Sunday, 5 October 2014


Notes on Ivan Bunin:
An evening in Spring

                                                 SOME POINTS TO DISCUSS

·         The mistress of the house a moderately well-off land-owner who still lives a simple life.   She shows her authority, but does not really assert it, and when she goes out to see to the cows the relationship between the beggar and the moujik gets worse.   She always wears her gala dress.  Why?   Why is she in the story at all?

·         Is the moujik unemployed?   Why?    What is he doing at the mistresses house?  Is it just to get free booze?   Why is he allowed?

·         The beggar is God-fearing, and in his way at peace with himself and the land.   Or so it seems.   His heart is, perhaps, where his treasure is?   His proof to the moujik that he is honest is, it seems, that he has had six children and once owned a house?  Does that make sense?

·         Imagery.   Bunin often mentions the  gentle light on the landscape.  Is that his adopting the beggars viewpoint?   Why is the idea of the beauty of the light repeated?   This sense of nature’s beauty, whatever’s happening to human beings, likes Bunin to  literary realism (and his friend Chekhov). 

·         There are some implied comments about the society the story is set in?   The moujik questions ask :  ‘what can you get out of the ground, now, when it ain’t been plowed or sown?’   The beggar takes it not as a rhetorical question and very perceptively replies, “Well, now, of course. . . .  Whoever has the land, for example. . . .”.   But he is shouted down and told who is smarter and to “Answer what you’re asked”,  which he started to do.   What’s behind all this?

·         The moujik is embittered by very many things, it seems.  His sense that he isn’t really superior to the beggar at all (hence the bluster).   His lack of work?  Is it unemployment, or is it the failure of his own crops in some way?  He is not at one with the landscape, or the people around him.   He has an obsession with his (lack of) rank and authority.
·         Is there a thematic meaning in the little episode where the woman ‘threatens’ to give her child to the beggar, and the child is so used to that sort of thing that she doesn’t seem scared?

·         Dignity.  The beggar eats the cracknel the little girl has been sucking.  He is humble.  Can’t imagine the moujik doing that.   Why is the beggar given this passive acceptance of his lot?   Or is he, in fact, a very successful beggar

·         Authority/power.    How many different ways this comes into the story.   A comment on the society?   A Christian theme?   An implied point about nature and the soil

·         What do we understand from the singing episodes? 

·         The beggar saves his money and has been almost life long.  The moujik boasts that he spends lots of his on drink
·         Several ways in which the moujik tries to deal with his sense of failure and lack of self-worth.  What are these?
·         Is there something special about the moujik’s idea that the beggar’s calico is a grave shroud?
·         Is the end of the story being foreshadowed here?   Is it being foreshadowed in the references to Satan.

·         The final demand for the beggar’s money is accompanied by an appeal to the Love of The Queen of Heaven.   And he’s to give the Moujik his money ‘of your own will’. 

·         There is no ‘twist’ at the end of the story.  We’re lead to expect the murder and it happens.  Except at the end the mujik seems to throw the money away.  I’m not sure if he does or not.

·         Is the freshly plowed field into which he casts the amulet, metaphorical in any way?  And his head turning into stone?   He is already, emotionally, a stone, for all his ranting and tearfulness.   Or is it much more subtle, to do with, “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.



Born: Voronezh, Russia, 10 October 1870. Education: Educated at the Gymnasium, Elets, 1881-85, and then at home in Ozerki; University of Moscow. Family: Married 1) Anna Nikolaevna Tsakni in 1898 (separated 1900), one son; 2) Vera Muromtseva, with whom he had lived since 1907, in 1921. Career: Editorial assistant, Orlovskii vestnik [Orel Courier], 1889-91; secretary, department of statistics, Poltava district administration, 1892-94; opened bookstore, 1894, and distributed publications of Tolstoi’s, q.v., publishing house, Posrednik: arrested for selling books without a license, but escaped prison sentence; entered literary circles in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 1895: in early years associated with the Symbolist publishing house Skorpion, and, after 1901, with Gor’kii’s, q.v., Znanie publishing house until 1909; travelled to Switzerland and Germany, 1900,Constantinople (now Istanbul), 1903, Egypt, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Singapore, 1911, and three times to Capri, visiting Gor’kii, 1911-14; lived in Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa during Revolutionary turmoil, 1918-20; moved to Constantinople, 1920, and eventually arrived in Paris, 1923, via Serbia and Bulgaria: settled in Grasse, southern France. Elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences, 1909. Awards: Pushkin prize, 1903, 1909; Nobel prize for literature, 1933. Died: 8 November 1953.

