80 years ago Ivan Bunin received The Nobel Prize in Literature
November 21, 2013Ivan Bunin made history as the first Russian writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing". The immediate basis for the award was the autobiographical novel The Life of Arseniev, which he wrote in 1933 in emigration.
Critics called The Life of Arseniev “a requiem for the Russian that gone” and found deep philosophical motives in a novel, in which "Bunin came closest to a deep metaphysical understanding of the human being's tragic essence". Konstantin Paustovsky called The Life of Arseniev "one of the most outstanding phenomena of world literature".
But Bunin's legacy is much wider in scope. He is regarded as a master of the short story, described by scholar Oleg Mikhaylov as an "archaist innovator" who, while remaining true to the literary tradition of the 19th century, made huge leaps in terms of artistic expression and purity of style.
Among his other novels the best known are The Village (1910), Dry Valley (1912), the book of short stories Dark Avenues (1946) and his 1917–1918 diary (Cursed Days, 1926).
Ivan Bunin's books have been translated into many languages, and the world's leading writers praised his gift. Romain Rolland called Bunin a "artistic genius"; he was spoken and written of in much the same vein by writers like Henri de Régnier, Thomas Mann,Rainer Maria Rilke, Jerome K. Jerome, and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz.
European critics and many of his fellow writers viewed him as a true heir to the tradition of realism in Russian literature established by Tolstoy and Chekhov.