Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin
He was born on his parents' estate near Voronezh in Oryol province in central Russia. He came from a long line of landed gentry and serf owners, but his grandfather and father had squandered nearly all of the estate.
He was sent to the public school in Yelets in 1881, but had to return home after five years. His brother, who was university-educated, encouraged him to read the Russian classics and to write.
In 1889, he followed his brother to Kharkov, where he became a government clerk, assistant editor of a local paper, librarian, and court statistician. He also began a correspondence with Anton Chekhov, with whom he became close friends. He also had a more distant relationship with Maxim Gorky and Leo Tolstoy.
In 1891, he published his first short story, "Country Sketch" in a literary journal, and he became known primarily for his short stories, including "On the Farm," "The News From Home," "To the Edge of the World," "Antonov Apples," and "The Gentleman from San Francisco."
Bunin was also a well-known translator. The most famous of his translations is Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha" for which Bunin was awarded the Pushkin Prize in 1903. He also did translations of Byron, Tennyson, and Musset.
He published his first full-length work, The Village, when he was 40. It was a realist portrayal of village life, with its stupidity, brutality, and violence. It was criticized for its "characters sunk so far below the average of intelligence as to be scarcely human." Two years later, he published Dry Valley, which was a veiled portrayal of his family.
He left Moscow after the revolution in 1917, moving to Odessa. He left Odessa on the last French ship in 1919 and settled in Grasse, France. There, he published his diary, which contained strong criticism of the Bolshevik regime.
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1933. On the journey through Germany to accept the prize in Stockholm, he was detained, ostensibly for jewel smuggling, and forced to drink a bottle of castor oil. He was a strong opponent of the Nazis and reportedly sheltered a Jew in his house in Grasse throughout the occupation.
He published two parts of a projected trilogy: The Life of Arsenyev and Lika, which were "neither a short novel, nor a novel, nor a long short story, but . . . of a genre yet unknown."
Bunin died of a heart attack in a Paris attic flat.
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