Monday, October 22, 2007

Ivan Bunin: A New Statue in Moscow

A new statue of poet and prose writer Ivan Bunin was installed in Moscow today, opposite the house where Bunin lived before emigrating.

I suspect that Bunin is probably the least-read Russian Nobel Prize winner (1933) among American readers: Boris Pasternak (1958), Mikhail Sholokhov (1965), Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1970), and Joseph Brodsky (1987) all have greater name recognition, for quite varied reasons.

The speech presenting Bunin with his Nobel award recognized his following 19th century classical literary traditions. Bunin’s "Тёмные аллеи" ("Dark Alleys") cycle of short stories is among his best-known work, and his “Sunstroke” is considered an erotic classic. Themes from "Dark Alleys" were adapted for film in 1991, but the movie seems largely forgotten, perhaps because costume dramas based on literature were a bit atypical for the perestroika era.

I’ve always felt guilty for knowing so little about Bunin – particularly because I’ve enjoyed what I read – so maybe this is a sign to take him off the shelf!

Graham Hettlinger’s translations of Bunin have won positive reviews:

Collected Stories of Ivan Bunin The Elagin Affair: And Other Stories Sunstroke: Selected Stories


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