This story was written in 1914 when he lived briefly with Gorky in Capri. 


he week following the Passover, was named "Fomin" (named after the Apostle Thomas, who believed in the Resurrection of Christ after he felt the wounds of the Savior). It is popularly known as Wired. Traditionally at this time commemorate the dead. Every day, St. Thomas's week has as its title, and customs, they are all associated with the commemoration ...

 Monday called "wires". It is believed that the Easter period, the dead come to visit their homes to celebrate their own Easter. We are also living in this earthly world, it is believed to meet the deceased, to (treat) them and then help them return to that light. Thus, according to tradition, on Monday begin to see off ancestral to the other world.

  Tuesday - This is the main day of St. Thomas the week, which is called Radunitsa, Radonjic, Radanitsey, Radovnitsey. In the 19 century Navy Day and Radonitsa merged into one and have to cope in a vivid manner. According to scientists, "Radonitsa" comes from the word "joy", which brought the resurrection of Christ.

Ancient Slavic custom, was a holiday Radonitsa, which was held in the spring in honor of Rhoda, the creator of the universe, the first Slavic god. At Radonjic turned to dead ancestors asking for protection home, protect it. Young asked the blessing for love and marriage. On the eve of Radonjic usually heated bath for ancestors, prepared towel and soap, but do not wash.

Also, they brought goodies and crushing them on the graves of loved ones (pastry, pancakes, memorial kutyu, painted eggs, beer, wine, etc.). Then were treated yourself. At the churchyard burned funeral fires. This day was made to sing songs and dances led. Grief is often passed in merriment. Not for nothing is known proverb: for Radonjic morning plow, the day crying, and jumping in the evening. And all because, after Easter, spring began field work on Radonjic people visited the cemetery, and to the evenings fun.

From these pre-Christian rituals, funeral rites of spring are on St. Thomas's week. Parish Charter requires visiting cemeteries after Easter week: "Easter is for believers is the entrance into a world where abolished death, and where all who can resurrect, already alive in Christ." On this day in churches committed catholic requiem. People go to the cemetery to the graves of their loved ones and symbolically Christ with them. Kutyu tasting, drink vodka or wine, no clinking glasses. They remember the warm words of the deceased. It is believed that the deceased shared a meal with the living. Remains treats crumble, and a memorial of vodka poured on the grave. Part of the funeral foods (candy, sweets, cakes, painted eggs) distribute around and kids "for the repose of the soul."

 Thursday. considered the most dangerous day of St. Thomas the week: the day the dead come to their homes. To adequately meet them, in one of the rooms for the night left the feast and open windows. In the room is strictly forbidden to enter until dawn. To protect themselves from unwanted corpses simultaneously undertaken and certain measures of protection: house sprinkled poppy seeds on the corners and lighted candles before the icons passionate. If the family is drowned, the entertainment left in the water or thrown into a river.

In Fomin [b] Saturday 
in the village came the expulsion of death. With the whole village gathered young and old, women and armed with brooms, pokers, and other household goods, and shouted death curse. It was believed that the longer and more fun to frighten the ghost, the more secure you can get rid of any disease. In addition, people goes round the cemetery with knives in their hands and shouted: "Run, run, evil spirits!". In this way, sought to alleviate the suffering of the deceased after death.

  Sunday at St. Thomas's week is called the Red hill. On this day, trying to get rid of all the sad thoughts and feelings. At elevations arranged massive mall, fun games and danced. Also on this day occurred bride future brides. On the eve of the villages went oklikalytsiki, who performed under the windows of newlyweds Cheering song and invited all residents to the mall

Also called bast fiber. any of several strong, woody fibers, as flax,hemp, ramie, or jute, obtained from phloem tissue and used in themanufacture of woven goods and cor

Dans l'ancienne Russie, un moujik était un homme de la campagne, un paysan de condition modeste. Le sens de ce mot a un peu évolué, il désigne à présent un homme de basse classe sociale. Il désigne aussi, péjorativement, un être rustre et ignorant

Izba                                                      Round cracknel           MOUJIK

eldritch (comparative more eldritch, superlative most eldritch)

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