Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)
ph_0111204732-Lermontov.jpg Mikhail Lermontov Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Mikhail Lermontov’s narrative poems include “Cherkesy” (1828; “The Circassians,” 1965), “Kavkazsky plennik” (1828; “A Prisoner in the Caucausus,” 1965), “Korsar” (1828; “The Corsair,” 1965), “Ispoved” (1831; “A Confession,” 1965), “Aul Bastindshi” (1832), “Sashka” (1834-1836), “Khadshi Abrek” (1835), “Boyarin Orsha” (1835-1836; “The Boyar Orsha,” 1965), “Tambovskaya kaznacheyska” (1838; “The Tambov Treasurer’s Wife,” 1965), “Pesnya pro tsarya Ivana Vasilievicha i udalogo kuptsa kasashnikove” (1838; “Song of the Tsar Ivan Vasilievich and the Bold Merchant Kaksahnikov,” 1965), “Mtsyri” (1839; “The Novice,” 1965), “Skazka dlya detey” (1840; “A Fairy Tale for Children,” 1965), and Demon (1841; The Demon, 1875). Of these, the two best known and most important are “The Novice” and The Demon. They have strong dramatic overtones, especially in their use of dialogue. Both are set in the rugged mountains of the Caucasus, in a dreamlike world, and both deal with the problem of freedom versus fate and question the possibility of a free intellect devoid of moral considerations.

Although The Demon has remained more popular, “The Novice” is considered aesthetically superior. It is perhaps the most sustained piece of poetic rhetoric in Russian and abounds in lush descriptions of the wild Caucasian landscape. The wilderness of nature represents the untamed spirit of a novice, one who was adopted by the monks as a child but who yearns for the freedom of life and love. The rather vague plot tells of his escape from the monastery, his encounter with primitive natural elements, and his subsequent death. In this dream narrative, a journey through the unconscious, there is both a haunting musical...

(The entire section is 743 words.)