The Images of Fire in Ivan Bunin’s Prose (1910–1920)

Natalia Prascheruk

Abstract


The author studies the images of fire in Ivan Bunin’s Dry Valley, Sacrifice, Cursed Days, and The Devouring Fire, demonstrating that the writer employs a vast variety of meanings connected with the archetype, referring to the general cultural symbolism and biblical tradition. Taking into account the ambiguous semantics of fire, the writer emphasizes the negative aspects of the meaning of the archetype, interpreting fire as a symbol of destruction, scathing heat and inferno. In this respect, it is not the original character of the newly discovered meanings that matters to the artist but the peculiarities and novelty of the experience conditioned by something that has already been discovered by cultural tradition. The images of fire compared with the main motifs of the works in question turn out to possess a strong phenomenological character. On the one hand, it is expressed by thunderstorms and fires that bring distress and devastation, and, on the other hand, fire symbolizes the characters’ souls, their character and their behaviour: the spontaneity of their feelings, impulsiveness, single-mindedness, and their ravaging passions. In a number of works (Dry Valley, Sacrifice) the writer creates a model of the popular idea of fire as an element and that of heavenly forces controlling it relying on a variety of folklore sources.

Considered as a system, the images of fire are interpreted as manifestations of a disastrous state of the life of the nation and the world as a whole as portrayed in the works of Bunin in the aforementioned period.


Keywords


images of fire; archetype; symbolism; narration; biblical tradition; culture; creation of myths; national aspect; position of the author.

References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2015.2.096

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