"O vanity! You are the lever by means of which Archimedes wished to lift the earth!"
"Happy people are ignoramuses and glory is nothing else but success, and to achieve it one only has to be cunning."
- Both attributed to Lermontov
*Mikhail Yur’yevich Lermontov, “the
poet of the Caucasus,” was born on October 15, 1814 in Moscow. His
mother, Mariya Arsenyeva died in 1817, after a falling out between his
father and his grandmother. His father, Yuri Lermontov, was a captain
in the military and was seldom at home. For these reasons young Mikhail
was raised by his grandmother, Elizabeth Alekseevna, who saw to it that
he received an excellent education, procuring tutors for him before sending
him to gymnasium in Moscow. Much like Pushkin, Lermontov grew up in an
intellectual environment and was introduced to literature at an early
age. By the time he went to gymnasium, he was already familiar with Goethe
and Schiller. While at gymnasium, Lermontov was introduced to the work
of Pushkin and became enamored with Byron. He wrote his first poem at
the age of 14. At this time he also developed a reputation for sharp and
sardonic wit. In August of 1830 Lermontov began attending classes at Moscow
University. However, after a short time he dropped out and enrolled at
the school of cadets in St. Petersburg, eventually becoming an officer
in the Guards.
“Lermontov, Mikhail Yurevich.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2001-05. Date of access: 10/11/05. http://www.bartleby.com/65/le/lermonto.html
“Mikhail Lermontov.” Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia. Date of access: 10/23/05. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lermontov
A picture of Lermontov's grave
. VESNA, 1830
A Statue of Lermontov
Works of and Pertaining to Lermontov In Our Library!
Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time : a
critical companion , edited by Lewis Bagby
Writing as Exorcism : the Personal
Codes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol,
Vadim by Mikhail Lermontov ; translated
and edited by Helena Goscilo
Major Poetical Works by Mikhail Lermontov
; translated from the Russian with a biographical sketch and an introduction
and commentary by Anatoly Liberman
Mikhail Lermontov by John Garrard; Main Stacks Main Lvl PG3337.L46 G3 1982
Lermontov : a Study in Literary-Historical
Evaluation by Boris Eikhenbaum ; translated by Ray Parrott and Harry Weber.
Lermontov : Tragedy in the Caucasus
by Laurence Kelly
Mikhail Lermontov : Selected Works
Michael Lermontov; biography and translation,
by C.E. L'Ami and? Alexander Welikotny.
A Hero of Our Time / M. Yu. Lermontov
; translated with an introduction by Paul Foote.
A Lermontov Reader, edited, translated,
and with an introduction by Guy Daniels.
Lermontov by Janko Lavrin ; Main Stacks Main Lvl PG3337.L4 Z856
A Hero of Our Time: a novel translated
from the Russian by Vladimir Nabokov in collaboration with Dmitri Nabokov.
A painting of a battle in the Caucauses
by Lermontov himself
A Hero of Our Time : Chapter Summaries
Bela: A traveling soldier who later becomes our narrator inquires about a man named Grigoriy Aleksandrovich Pechorin who seems to have a recent acquaintance of his, Maksim Maksimich rather charmed. Maksim answers the inquiry with a story about Pechorin. In this story the character of Pechorin is described as extremely charming and somewhat manipulative. At a wedding Pechorin meets a young, beautiful princess and is immediately spellbound. Similarly a local tradesmen/ rogue Kazbich has also taken an interest in Bela. Kazbich is also the owner of an extremely impressive and loyal steed which he treasures. This horse is especially envied by a young, stubborn prince named Azamat. Pechorin eventually convinces Azamat that if he will give his sister Bela to Pechorin, that Pechorin will get Azamat Kazbich’s horse. Naturally the plan succeeds and Bela becomes imprisoned in Pechorin’s quarters. However, Bela eventually warms up to Pechorin and begins to love him. Bela’s infatuation causes Pechorin to lose interest in her as he goes on long hunting expeditions without telling her. Maksim reproaches Pechorin for losing interest in the girl, to which Pechorin responds “My soul has been impaired by the fashionable world..I have an insatiable heart” (41). One day Kazbich shows up to where Bela had been living and manages to kidnap her while Maksim and Pechorin are hunting. When Maksim and Pechorin pursue Kazbich, he stabs Bela with a dagger, killing her and scampers away. Bela’s death upsets Pechorin and he is later reassigned to Georgia.
Maksim Maksimich: Maksim and our narrarator meet again at a military post and learn that Pechorin is nearby. Maksim, having been charmed by Pechorin, immiediately sends for him. Pechorin shows up a few days later and seems very uninterested with Maksim, who feels that he and Pechorin were great friends. Pechorin tells Maksim very little about his recent affairs, refuses to stay for tea, and leaves Maksim with his journal. Maksim, upset at being rejected leaves the journal with our narrarator who decides to publish this journal. From this chapter on, the story is told from the perspective of Pechorin through the texts of his journal.
