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Ivan Bunin (1870-1953)



Ivan Bunin (1870-1953) - born October 10 (Oct. 22, New Style), 1870
Russian poet, short story writer, novelist who wrote of the decay of the Russian nobility and of peasant life. Bunin was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1933. He is considered one of the most important figures in Russian literature before the Revolution of 1917. Bunin gained fame chiefly for his prose works, although he wrote poetry throughout his creative life. His calm 'classical' style had a closer kinship with the prose of the 19th-century - Turgenev, Tolstoy, Garsin, Chekhov - than with the modernist experiments of his own time.
"I have a genuinely savage hatred and genuinely savage contempt for revolutions."
Ivan Bunin was born on his parents' estate near the village of Voronezh, central Russia. His father came from a long line of landed gentry - serf owners until emancipation. Bunin's grandfather was a prosperous landowner, who started to spent his property after the death of his young wife. What little was left, Bunin's father drank and played at card tables. By the turn of the century the family's fortune was nearly exhausted. In early childhood Bunin witnessed the increasing impoverishment of his family, who were ultimately completely ruined financially. Much of his childhood Bunin spent in the family estate in Oryol province, and became familiar with the life of the peasanrs. In 1881 he entered the public school in Yelets, but after five years he was forced to return home. His elder brother, who had studied at an university and had also sat in prison for political reasons, encouraged him to write and read Russian classics, Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, and others.
At the age of seventeen Bunin made his debut as a poet, when his poem appeared in a magazine in St. Petersburg. He continued to write poems and published in 1891 his first story, 'Derevenskiy eskiz' (Country Sketch) in N.K. Mikhaylovsky's journal Russkoye bogatstvo. In 1889 he followed his brother to Kharkov, where he became a local government clerk. Bunin then took a job as an assistant editor of the newspaper Orlovskiy Vestnik, and worked as a librarian, and district-court statistician at Poltava. Bunin wrote short stories for various newspapers, and started a correspondence with Anton Chechov, becoming a close friend with him. Bunin was also loosely connected with Gorky's Znahie group. In 1894 Bunin had met Leo Tolstoy, whose works he admired, but he found impossible to follow the author's moral and sociopolitical ideas. In 1899 Bunin met Maxim Gorky, and dedicated his collection of poetry, LISTOPAD (1901), for him.
"Like all wealthy Americans he was very liberal when traveling, and believed in the complete sincerity and good-will of those who so painstakingly fed him, served him day and night, anticipating his slightest desire, protected him from dirt and disturbance, hauled things for him, hailed carriers, and delivered his luggage to hotels; So it was everywhere, and it had to be so at Naples."
(from 'The Gentleman from San Francisco', 1915)
From 1895 Bunin divided his time between St. Petersburg and Moscow. He traveled much, married in 1898 the daughter of an Greek revolutionary. By the turn of the century, Bunin had published over 100 poems. He gained fame with such stories as 'On the Farm,' 'The News From Home,' 'To the Edge of The World,' 'Antonov Apples', and 'The Gentleman from San Francisco' (1915), which depicts an American millionaire who cares only about making money. He dies in a luxury Italian hotel and is shipped home in the hold of a luxury liner. Several tales focused on the life of peasants and landowners, but after the revolution of 1905 Bunin's peasant themes became darker in tone. The author, who knew village life more closely than did the urban intellectuals, considered the folk ignorant, violent, and totally unfit to take a hand in government. Later he wrote about the Bolsheviks in his notebook Cursed Days: A Diary of Revolution: "What a terrible gallery of convicts!"
As a translator Bunin was highly regarded. He published in 1898 a translation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha, for which he was awarded by the Russian Academy of Science the Pushkin Prize in 1903. Among Bunin's other translations were Lord Byron's Manfred and Cain, Tennyson's Lady Godiva, and works from Alfred de Musset, and Francois Coppee. In 1909 the Academy elected Bunin one of its twelve members.
After Bunin's first marriage ended, he married again in 1907. When he was 40, Bunin published his first full-length work, DEREVNIA (1910, The Village), which was composed of brief episodes in the Russian provinces at the time of the Revolution of 1905. The story, set in the author's birthplace, was about two peasant brothers - one a cruel drunk, the other a gentler, more sympathetic character. The Village made his famous in Russia. Bunin's realistic portrayal of village life destroyed the idealized picture of unspoiled peasants, and arose much controversy with its "characters sunk so far below the average of intelligence as to be scarcely human." Two years later appeared SUKHODOL (Dry Valley), a lament for the passing of gentry life and a veiled biography of Bunin's family.
"These «ruthless» works caused passionate discussions among our Russian critics and intellectuals who, owing to numerous circumstances peculiar to Russian society and - in these latter days - to sheer ignorance or political advantage, have constantly idealized the people. In short, these works made me notorious; this success has been confirmed by more recent works." (from 'Autobiography')
Before World War I Bunin traveled in Ceylon, Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, and other countries - these journeys also left marks on his poems and prose works. Between 1912 and 1914 Bunin spent three winters with Gorky on Capri. After revolution in October 1917, he left Moscow and moved to Odessa for two years, eventually leaving Russia on the last French ship to sail from Odessa. He emigrated to France, where he settled in Grasse. In the 1920 Bunin published his diary OKAYANNYE DNI, where he bitterly attacked the Bolshevik regime. Other later works include the autobiographical novel ZHIZN ARSEN'EVA: U ISTOKA DNEJ (1933, The Life of Arsenyev), novella MITINA LUBOV (1925, Mitya's Love), TYOMNUYYE ALLEI (1946, Shadowed Paths), written during the Nazi occupation, and VOSPOMINANIYA (1950, Memories and Portraits).
In exile Bunin wrote only of Russia. Bunin's name had been mentioned several times in Nobel Prize speculations and the whole process had became a burden for the author. According to a story, Bunin was stopped in Berlin on his way to Stockholm to receive the award. Nobel winner or not, he was arrested by the Gestapo, interrogated - the excuse was jewel smuggling - and he had to drink a dose of castor oil. During World War II Bunin, who was a strong opponent of Nazism, remained in France and it is said he sheltered a Jew in his house at Grasse throughout the Occupation. Bunin died of a heart attack in a Paris attic flat on November 8, 1953. His projected trilogy, which began with ZHIZN ARSEN'EVA (1927-33, The Life of Arsenyev) was characterized by the Russian writer Konstantin Paustovski "neither a short novel, nor a novel, nor a long short story, but is of a genre yet unknown." The second part, LIKA, was published in 1939. Bunin modified his views of the Soviet Union after World War II, and a five-volume selection of his work appeared in his native country.
For further reading: If You See Buddha: Studies in the Fiction of Ivan Bunin by Thomas Gaiton Marullo (1998); The Narratology of the Autobiography by Alexander R. Zweers (1997); Ivan Bunin: From the Other Shore, 1920-1933, ed. by Thomas Gaiton Marullo (1995); Ivan Bunin: Russian Requiem, 1885-1920, ed. by Thomas Gaiton Marullo (1993); Bunin by J.W. Connolly (1982); Ivan Bunin by J. Woodward (1980); The Works of Ivan Bunin by S. Kryzytski (1971); Proza Ivana Bunina by A. Volkov (1969); Die Lebensanschauung I.A.B.s nach seinem Prosawerk by B. Kirchner (1968); I.A. Bunin, ocherk tvorchestva by V. Afanasyev (1966) - Suomeksi Buninilta on ilmestynyt myos Valitut kertomukset (1970) - Film on Bunin's later years: Dvevnik ego zheny, dir. by Aleksei Uchitel, starring Andrei Smirnov, Galina Tjunina, Jevgeni Mironov, Jelena Morozova (2000)

