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Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov (in Russian, Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов, October 15, 1814, Moscow-July 27, 1841, Piatigorsk), writer and romantic Russian poet, sometimes called “the poet” of the Caucasus. “
He was the most important figure in Russian poetry from Aleksandr Pushkin’s death in duel to his own, four years later, under the same circumstances.
He was born in Moscow, descendant of a Scottish family established in Russia since the 16th century (the Learmount family, descendant of a Scottish poet Thomas Learmonth of Erceldoune, and, by the word House of Lerma), resident in the Penza province, he lived in the village of Tarjany, where his remains are preserved. It belonged to the same generation as Vasili Zhukovski and Aleksandr Pushkin.
Because of the premature death of his mother, and the military fulfillment of his father, he was left in the care of his grandmother who provided him with the best possible education: with foreign tutors and private tutors, he learned from childhood French, German and English; but her childhood was saddened by the constant confrontations between her father and her grandmother. The intellectual atmosphere in which he developed during his youth was the same in which Pushkin lived, although the use of French (in the writers) began to give ground in favor of English, when Alphonse de Lamartine shared his esteem with Lord Byron, who read in their original language, along with other authors such as Shakespeare, Chateaubriand, Rousseau, Goethe and Schiller, among others. Sensibility and talent for arts and letters soon dawned on him; He started in poetry and painting-he drew very well-in music and theater.
From the Lyceum of Moscow he went in 1830 to enroll in the Faculty of Political and Moral Sciences of the University of Moscow; but his career was abruptly interrupted due to the intervention he had in certain acts of student insubordination against the academic authorities. In 1832 he entered the Military Academy and from then on his life would be linked to the army. Until 1834 it belonged to the school of the officers of the Guard of St. Petersburg, from where it was assigned to the regiment of hussars in Tsarskoye Selo. The young soldier openly expressed his anger as well as that of the nation before the loss of Pushkin (1837) through a passionate poem addressed to Tsar Nicholas I, The Death of the Poet, one of the most brilliant poems in Russian literature and in the one who asked for revenge for the murder of the poet in a duel in which his pistol had been altered so that he could not shoot.
However the Tsar found in the poem more impertinence than inspiration and Lermontov was sent to the Caucasus as an officer of the dragons to try to subjugate the rebels of Chechnya, refugees in the mountains. He had lived in the Caucasus with his grandmother, so he did not feel strange in a land full of memories of his childhood. The austere and rigorous qualities of the mountaineers whom he had to fight, as well as the mountainous and rocky landscape, were familiar to him: the emperor had sent him to his true land. There he met exiled mavericks and rebellious Georgian intellectuals.
Lermontov returns to St. Petersburg in 1838 and, in 1839, is banished again to the Caucasus because of a duel against Ernest de Barante, son of the French ambassador. It is when he writes the novel A hero of our time (Герой нашего времени), whose protagonist, Pechorin, the disappointed, is a reflection of himself. Pained and disgusted by unrequited love towards several women, a man of a sullen character and a sharp tongue, he challenged and was challenged to several duels and he was wounded on more than one occasion, until finally he died in Piatigorsk, aged 27, in July 1841, in a duel with Nikolai Martynov. For this duel he chooses, expressly, the edge of a precipice so that, “if one of the combatants falls mortally wounded, his fate is sealed”.
Lérmontov published, only, a small selection of poems in 1840. Three volumes considerably mutilated by censorship were published by Glazunov and two complete editions of his works appeared in 1860 and 1863. Bodenstedt’s German translation of his poems (Michail Lermontov poetischer Nachlass, Berlin, 1842, two volumes), was, in fact, the first satisfactory collection by means of which Lermontov was known outside of Russia. His poems had several translators (August Boltz, Berlin, 1852, etc.) Lérmontov describes the tragedy of the youth of his time, youth of liberal and educated thinking that was dissatisfied with the social situation, felt abandoned and considered his life not it made sense With this work he creates the initial premises for the development of the psychological novel in Russia, which qualifies him as the founder of Russian realism.
In his first poems he imitated Pushkin and Byron, but his poetic style was immediately established, it is clearly perceived in the change of themes such as, for example, in the poem “The candle in which he speaks of a well-being that can only be achieved” fighting. In other poems it reflects with vehemence the thought and the feelings of the young students who rebel and show their indignation before the situation of the servant, the rejection of the tsarist despotism and the passionate aspiration by the freedom. In the unfinished novel Vadim written in 1832-1834, he defends, with all conviction, the oppressed peasants and talks about the insurrection of Yemelyan Pugachev.
In the drama Baile de mascaras, forbidden by censorship, Lérmontov attacks the nobility. Among his best-known poems are The Demon, The Novice and a memorable imitation of the Russian ballad, The Song of Tsar Ivan Vasilievich, the young oprichchnik and the gallant merchant Kaláshnikov.
“El Demonio”, a painting by Mijaíl Vrúbel (1890).
A minor planet 2222 Lermontov, discovered by the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernyj in 1977, was named after him.
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