Bunin's "Night Conversation" (1912) counters two conceptions of Russian cultural life that he considered erroneous: the intelligentsia's idealization of the narod or "folk" and their reputed adherence to the realist tradition of Russian literature. Bunin does this by fashioning "Night Conversation" as a polemic with Turgenev's "Bezhin Meadow" and by carrying his argument into three facets of his work: portrait, conversation, and setting. "Night Conversation" can thus be seen as marking a crucial transition in the portrayal of the folk in Russian literature as well as in Bunin's own evolution as a writer. It signals a revamping of the peasant-hero from "realist" to "contemporary" and, what is more important, the implicit willingness of Russia's "last barin in literature" to assist in the passage.

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