Selected works:
STIHOTVORENIYA, 1891
POD OTKRYTYM NEBOM, 1898
NA KRAI SVETA, 1898 - Maailman aariin
ANTONOVSKIYE JABLOKI, 1900 - Antonovka-omenat
LISTOPAD, 1901
DEREVNIA, 1910 - The Village
SUKHODOL, 1912 - Dry Valley
BRATJA, 1914
TSHALA ZHIZHI, 1914 - Elaman malja
POLNOE SOBRANIE SOCHINENY, 1915
GOZPODIN IZ SAN-FRANCISCO, 1922 - The Gentleman from San Francisco - Herra San Franciscosta
Fifteen Tales, 1923
The Dreams of Chang, 1923
ROZA IERIXONA, 1924 - Jericho Rose
MITINA LUBOV, 1925 - Mitya's Love - Mitjan rakkaus
OKAYANNYE DNI, 1925-26 - The Accursed Day
SOLNECHNY UDAR, 1927 - A Sunstroke - Auringonpistos
LIKA, 1929
ZHIZN ARSEN'EVA: U ISTOKA DNEJ, 1933 - The Life of Arsenyev - Arsenjevin elama
Grammar of Love, 1934
The Elaghin Affair, 1935
SOBRANIE SPCHINENY, 1934-36 (11 vols.)
OSVOBOZHDENIYE TOLSTOGO, 1937
TYOMNUYYE ALLEI, 1946 - Shadowed Paths - Puiston pimeat kaytavat
Dark Avenues and Other Stories, 1949
VOSPOMINANIYA, 1950 - Memories and Portraits
O CHEKHOVE, 1955
Shadowed Paths (n.d., 195?)
The Gentleman from San Francisco and Other Stories, 1964
SOBRANIE SOCHINENY, 1965-67 (9 vols.)
Modern Russian Poetry, 1966 (eds. and trs. V. Markov and M. Sparks)
VELGA, 1970
IZBRANNOE, 1970
STIKHOTVORENIA, RAZZKAZY, POVESTI, 1973
POD SERPOM I MOLOTOM, 1977
POSLEDNEE SVIDANIE, 1978
In a Far Distant Land, 1982
Long Ago: Fourteen Stories, 1984
Light Breathing and Other Stories, 1989
Cursed Days: A Diary of Revolution, 1998


