Bunin, Ivan Alekseyevich

Bunin, Ivan Alekseyevich bo͞oˈnĭn, Rus. ēvänˈ əlyĭksyāˈyəvĭch bo͞oˈnyĭn [key], 1870–1953, Russian writer. Born of a poor aristocratic family, he was encouraged in his literary precocity. His first volume of verse was published in 1891. He traveled extensively, writing while working as a librarian and statistician. Bunin won the Pushkin Prize in 1903 for his own verse and for his translations of works by Byron and Longfellow. The Village (1910, tr. 1923), a novel in the Turgenev tradition, won him international fame. It depicts the ugliness of peasant life before the Revolution of 1905. The novella “Dry Valley” (1911) describes the decline of the country gentry. Bunin is best known for his short stories, particularly for the title story of the collection The Gentleman from San Francisco (1915, tr. 1923), which treats powerfully the themes of vanity and death. His autobiographical novel The Well of Days (1930, tr. 1933) is equally celebrated. Bunin's Memories and Portraits (1950, tr. 1951) contains reminiscences of famous contemporaries. His elegant style, descriptive genius, and choice of themes place Bunin among the classic Russian authors. A nostalgia for the aristocracy contributed to his reactionary political stance, which compelled him to leave Russia in 1919. His last years were spent in France. Bunin was awarded the 1933 Nobel Prize in Literature.

See study by S. Kryzytski (1971).

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