Monday, June 30, 2014

Bunin's Head Looks Askance at Life

This is a detail of the head, from the Ivan Bunin monument in Yelets, Russia, unveiled in 1995. The sculptor is Yury Grishko. In the years of his emigration Bunin once visualized such statues in his honor:

"In some city square, where, early on a summer evening, slender-legged working-class children will chase each other around that statue with idiotic shrieks, while it stands there eternally mute and unmoving" (cited in Night of Denial, p. 613).

Little did he know what ignominy is in store for the man whose image is made into a monument. The last time I was in Yelets I noticed that vandals had written unseemly things all over Bunin's head, and one leg looked to have been broken off, then reattached. You wonder how far and wide the local police had to search, before they found that plundered leg. Then again there is the monumental problem of the pigeons.

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