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Becoming Mikhail Lermontov: The Ironies of Romantic Individualism in Nicholas I's Russia
by David Powelstock
Northwestern University Press, 2005
eISBN: 978-0-8101-6589-2 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-1931-4 | Paper: 978-0-8101-2788-3
Library of Congress Classification PG3337.L47R77 2005
Dewey Decimal Classification 891.713

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841) is one of Russia's most prominent poets--and one of its most puzzling. In this radically new interpretation, David Powelstock reveals how the seeming contradictions in Lermontov's life and works can be understood as manifestations of a coherent worldview.

By bringing to light Lermontov's operative version of Romantic individualism, Powelstock is able to make sense of the poet's relationship to "romantic irony," his highly modern concept of the reader (both real, and implied in the text), and his vexed passion for his predecessor Alexander Pushkin--a relationship that is almost always treated sentimentally, but is here given its true competitive edge. Furthermore, Powelstock offers the most persuasive account ever given of Lermontov's exceptionally odd treatment of, and success with, women--both in real life and in fiction--and of his cruel overlapping of these two planes.

Clarifying what has remained perplexing for so long, and correcting what has been misinterpreted, Powelstock's work illuminates Lermontov's views of dignity, death, love, nature, society, and ethics--and, finally, gives us an intellectual biography that is deeper and more subtle than any written before.

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