Ivan Bunin and Eastern Mysticism





I. Bunin, Saadi, east, Quran, evidence of Islam, eastern mysticism


The influence of ideas of Eastern mysticism is manifested in Ivan Bunin’s understanding of the artistic path as spiritual ascent. This article analyses Bunin’s short stories The Death of the Prophet and The Stone based on the combination of times and spaces. The artistic specificity of these stories is determined by the presence of Biblical and Quranic motifs, as well as Saadi’s philosophical and parable texts. The article contains surahs of the Quran and fragments of Saadi’s poems, which make it possible to clarify the figurative genesis of Bunin’s stories characterised by a high artistic simplicity, brevity, and philosophical depth. The eastern imagery of the stories receives lyrical development in the poems Abraham, Law, Muhammad and Safiya, and others. It is noted that in The Death of the Prophet, the writer creates a typical image of a sage following the mystical path of spiritual improvement. Qur’anic influence is confirmed by the use of Bismillah in The Death of the Prophet and in the poem Law, i. e. the testimony that reveals 113 surahs of the Quran: In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. The authors pay special attention to the presence in The Death of the Prophet of Shahadatain, the formula of conversion to Islam containing the confession of the testimonies of Islam. Depicting the “other” eastern world, Bunin focuses on cultural, moral, and historical issues. In the work of the writer, emphasis is placed on the unity of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Bunin’s orientalism, the distant world is portrayed as spiritualised and light. It is concluded that for the writer, the main thing is to “survey the Beauty of the World”, to see the “combination of the beautiful and the eternal”, to know what the “truth” is, and, finally, to complete the mystical path.

Author Biographies

Marzieh Yahyapour

PhD (Philology), Professor, University of Tehran.

16th Azar Str., Enghelab Sq., 1417466191, Tehran, Iran.

ORCID 0000-0001-8195-6909


Janolah Karimi-Motahhar

PhD (Philology), Professor, University of Tehran.

16th Azar Str., Enghelab Sq., 1417466191, Tehran, Iran.

ORCID 0000-0002-6072-5797



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How to Cite

Yahyapour, M., & Karimi-Motahhar, J. (2021). Ivan Bunin and Eastern Mysticism. Quaestio Rossica, 9(2), 533–546. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2021.2.594



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