Ivan Bunin Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

In addition to more than one hundred short stories, Ivan Bunin published in his sixty-six-year writing career several books of poetry, novels, memoirs, essays, travelogues, and translations. His collected and selected works have been published several times.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Ivan Bunin came on the literary scene in the 1890’s, after the so-called Golden Age of Russian literature, dominated by the straightforward, realistic approach. Along with Maxim Gorky, Leonid Andreyev, and others, he wrote in the neorealistic vein, for which his poetically tinged prose was well suited. With his short stories, novels, and, to a lesser degree, poetry, he upheld the high standards of Russian literature as the world came to know it. It was therefore fitting that he would be the first Russian writer to receive the Nobel Prize, as “the incomparable painter of the vast and rich beauty of the Russian land.” Despite his enmity toward the regime in the Soviet Union, his collected works have been published there twice posthumously (1956 and 1965-1967), and in 1973 two volumes of Literaturnoe nasledstvo (literary inheritance) were devoted to him.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bayley, John. “The Backward Look.” The New York Review of Books 42 (August 10, 1995): 31-33. Notes that Bunin expressed a genuine Russian sympathy and versatility in his writing; calls him a master of a detailed and pitiless realism, which he applied to the backwardness and barbarity of provincial Russia; provides a biographical background to Bunin’s writing.

Connolly, Julian W. Ivan Bunin. Boston: Twayne, 1982. An introduction to Bunin’s art for the general reader, focusing on his primary ideological positions and charting his evolution as an artist. The study includes a brief biographical sketch but is primarily organized around thematic discussions of Bunin’s major prose works in chronological order.

Cravens, Gwyneth. “Past Present.” The Nation 256 (February 8, 1993): 173-174. Claims Bunin’s short stories are marked by acute and objective observations, surprising details caught by his artist’s eye, and a crystalline style; notes that Bunin focused on the enigmas of nature, love, death, and the soul with a passion that would be unique among today’s authors; discusses several of his works.

Gross, S. L. “Nature, Man, and God in Bunin’s ‘The Gentleman from San Francisco.’” Modern Fiction Studies 6, no. 2 (1960): 153-163. A perceptive analysis of “The Gentleman from San Francisco,” focusing on its alleged pessimistic outlook. Gross takes exception to those critics who see it as a prevalently pessimistic story and counters with the image of two pipers from Abruzzi offering the...

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