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(08/10/2008) Memories & Portraits by Ivan Bunin. Garden City. 1951. Doubleday. Translated from the Russian by Vera Traill & Robin Chancellor. keywords: Literature Translated Autobiography Russia. 217 pages. Jacket design by Ronald Clyne.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS is the informal memoirs of Russian literary master Ivan Bunin - winner of the Nobel Prize in 1933 - which presents many fascinating and intimate portraits of three generations of Europe's famous artistic and literary men. Here, for example, is a masterly evocation of Chekhov, a man of many moods, sometimes simple, at other times bafflingly complex. Bunin has preserved some of Chekhov's most revealing comments on writing: 'You should only sit down to write when you are cold as ice. ' 'The sea is difficult to describe. Do you know the description I read the other day in a schoolboy's exercise book? `The sea was big. ' That was all it said. I found it wonderful.' Here also are many other renowned figures brought vividly to you by the man whom Andre Gide hailed recently, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, as one of the greatest writers of his generation. There are Tolstoy telling Chekhov that he thought Shakespeare wrote badly; a joyful picture of Chaliapin, brilliant man and brilliant actor as well as great singer; and a delicately sculpted cameo of Rachmaninov. Bunin is a writer of the classical school. His prose is charged with overtones which brilliantly evoke a bygone world, peopled with irresistible characters. MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS is a delightful book which is objective yet reveals a charming and unique personality.

Ivan Bunin first came to prominence in 1908 when he was awarded the Pushkin Prize, then Russia's highest literary award, for his translations of Byron's poetic dramas and Longfellow's 'Song of Hiawatha. ' In 1910 and 1912 he published two novels, THE VILLAGE and THE ELAGHIN AFFAIR, which spread his reputation throughout Europe. Best known to Americans are his novel, THE WELL OF DAYS and the short story THE GENTLEMAN FROM SAN FRANCISCO. In 1933 Bunin was awarded the Nobel Prize. After opposing the Revolution in 1918, Bunin fled to France and has lived there since, in exile. Andre Gide wrote a tribute to him, lauding him as one of the foremost writers of the past fifty years.

 

 

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