Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 32.
- Review Date: 2007-06-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Russian exile Bunin (1870–1953), who won the Nobel Prize in 1933, becomes stunningly accessible in this beautiful new translation. Bunin, who fled to France in 1920, gives aching, lyrical glimpses into the vanished past of aristocratic Russia, replete with country estates, artsy Moscow life and the rapidly changing social structure that followed the serfs' emancipation in 1861. Spanning 44 years of Bunin's creative work, the stories include “The Scent of Apples,” written in 1900, wherein, who had previously written poetry, begins translating his lyrical visions into prose, as well as work from his middle years such as “Sukhodol,” written against the backdrop of WWI and the later losses suffered against the Bolsheviks by the White Army, which Bunin supported. Many of Bunin's post-1920 stories, such as “Ida,” “Sunstroke” and “The Elagin Affair,” explore the lives of Russian and European sophisticates, focusing on their love affairs and their concern with elegant and refined living. His last stories, for instance “In Paris” and “One Familiar Street,” explore the alienation of those who cannot forget the worlds they've lost. Though there are murders and love-suicides, plot is really not the focus of these stories, which are marked by an emotional intensity in remembrance that recalls Proust. (Aug.)