A Cold Autumn (Bunin)

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A Cold Autumn
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman reminisces about her fiancé who was killed in war, and the life she lived after his death, believing that he is waiting for her in the afterlife.

In June of a particular year, a man named Ferdinand, who was considered part of the family, visited an estate.

The Fiancé — the narrator's fiancé; a man who was killed in war; loving, brave, and optimistic.

He was killed in Sarajevo on June 15th, and the next day, the family learned about the incident from a Moscow evening paper. The family patriarch declared that it was war. On Peter's Day, a lot of people visited the estate to celebrate the patriarch's name day, and during dinner, Ferdinand was declared the narrator's fiancé. However, on July 19th, Germany declared war on Russia.

In September, Ferdinand visited the family for 24 hours to bid farewell before leaving for the front. The family spent the evening quietly, exchanging calm words and concealing their feelings.

“You live, be happy in the world, and then come to me.” I began crying bitterly…

The next morning, Ferdinand left for the front, and the family bid him a sorrowful farewell. A month later, they received news that Ferdinand was killed in Galicia.

Thirty years later, the narrator reflected on her life after Ferdinand's death.

The Narrator — narrator; a woman who has lived through war, loss, and hardship; resilient, nostalgic, and hopeful.

She lived in Moscow, traded goods for a living, and married a retired military man. They traveled to Yekaterinodar and spent two years on the Don and in the Kuban. Her husband died of typhus at sea while they were sailing to Turkey. She was left with her husband's nephew, his wife, and their little girl. The nephew and his wife disappeared after they sailed to the Crimea, leaving the child with the narrator. She lived in various countries, working hard to support herself and the child. The child grew up and stayed in Paris, while the narrator lived in Nice.

Despite the hardships she faced, the narrator believed that the most significant event in her life was the cold autumn evening when Ferdinand bid farewell.

“I have lived, have been happy, and now I shall soon be coming.”

She believed that Ferdinand was waiting for her somewhere, with the same love and youth as on that evening. She had lived and been happy, and she believed that she would soon join him.