Ivan Bunin’s story “Dark alleys” was written in 1938 and entered the collection of stories “Dark alleys”, devoted to the theme of love. For the first time the work was published in 1943 in the New York edition of New Land. The story “Dark alleys” is written in the tradition of the literary direction of neo-realism.
Nikolai Alekseevich is a tall, thin man of sixty years, a military man. In his youth he loved Hope, but abandoned her. He was married and has a son.
Hope is a woman of forty-eight, the innkeeper of the inn. All my life I loved Nikolay Alekseevich, because of what I did not get married.
Klim – coachman Nikolai Alekseevich.
“In a cold autumn fume,” a
When the coachman stopped the tarantas, the military entered the room. Inside it was “warm, dry and tidy”, in the left corner was “a new golden image”, in the right – a chalk-beaten stove, from behind the flap of which came the sweet smell of cabbage soup. The visitor took off his outer clothes and shouted at the hosts.
Immediately into the room came “dark-haired,” “black-browed,” “a beautiful woman of no age, similar to an elderly gypsy woman.” The hostess invited the visitor to eat. The man agreed to drink tea, asking to put the samovar. Asking a woman, a visitor finds out that she is not married and herself is a farmer. Suddenly, the hostess calls a man by his name – Nikolay Alekseevich. “He quickly straightened, opened his eyes and blushed,” recognizing in the interlocutor of his long-standing love – Hope.
Worried, Nikolai Alekseevich begins to remember how long they have not seen – “thirty-five years?”. Hope corrects him – “Thirty, Nikolay Alekseevich.” The man did not know anything about her fate since then. Hope told that soon after they broke up, the gentlemen gave her free, and she was never married, because she loved him too much. Blushing, the man muttered: “Everything passes, my friend. <…> Love, youth – everything, everything”. But the woman disagreed with him: “Everyone passes by, and love is another matter.” Nadezhda says that she could not forget him, “she lived all by herself,” recalls that he “gave up very heartlessly” – she even wanted to commit suicide many times, that she called him Nikolay, and he read her poems about “all kinds of things”
Deep into memories, Nikolai Alekseevich concludes: “Everything passes, everything is forgotten,” to which Nadezhda replied: “Everything passes, but not everything is forgotten.” Tearing, the man asks to give horses, saying: “If only God forgave me. However, the woman did not forgive and could not forgive: “as I had nothing more precious than you in the world at that time, and then there was not.”
Nikolai Alexeyevich asks the woman for forgiveness and says that he was also unhappy. He madly loved his wife, but she changed and threw him even more insulting than he Hope. He adored his son, “but a scoundrel, a mottle, an impudent man, without a heart, without honor, without conscience”. “I think that I also lost in you the most precious thing that I had in life.” At parting, Nadezhda kisses his hand, and he kisses her. After the coachman, Klim remembered that the hostess was watching them from the window.
Already on the road Nikolai Alekseevich becomes ashamed that he kissed Nadezhda’s hand, and then ashamed of this shame. The man remembers the past – “Around the wild rose-tree blossom, stood the dark linden alleys…”. He thinks about what would have happened if he had not left her, and there was “this very Hope not the proprietress of the inn, and my wife, the mistress of my St. Petersburg home, the mother of my children?” “And, closing his eyes, he shook his head.”
IA Bunin called the story “Dark Alleys” the most successful piece of the entire collection, his best work. In it, the author reflects on the questions of love, over whether the true feeling is subject to the flow of time – whether true love can live for decades or it remains only in our memories, and everything else is “a vulgar, ordinary story.”
A brief retelling of the “Dark Alley” will be useful for preparing for the lesson or when acquainting yourself with the plot of the work.