IV
The Climax

1

It was not by accident that Lermontov completed his two masterpieces, The Novice and The Demon, only towards the end of his brief life. The fact that he had been preoccupied with both for years before they took their final shape proves that he was anxious to put into them something that was of vital importance to himself. And in this he fully succeeded. Hence their intensity and the pleasure they still give one despite the passage of time.

Like Byron's tale in verse The Prisoner of Chillon, The Novice too is a poetic monologue. It is written in the energetic four-footed iambics which Zhukóvsky used in his fine translation ( 1821) of Byron's poem. Apart from the introduction, the whole of The Novice is a confession (not unlike the monk's confession in Byron Giaour) in which rhythm, phrasing and diction are saturated with an unflagging dynamic quality from the first to the last line.

The poem itself was finished in 1839, but its genesis goes at least as far back as 1830. The earliest highly romantic draft, called simply Íspoved (A Confession), is set in a dungeon where

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Lermontov
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Modern European Literature and Thought 1
  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • I- The Biographical Background 9
  • II- A Poet's Progress 32
  • III- Lermontov and the Romantic Mind 47
  • IV- The Climax 62
  • VI- The Last Phase 92
  • VII- Conclusion 106
  • Biographical Note 108
  • Bibliography 109
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