The Spiritual Transformation of the Modernist Era in Bunin’s Prose between the 1910s and 1940s: Signs of a Disaster and Ways of Overcoming It




Ivan Bunin; spiritual issues; modernism; miniature; story; novel; contrast


This article examines the way Bunin creates a voluminous picture of the spiritual condition of Russian man and Russian life on the eve of the Revolution of 1917. Referring to four pieces of literature written from 1916 to 1944, the author demonstrates that while thinking of reasons for the national disaster, the writer gradually and from many perspectives unveils the peculiarities of the modernist era and its main value crisis, which was connected with the lack of faith and apostasy. The Old Woman contains a visual image of the “overflowing sea of mirth” contrasting with the ordeals suffered during World War I. In Mad Artist, Bunin shows a character not only alienated from the traditional Orthodox life but also doing evil. Cornet Yelagin’s Case focuses on the aestheticisation of death typical of modernism. In Pure Monday, closing the cycle, the heroine’s choice is interpreted as the possibility of overcoming spiritual disaster in the context of national destiny.

Author Biography

Natalia Prashcheruk

Dr. Hab. (Philology), Professor, Ural Federal University.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0003-4407-5293


Babintsev, V., Bugrov, K. (2014). “Russkii dnevnik” P. Paskalya: voina i revolyutsiya v Rossii glazami frantsuzskogo voennogo spetsialista [P. Pascal’s Russian Diary: War and Revolution in Russia through the Eyes of a French Military Expert]. In Quaestio Rossica. No. 1, pp. 263–276. DOI 10.15826/qr.2014.1.036.

Bunin, I. A. (1966–1967). Sobranie sochinenii v 9 t. [Collected Works. 9 Vols.]. Moscow, Khudozhestvennaya literatura.

Bunin, I. A. (1973). Rech’ na yubilee “Russkikh vedomostei” [Speech on the Anniversary of Russkiye vedomosti]. In Literaturnoe nasledstvo. Vol. 84. Ivan Bunin (2 Books). Book 1. Moscow, Nauka, pp. 314–324.

Bunin, I. A. (1987–1988). Sobranie sochinenii v 6 t. [Collected Works. 6 Vols.]. Moscow, Khudozhestvennaya literatura.

Bunin, I. A. (1991). Okayannye dni [Cursed Days]. Moscow, Sovetskii pisatel’. 175 p.

Gracheva, A. M. Retseptsiya simvolizma v emigrantskom tvorchestve I. A. Bunina (“Delo korneta Elagina”) [The Reception of Symbolism in I. A. Bunin’s Émigré Works (Cornet Yelagin’s Case)]. In Postsimvolizm [internet-portal]. URL: (mode of access: 10.11.2017).

Grin, M. (Ed.). (1972–1982). Ustami Buninykh. Dnevniki Ivana Alekseevicha i Very Nikolaevny i drugie arkhivnye materialy v 3 t. [From the Mouth of the Bunins. Ivan Alekseevich’s and Vera Nikolaevna’s Diaries and Other Archival Materials. 3 Vols.]. Frankfurt a/M, Posev.

Hierotheos (Vlachos), metr. (2009). Pravoslavnaya dukhovnost’ [Orthodox Spirituality]. Moscow, Svyato-Troitskaya Lavra. 135 p.

Prashcheruk, N. V. (2015). Blagaya vest’ ili d’yavol’skoe navazhdenie: rasskaz I. A. Bunina “Bezumnyi khudozhnik” v kontekste gogolevskogo “Portreta” [Good News or Instigation of the Devil: The Mad Artist by I. A. Bunin in the Context of Gogol’s The Portrait]. In Vestnik Novgorodskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya: Gumanitarnye nauki. No. 84, pp. 118–121.

Prashcheruk, N. V. (2016). Proza I. A. Bunina v dialogakh s russkoi klassikoi [I. A. Bunin’s Prose in Dialogues with the Russian Classics]. 2 Ed., Add. Yekaterinburg, Izdatel’stvo Ural’skogo universiteta. 206 p.

Pravoslavnyi tserkovnyi kalendar’ [Orthodox Church Calendar]. (1994). Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Moskovskogo Patriarkhata. 107 p.

Schmemann, A. (1994). Dukhovnye sud’by Rossii [Spiritual Fates of Russia]. In Novyi mir. No. 3, pp 182–190.



How to Cite

Prashcheruk, N. (2019). The Spiritual Transformation of the Modernist Era in Bunin’s Prose between the 1910s and 1940s: Signs of a Disaster and Ways of Overcoming It. Quaestio Rossica, 7(2), 413–424.



Problema voluminis