Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time: A Critical Companion

Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time: A Critical Companion

Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time: A Critical Companion

Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time: A Critical Companion

Synopsis

A compilation of articles on & views of the first Russian novel of psychological realism.

Excerpt

Lewis Bagby

A Brief Biography

Mikhail Lermontov (1814–41) is considered the second most important Russian poet of the nineteenth century, after Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837). This opinion, held by critics in Russia and abroad, is of no small consequence, for Lermontov's verse is held up against the poetic achievements of many accomplished poets of the Golden Age of Russian verse. Lermontov's poetry is recited to this day: it is on the lips of both national figures and provincial educators in the Russian Federation. What is remarkable about Lermontov's credited verse is that it was almost entirely written between the time he was twenty-three and twenty-seven. Adding piquancy to the stature of his aesthetic accomplishment is the woeful fact that he was killed in a duel.

Lermontov's poetry holds a special position in Russian culture, but his importance also derives from the one novel he published in his lifetime, A Hero of Our Time. the novel took the public by storm in 1840 and has continued to disturb, challenge, and excite readers and critics since that time. It has been praised as the first novel of “psychological realism” in Russian prose and as a critique of the repressive times in which Lermontov lived. Lermontov's life coincided with the notorious historical period when political, economic, and social ideas had to go underground, surfacing indirectly in works of art rather than in public forums or in the public media that the police and censor controlled for content. A Hero of Our Time is one such work, a seminal one at that.

Lermontov stands as a key figure in Russian culture of the second . . .

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