Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin was a famous Russian poet and novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature for the first time in 1933. His prose and poetry were noted for their scrupulous adherence to classical Russian prose and poetry writing traditions. Bunin’s prose and poetry maintained historical Russian norms, and his writing style, dubbed ‘Bunin Brocade,’ displayed brilliance in language. Bunin’s classical prose style was reminiscent of the renowned Leo Tolstoy’s works, and many of his contemporaries and critics saw him as the true successor of Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy’s tradition of realism in Russian literature. Many of his books and short stories are set in Russia’s rural areas, and they criticize the divide between the educated and the less educated. ‘The Life of Arseniev,’ ‘The Village,’ ‘Mitya’s Love,’ ‘Dry Valley,’ ‘Bird’s Shadow,’ and ‘Dark Avenues’ are some of his well-known works. ‘Falling Leaves,’ his poem, displays his affiliation with the Russian Symbolist movement. Bunin was well-known for his anti-Communist sentiments. His diary, ‘Cursed Days,’ chronicles the Bolsheviks’ rise to power. One of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s many translation works from English to Russian was ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’
Childhood and Adolescence
He was born on October 22, 1870, in Voronezh, Central Russia, to Aleksey Nikolayevich Bunin and Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Bunina, as the youngest of five children. Poets like Vasily Zhukovsky and Anna Bunina were among his ancestors.
He spent his early years in Butyrky Khutor and then Ozerky, where he was surrounded by kind and clever people. His mother exposed him to the realm of Russian literature.
He was originally tutored by Romashkov, a private instructor, and then by his older brother Yuly. Yuly, a university student, instructed him in philosophy, psychology, and social science, as well as inspiring him to read Russian classics such as Tolstoy, Gogol, and Pushkin. Yuly became his friend and mentor over time, and he encouraged him to write.
By the 1870s, his family had been seriously harmed by his father’s gambling addiction, which resulted in the family estate being lost in a horrible card game.
At 1881, he enrolled in the Yelets gymnasium for secondary education, but because to financial constraints, he had to quit out after five years in March 1886.
Career of Ivan Bunin
He had amazing awareness and understanding of natural subtleties, and many of his works reflect his rural and natural life experiences. His first poem, ‘Village Paupers,’ was published in the ‘Rodina’ journal in May 1887.
His family’s poverty forced him to work in a variety of clerical and technical occupations. In 1889, he moved to Kharkov with his brother and worked as an assistant editor of a local daily, a court statistician, a government clerk, and a librarian.
He then moved to Oryol in 1889, where he worked in the editorial division of the local newspaper ‘Orlovsky Vestnik’ until mid-1892. Many of his early poetry and short stories appeared in the newspaper’s literary section.
His first short story, ‘Country sketch,’ was published in the ‘Russkoye Bogatstvo’ periodical in 1891.
He moved to Poltava in August 1892, where his brother Yuly had resided. Yuly assisted him in obtaining employment with the Zemstvo administration.
He met the great Leo Tolstoy in Moscow in January 1894 and was mesmerized by Tolstoy’s work. During the first half of the year, he traveled across Ukraine.
In 1895, he visited the Russian capital and met notable figures such as Anton Chekhov, Narodniks Nikolay Mikhaylovsky, Konstantin Balmont, and Sergey Krivenko, among others. Anton Chekhov became a close friend of his.
His first collection of short stories, ‘To the Edge of the World and Other Stories,’ was published in 1897.
In 1898, he translated Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.”
During 1899, he grew close to Maxim Gorky, and he dedicated his poetry book ‘Falling Leaves’ (1901) to him. His affinity with the Russian Symbolist movement, particularly with Symbolists like Valery Bryusov, is seen in ‘Falling Leaves.’
He won his first Pushkin Prize for ‘Falling Leaves’ and a translation of ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’
He made a notable transition from poetry to prose in the new century. ‘Antonov Apples,’ ‘On the Farm,’ and ‘The News from Home,’ to name a few of his early works, are considered masterpieces, with the former being his first.
He was also a member of Gorky’s ‘Znanie’ group. From 1902 through 1909, the ensemble published five volumes of the ‘Complete Bunin’ series. ‘Petropolis’ later released the series in 11 volumes between 1934 and 1936. His relationship with Gorky, on the other hand, was broken in April 1917, during the ‘Russian Revolution of 1917,’ and they never reunited.
In October 1909, he received the second ‘Pushkin Prize’ for his ‘Poems 1903–1906’ and translation works of Lord Byron’s ‘Cain’ and sections of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘The Golden Legend.’ In the same year, he was elected to the ‘Russian Academy.’
Around 1919, he joined the Volunteer Army and worked as the cultural department editor of the anti-Bolshevik newspaper ‘Iuzhnoe Slovo.’
‘The Village’ (1910), ‘Dry Valley’ (1912), and ‘Mitya’s Love’ are three of his outstanding short books (1924).
In the early 1900s, he published a number of short tale collections. ‘Bird’s Shadow’ (1907 to 1911), ‘The Gentleman from San Francisco’ (1916), ‘Temple of the Sun’ (1917), and ‘Dark Avenues’ are only a few of the notable ones (New York, 1943; Paris, 1946).
In the year 1920, he moved to France.
Around 1925-26, the Paris-based tabloid ‘Vozrozhdenye’ began publishing ‘Cursed Days,’ his anti-Bolshevik diaries (from 1918 to 1920). He was regarded as one of the foremost anti-Bolshevist campaigners and spokespersons.
‘The Life of Arseniev’ (1933, 1939), his autobiographical novel, was widely praised by critics, who saw it as having reached new heights in Russia’s literary scene.
Tolstoy scholars praised his book, ‘The Liberation of Tolstoy,’ published in 1937.
During World War II, he remained in Grasse. When the Germans conquered Vichy, Bunin, a passionate anti-Nazi, took in numerous fugitives, including Jews, despite the risk to his own life.
He moved to Paris in May 1945 and lived the remainder of his life there, with the exception of a short stays in the Juan-les-Pins health resort.
Achievements & Awards
He was the first Russian writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1933.
Personal History and Legacy
From Yelets days in 1889, he was in love with Varvara Paschenko, a classmate. In 1894, their romance came to an end.
He married Anna, the daughter of one of his associates, N. P. Tsakni, on September 23, 1898. While Anna was pregnant, they divorced in March 1900. Their son Nikolai was born on August 30, 1900, and died early on January 16, 1905.
In 1922, he married Vera Muromtseva after legally divorcing Anna.
During his final years, he battled severe pneumonia, asthma, and bronchitis. He died in Paris on November 8, 1953. Rue Daru’s Russian Church hosted the funeral service. After that, his coffin was kept in the burial vault for a while before being buried on January 30, 1954, in the ‘Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery.’
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth is $4 million of Ivan Bunin