Источник: Pegasos


Тем временем:

...
Ну-с, так вот, жил, стало-быть, на свете мальчик. Да-с. Маленький, лет так
приблизительно четырех. В Москве. С мамой. И звали этого мальчика Славка.
- Угу... Как меня?
- Довольно красивый, но был он, к величайшему сожалению, - драчун. И
дрался он чем ни попало - кулаками, и ногами, и даже калошами. А однажды на
лестнице девочку из 8-го номера, славная такая девочка, тихая, красавица, а
он ее по морде книжкой ударил.
- Она сама дерется...
- Погоди. Это не о тебе речь идет.
- Другой Славка?
- Совершенно другой. На чем, бишь, я остановился? Да... Ну, натурально,
пороли этого Славку каждый день, потому что нельзя же, в самом деле, драки
позволять. А Славка все-таки не унимался. И дошло дело до того, что в один
прекрасный день Славка поссорился с Шуркой, тоже мальчик такой был, и,
недолго думая, хвать его зубами за ухо, и пол-уха - как не бывало. Гвалт тут
поднялся, Шурка орет, Славку порют, он тоже орет... Кой-как приклеили
Шуркино ухо синдетиконом, Славку, конечно, в угол поставили... И вдруг -
звонок... И является совершенно неизвестный господин с огромной рыжей
бородой и в синих очках и спрашивает басом: "А позвольте узнать, кто здесь
будет Славка?" Славка отвечает: "Это я Славка". - "Ну, вот что, - говорит,
- Славка, я - надзиратель над всеми драчунами, и придется мне тебя,
уважаемый Славка, удалить из Москвы. В Туркестан". Видит Славка, дело плохо,
и чистосердечно раскаялся. "Признаюсь, - говорит, - что дрался, я и на
лестнице играл в копейки, и маме бессовестно наврал - сказал, что не
играл... Но больше этого не будет, потому что я начинаю новую жизнь". - "Ну,
- говорит надзиратель, - это другое дело. Тогда тебе следует награда за
чистосердечное твое раскаяние". И немедленно повел Славку в наградной
раздаточный склад. И видит Славка, что там видимо-невидимо разных вещей. Тут
и воздушные шары, и автомобили, и аэропланы, и полосатые мячики, и
велосипеды, и барабаны. И говорит надзиратель: "Выбирай, что твоя душа
хочет". А вот что Славка выбрал, я и забыл...

Булгаков Михаил Афанасьевич   
«Псалом»