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A Good Fellow, but Not a Kindly Soul: Revisiting Lermontov`s Causticity

Научные исследования: 


For citation: Maximov B.A. Dobryj malyj bez malejshego dobrodushija: k voprosu o jazvitel'nosti Lermontova [A Good Fellow, but Not a Kindly Soul: Revisiting Lermontov`s Causticity]. Mediaskop2. Режим доступа
DOI: 10.30547/mediascope.2.2020.3


© Boris A. Maximov

PhD in Philology, Senior Scientific researcher at the Chair of Foreign Journalism and Literature, Faculty of Journalism, lomonosov Moscow State University (Moscow, Russia),



Traditionally Lermontov`s “character flaws” have been seen from a psychological (inferiority complex) or social (stagnancy under Nicholas I) point of view. In this paper, I will argue that Lermontov`s causticity and protervity, an apparent lack of empathy and a certain reservation predetermined and supported his creativity. Much evidence suggest that Lermontov was driven neither by jealousy nor by arrogance, so his behavior was provocative but not egoistic. Instead, he scoffed at various simulacra – such as delusive harmony, vapouring military courtesy, superficial social niceties, abstract speculations, plagiarism, affectation – in order to confuse his “victims” and to force them to reveal their true Selves through a spontaneous, immediate response (be it a bout of laughter, a gush of anger or a slight emotional pain). Afterward he treated his fellowmen in a friendly and comradely way, yet he himself mainly concealed from them his most powerful inner movements and thoughts (i.e. creative impulses, family affairs, religious beliefs). Lermontov rather assumed the role of a moderator and observer (he became notorious for his penetrating glance). Instead of pouring his heart out, Lermontov assimilated the emotional experiences of the Others that helped him to fill in several gaps in the depths of his (artistic) memory.

Keywords: Lermontov, provocation, compassion, frankness, creativity.



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