Dry Valley (novel)

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Dry Valley
Author Ivan Bunin
Original title Суходол
Country Russia
Language Russian
Genre novelet
Publisher Vestnik Evropy
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Preceded by The Village (1910)
Followed by Ioann the Mourner (1913)

Dry Valley (Russian: Суходол, pronounced: Sukhodo′l) is a short novel by a Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Ivan Bunin, first published in the April 1912 issue of the Saint Petersburg Vestnik Evropy magazine.[1] Having come out soon after The Village (1910), it is usually linked to the latter as the author's second major book concerning the bleak state of Russia as a whole and its rural community in particular.[2] On the other hand, it is often regarded as the last in Bunin's 'gentry elegies' early 1900s cycle (the term he himself was critical of).[1]


Bunin started working on the book in the summer of 1911, when at the Vasilyevsky estate in Orlovskaya gubernia. In September of this year he wrote to the Moskovskaya Vest correspondent: "I've just finished the first part of a large novelet called Dry Valley".[3] The work was finished in December 1911 on Capri where Bunin stayed at his friend Maxim Gorky's home. On February 21 (8) he read it to the host and another visiting guest, Kotsyubinsky. Both praised the book, the latter having compared it to "some kind of an old tapestry".[4]

The book's plot was fictional but there were numerous details in it that proved to be autobiographical. The Sukhodol estate bore close resemblance to a family country house in the Orlovskaya gubernia owned by Bunin’s uncle Nikolay Nikolayevich where Ivan with his younger sister Masha were frequent guests. Aunt Tonya's prototype was Bunin's aunt Varvara Nikolayevna who lived in a large neighbouring country house (and was, in Vera Muromtseva's assessment, "slightly off-kilter"). Pyotr Kyrillovich character in the book was a veiled portrait of Bunin's grandfather Nikolay Dmitrievich (whose mother, beautiful Uvarova girl, died young).[5][6]

Critical reception[edit]

As with Ivan Bunin's previous book, The Village, this one left critics divided. Some saw it as another masterpiece. "In Sukhodol Bunin summed up the whole of the <Russia’s> past and endowed it with magnificent monument", wrote Sovremenny Mir (Modern World) magazine.[7] Others criticized the novel's author for sheer negativism in depicting Russian rural life. "Dirty, hungry, eaten through to its very bones by illnesses and lice – such is Russia as seen through the eyes of Sukodol autor", argued Russkye Vedomosti.[8]


  1. ^ a b Иван Алексеевич Бунин. Собрание сочинений. Том 3. Повести и рассказы, 1907-1911. Изд. Художественная литература, 1965. Стр. 427-28.
  2. ^ Л. Смирнова (1993). "И.А. Бунин "Русская литература конца XIX - начала ХХ века"". Просвещение. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  3. ^ Московская весть, 1911. №3, 12 сентября
  4. ^ Н.А.Пушенков. В большой семье. Смоленск, 1960. Стр 242.
  5. ^ Uvarova family line (on Bunin's father side) is being confused sometimes with that of Chubarova, Bunin's mother.
  6. ^ Иван Алексеевич Бунин. Собрание сочинений. Том 3. Повести и рассказы, 1907-1911. Изд. Художественная литература, 1965. Стр. 476-478.
  7. ^ В.Б. Кранихфелдьд. Литературные отклики. И.А. Бунин. Современный мир, СпБ., Ноябряь 1912, №11, p.348.
  8. ^ Л.Козловский. Певец «Суходола». Русские ведомости. СпБ., 1912. 27 октября. Стр. 248.