Taman: Pechorin travels to a gloomy town on the seacoast of Russia called Taman. When inquiring about a local landlord, Pechorin meets a young blind orphan and finds a room for the night. Late in the evening Pechorin sees the blind boy make his way down to the harbor with a bundle. The blind boy meets with a young girl, taking about the arrival of a man named Yanko. Eventually Yanko arrives and it becomes apparent that there is some sort of smuggling operation taking place. The next morning Pechorin confronts the young boy about his encounter at the harbor and the blind boy denies all these allegations, and the landlady supports him, scorning Pechorin. In the evening the young girl Pechorin saw by the harbor invites him in a boat and almost succeeds in drowning him, fearing that he will tell others about their operation. When Pechorin reaches the shore he witnesses Yanko telling the blind lad that they can no longer work this smuggling operation because of Pechorin’s meddling. The young girl leaves with Yanko, and the blind boy is told to stay in the town of Taman. Pechorin laments that he interfered with an honest smuggling operation, and leaves Taman the next day.
Princess Mary: Pechorin arrives at the town of Pyatigorsk, seeing an old acquaintance Grushnitski. Grushnitski is characterized as a brave man who was wounded in combat. Pechorin sees two ladies and is told that they are Princess Ligovskoy and Princess Mary. Pechorin seems to admire the beauty of Princess Mary. After Princess Mary picks up a glass which the wounded Grushnitski he becomes infatuated with her. Pechorin scoffs at his new infatuation just for the sake of infuriating Grushnitski. The next day Grushnitski meets with a friend of his, doctor Werner and they discuss various things including Princess Mary and Grushnitski’s interest in each other. The doctor suspects that Pechorin is scheming to make a fool of Grushnitski and relays information about the Princess to him. The doctor also informs Pechorin that a former lover of Pechorin’s has arrived in town. Pechorin purposely annoys the princess, outbidding her for a rug and stealing many of her guests at various parties by drawing attention to himself. Pechorin meets his former lover named Vera and learns that she is married to a man named Semyon Vasilievich. They embrace and kiss. Pechorin then reveals to the reader that he has managed to never fall a slave to a woman he loves, and that he prefers women who don’t have wills of their own. Upon meeting Grushnitski who is still courting the princess, Pechorin learns that the princess does indeed hate him, finding him arrogant and rude. At a ball in the Princess’s palace, Pechorin saves Princess Mary from having to dance with a drunk earning him the gratitude and acquaintance of both princess Mary and her mother. Pechorin begins to tell the reader of his “system” with which he can manipulate people and situations. He also mourns the fact that he is never fulfilled with women, that he is not capable of passion or romance. Pechorin continues to manipulate the princess into loving him and has to balance his desire to manipulate her with his desire to maintain a relationship with Vera. At a ball Grushnitski desperately asks the princess why she has changed so much when speaking with him. Grushnitski and other men continue to ask the princess to dance to keep Pechorin from dancing with her. Pechorin decides to move to Kislovodsk, and continues meeting with Vera who is clearly in love with him. Similarily, Princess Mary confesses her love for Pechorin. Pechorin learns of a plan in which Grushnitski will challenge him to a duel in order to expose him as a coward. The catch is that the pistols will not be loaded. As he sneaks down into Princess Mary’s bedroom Pechorin is caught by Grushnitski who uses this encounter to challenge Pechorin to a duel. Pechorin agrees. Grushnitski and his cronies change their plan and decide to put a bullet only in Grushnitski’s gun. Pechorin decides to still go to the duel realizing that he will be able to manipulate the situation to his advantage. On the day of the duel Pechorin asks Grushnitski if they can duel on a cliff so as to guarantee the death of the loser. Grushniski takes the first shot and purposely misses, realizing that the fight is unfair. Pechorin asks for his pistol to be reloaded, then shoots and kills Grushnitski. Vera leaves town, leaving Pechorin a good bye love letter. Vera’s departure clearly upsets Pechorin. Pechorin decides to also leave town and tells the princess he cannot marry her.
The Fatalist: To prove his point
about fate to Pechorin, a man named Lieutenant Vulich decides to play
a game of Russian roulette with a single shot pistol. Pechorin maintains
that there is no predestination while Vulich maintains the opposite. Pechorin
is positive from the beginning that Vulich will die that night, but when
Vulich tries to shoot himself with the pistol it doesn’t fire. Pechorin
is shocked at what has happened and decides that he does in fact believe
in predestination. However, Pechorin later receives news that Vulich has
in fact been killed. Pechorin hunts down Vulich’s killer and helps
the authorities detain him. Pechorin concludes the chapter and novel turning
over the arguments for and against becoming a fatalist.
* A very common theme in 19th century
Russian literature including and especially Mikhail Lermontov’s
A Hero of Our Time, is that of the duel. Not only was dueling a large
part of Russian literature but also a large part of Russian life. In fact
both Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov fought in several duels.
It is clear that both men had a certain respect for this tradition which
ultimately led to both of their deaths. While it is unclear when the first
duel took place, there are several rules and practices that appear to
be common in many cultures.
Lovely Lermontov Links
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