Meet Anna Bunina – the first professional poet in Russia and a contemporary of Pushkin

Bunina’s next major publication was probably in 1803 in Vestnik Evropy: the poem in the prose “Melancholy walk of a Russian woman” was not signed, however, the comparison of events allows us to assume paternity. In a letter to PN Semenov, the poet stated that Karamzin published her work in his magazine and praised it, despite its style imperfections:

Gradually, with the acceptance of a new way of thinking and new rules of behavior, the style itself begins to acquire some smoothness. Despite its lack, however, my essay, sent to Karamzin in 1804, was published by him in Vestnik Evropy with approval.

As you can see, Bunina dates this event to another year. However, between the publications in Vestnik Evropy for 1803 and 1804, The Melancholic Walk was the only work by a woman to be accompanied by the publisher’s praise:

The publisher does not know the author’s name, but knows she is smart and polite. readers will know too. Contrary to everything that is said and written against women writers, their creations have some special pleasure for us.

Karamzin was well acquainted with the circle of writers around the noble boarding school in Moscow and was a keen follower of the publications of young writers. A few months earlier, in issue 24 of Vestnik Evropy for 1802, he published Zukovsky’s Rural Cemetery: in the words of a contemporary, “he gladly accepted it – he saw perfection in it”. As you know, Karamzin’s praises for Zukovsky became a passage in the great literature. It is possible that the publisher of Vestnik also knew who the author of The Melancholic Walk was, but remained anonymous, respecting the author’s will. His critique is dominated by admiration for the fact of female paternity, but if we turn to the text of the story itself, we can see that he was undoubtedly stylistically close to Karamzin.

The pattern of loss in the text, according to our hypothesis, is not only associated with an emotional tendency, but has a biographical basis. It is known that Bunina was deeply impressed by the untimely death of a close friend (it remains unknown; several epitaphs are also dedicated to her). In “Melancholic Walk” there is a theme that characterizes Bunina’s next works – the sufferings of the soul, the acceptance of the trials sent to her: “All-Perfect was not happy to produce us for happiness.” People live and suffer ” , added one philosopher.To add: “They argue, reason, enlighten” For what? At least not for happiness! The background for meditative reasoning is nature. The narrator “in the field, alone, away from home” – this motivation also shows a connection to Karamzin poetry.VN Toporov noted the importance for Karamzin not only of the landscape, but also of the process of walking itself: , without a goal, and leads the narrator to this amazing point where it is so friendly and organic “natural landscape” united with the “historical”.

The “Melancholy walk” takes place at night, at twilight, at the favorite time of the emotional. The narrator argues that nature can influence thoughts and feelings, “nurture melancholy” and inspire “faint tenderness”: Maybe in this calm moment for me, but for you a sad moment, you will go, my friend ! on a clear, moonlit night, feed your melancholy with the view of the quiet nature. The rays of a gentle month will pour faint tenderness into your soul. A shadow of a tree lying in places on the grass, a dead silence, a noticeable fluctuation in the air, all together will captivate and terrify you. Suddenly a leaf will fall from a branch and with its rustle will attract your attention. You will say: “This is an aspect of human life! Yesterday, its fresh greens represented healthy juices. Now time or luck separates it from the vital system of the tree. but it will not disappear into the world and will be mixed with the dust for a new plant formation. What will happen to us in death?

The “melancholy” mood that accompanies the discussions about the weakness of the being, the organization of the landscape and the focus on the “emotions” make it possible to mark this text as sentimentality. The publication in Vestnik Evropy was not really a debut, but given the reputation of the publisher and the magazine itself, it could be perceived as such.

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