Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Book as the Internet by Ivan Bunin

It's apple time again and I suddenly had the urge to reread the famous Bunin's short story Antonov Apples. Instead I reread the whole volume.

Book (Книга, 1924), a very short story, only 470 words, suddenly struck me as a lamentation incredibly similar to modern complaints about the internet. Books steal real life from us, make us live in an imaginary (today we say virtual) world and concern about people who had never existed and events  that had never happened. And all the while real life goes past.

Writes Bunin: I read,  lived inside someone else's phantasies, but the field, the house, the village, the men, the horses, the flies, the bumblebees, the birds and the clouds, they all lived their own life, the real life.

Ivan Bunin, the first Russian writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature, is often described as a latter day Turgenev for the crispness, stylistic precision and beauty of his prose. The Book, very similar in format to Turgenev's  poems in prose, is one fine example of this similarity.

I searched for an English translation of this short story on the internet, but could not find one. Please let me know if there is one.

Full Russian text of The Book is here


AJP Crown said...

There's now one here:

Alexander Anichkin said...

Thanks, I've just read it and twitted it too. Very good translation.

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