Ivan A. Bunin was little known in the United States until he received the Nobel Prize for literature, the first Russian writer to do so. By then he had decades of extensive literary activity behind him. In the intensely group-oriented literary milieu of turn-of-the-century Russia, Bunin largely remained a loner, working within the realist tradition in prose but enriching it with a powerful lyric element. He traveled abroad a great deal and used exotic locales as settings for many of his works. An outspoken opponent of the Bolsheviks, he emigrated to Paris and ironically, years after his death, he became celebrated in the Soviet Union as a major writer. Bunin's themes are diverse, ranging from a changing Russia to the universal human experience. Born into an impoverished rural-gentry family, he often wrote about the decline and passing of a way of life. Sometimes his depiction of provincial Russia is elegiac; at other times it is violent and tragic, as in the novella Dry Valley (1911]). A number of his works, such as the remarkable short story "The Gentleman from San Francisco" (1915), may be read as allegories of human encounter with the transcendent. In later years, Bunin grew increasingly preoccupied with problems of sexual attraction and death, evidenced in his last collection of stories, Dark Avenues (1930). In 1933 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Bunin died in 1953.