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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

  • Classification – name: Literary studies
  • Author: Elda Garetto
  • Pages: 15–25
  • Publisher: A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IWL RAS Publ.)
  • Rights – description: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (СС BY-ND)
  • Rights – URL: Visit Website
  • Language of the publication: Russian
  • Type of document: Research Article
  • Collection: I.A. Bunin and his Time: Context of Life — History of Work
  • DOI:
  • Year of publication: 2021
  • Place of publication: Moscow
  • PDF

  • Garetto, E. “Ivan Bunin's Controversy against Delfino Cinelli on His Book ‛Tolstoy’.” I.A. Bunin and His Time: Context of Life — History of Work. Ex. eds. T.M. Dvinyatina and S.N. Morozov; Eds. A.V. Bakuntsev and E.R. Ponomarev. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2021, pp. 15–25. (In Russ.)

About the author:

Elda Garetto, DSc in Philology, Professor, University of Milan, Рiazza S. Alessandro 1, 20123 Milano, Italia.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


The paper aims to outline the context of the XI chapter of “The Liberation of Tolstoy” by Ivan Bunin and, in particular, his polemical response to the monograph about Leo Tolstoy, published by the Italian writer Delfino Cinelli in 1934. Bunin saw in Cinelli’s work a typical example of a widespread false interpretation of Tolstoy’s personality. Based on reviews and articles by A.V. Amfiteatrov in the periodicals of the Russian diaspora and unpublished correspondence between Amfiteatrov and Ivan Bunin and other émigrée writers, the essay outline the role of Amfiteatrov in acquainting Russian readers with the positions of Italian criticism about Tolstoy. A comparison of various Italian sources shows that Amfiteatrov’s reviews reflected the echo of the polemic about Tolstoy, which was very lively in Italian cultural circles at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in particular the views of the writer and philosopher Giovanni Papini on this issue. This episode can be seen as a case study of the heterogeneous reception of Tolstoy’s work and personality within the framework of the interaction between the Russian emigration and the European culture.

  • Keywords: Ivan Bunin, Leo Tolstoj, Delfino Cinelli, Aleksandr Amfiteatrov, literary criticism.


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