theme. His subjects included topics, such as venereal disease, and various abnormalities. His works caused a scandal but won their author a wide following. In the aftermath of 1905, Andreyev dealt with the defeated revolutionaries' moral and psychological dilemmas and with the intelligentsia as a whole, while in The Tale of the Seven Who Were Hanged (1909), he produced a stunning condemnation of the death penalty. Andreyev had a talent for depicting the dark, irrational forces in life within existential dilemmas. However, his pessimism and mysticism are sometimes undercut by a blatant tugging on the heartstrings and a lack of personal engagement and authenticity. Andreyev died in 1919.