Bunin “Loopy ears”
Bunin’s story “Petty ears” is very inferior to “The Lord from San Francisco”, but written in the same powerful manner, with the same force of a full-sound and wonderfully heavy word. A terrible impression is made by the picture of night Petrograd, sustained in amazing colors. Reality is turned into dark fantasy. You believe the author on the word, on the word of the artist, the power that “at night, in a fog, Nevsky is terrible. He is deserted, dead; mist, fogging it, seems to be part of the very Arctic mist that comes from where the end of the world is, where something incomprehensible to the human mind is hidden and called the Pole. The middle of this smoky stream is still illuminated from above with the whitish light of electric balls … The luminous clock of the Nikolayevsky railway station, already dark, released all its trains into the depths of a snowy and wooded Russia … that terrible, fat horse that always oppresses, in rain or fog a big head, asking for a reason from your sturdy rider. ”
With this background merges heavy, vague trouble and anxiety the defiant figure of a man who calls himself a former sailor, Adam Sokolovich, and during the cruel Buninsky story quietly kills, stifles a prostitute taken from the panel, whose “wide-eyed eyes, had in itself something resembling a bat. ”
Why did he kill her? The story would have been much stronger if we didn’t know this precisely, if we really “put on the secret” the room of the deaf hotel, behind the window of which “the ominous flame blazed and the intimate, night work roared deafly” (on the next construction site).
But Bunin, unfortunately, at the beginning of the story, took off his mask from his mysterious stranger and forced him, in the company of two fellow sailors, to verbally and literally explain his theory, which was so suspiciously harmonious and too straightforward for it to be artistic and vital, followed by his terrible practice. Adam Sokolovich, it turns out, does not think that the sign of degeneration, “looped ears”, should be peculiar only to geeks; and he develops the philosophy of cruelty and passion for murder, as something inherent to everyone, and the philosophy of the “invincible thirst for murder”, inherent in the other. He illustrates his views with examples from life and history, does not believe that “the inventors of submarines, which let several thousand people sink to the bottom,” felt conscience, Cain or Raskolnikov; he does not believe that we suffer when we read that “the Germans are poisoning the wells with plague bacilli, that the trenches are filled up with rotting corpses, that military aviators are dropping bombs on Nazareth.”
“Soon Europe will become a solid kingdom of murderers. But after all, everyone knows perfectly well that the world will not go a bit insane from this. They used to say that it was very scary to go to Sakhalin. But I wish I knew who would be afraid to go in a year or two in Europe? ”
And as if in order to finally give himself a head, that is, to more fully reveal his tendentiousness and completely make the hero a mouthpiece of copyright thoughts, his porte-parler, Bunin puts into the mouth of Sokolovich obviously not his literary opinion: , only one Raskolnikov, and even then only because of his own anemia and the will of his evil author, who shoved Christ into all his tabloids ”…
And in the end, Sokolovich, expressing the judgment that “people in general are drawn to the murder of a woman, much more than to the murder of a man; our sensory perceptions are never so attentive to the body of a man as to the body of a woman … and what is the importance of really crushing a reptile with a boot – well, at least just out of curiosity, “he said so and strangled a prostitute.
Bunin, thus, with his journalism and moralization, not only put an end to “i”, he did something worse and even less artistic — he first put a big and thick point, and then wrote “i”. He first outlined the theory, and then gave her practice. All practice, that is, all that is in the story is a story, is made with an amazing concentration of talent; but his theory (without even touching on the question of whether it is correct or not) is only a theory, and it weakens the immediate aesthetic power of the work. The reader, realizing that among the countless combinations in the world, the combination of “Looped ears” is possible, nevertheless treats it skeptically and does not think that it would be the most plausible and typical. Those who philosophize about murder do not kill (Raskolnikov doesn’t count); and those who follow their instincts are rarely aware of them. Bunin also produced something similar to Jack London’s other characters – the Sea Wolf, for example: philosophical and literary refinement in too peaceful cohabitation with bloodthirstiness and robbery. In any case, the writer did not convince us that he did not show us that it was precisely in the personality of his hero, Adam Sokolovich, that such irreproachable symmetry could exist.