Kuprin A. I.

Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin (1870 – 1938) was a Russian writer and adventurer. His vast body of work reflects his extensive travel and a great variety of jobs he tried his hand at, including theater and aeronautics. Kuprin’s characters are as varied and exciting as his life. They include soldiers, actors, circus performers, children, and animals.

Kuprin’s father, Ivan Ivanovich, a minor government official, died when Alexander was only a year old, and the writer was brought up primarily by his mother, Lubov Alexeyevna, a Tatar princess. Like so many nobles, Lubov Alexeyevna’s family fortune was gone by the early 19th century, but nevertheless, she was able to provide her son with excellent education in the elite schools, hoping he would eventually have a brilliant military career. Much to her disappointment, Kuprin was bored in the army and revolted by the mind-numbing training routines, the crassness of the officers, and the unfair treatment of the lower-class soldiers. The only good thing that came out of his time in the army was a wealth of writing material and ideas for more essays and novels.

Once his first post-army works were published, Kuprin quickly gained acknowledgment of his fellow writers, including such giants of Russian literature as Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, and Ivan Bunin. Despite literary success, his personal life was tumultuous, and his mental health – fragile. The latter was further exacerbated by the political upheaval in 1917 revolution in Russia, after which Kuprin uprooted his family and moved to Paris. He resided in France for the next twenty years, still writing and traveling, but, according to his own journals and letters as well as his friends’ memories, becoming a very different man compared to the vigorous, larger-than-life person to which they were all accustomed to. Kuprin returned to Russia a fragile, broken man, seeking only to die and be buried in his native country.

For some time his work was suppressed by the Soviet government as “decadent” and “immoral”. However, it underwent a huge revival after World War II, and Kuprin’s stories are cherished by readers of all ages to this day.

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