“[Mikhail Lermontov is] a poet of immense lyric intensity.” —Joseph Brodsky, winner, 1987 Nobel Prize for Literature
Mikhail Lermontov (1814 – 41) is best known in the West today as the author of the novel A Hero of Our Time. But at the time of his death, aged only 26, he was widely regarded as Russia’s greatest living poet. He achieved almost instant fame in 1837 with ‘On the Death of a Poet’, his tribute to Pushkin – whose death in a duel foreshadowed Lermontov’s own. Over the course of the next four years he went on to write many short poems, both lyric and satirical, and two long verse narratives. He was particularly known for his depictions of the Caucasus, where he was exiled for a time, taking part in battles such as the one described in his poem ‘Valerik’. Lermontov traced his ancestry to Scotland, and this book offers a Scottish perspective on the Russian poet. Most of the translators are Scottish or have Scottish connections, and some of the poems are translated into Scots. As Peter France writes in his introduction, this bicentennial volume aims to bring Lermontov’s poems to a new readership by enabling them to ‘live again’ in English and in Scots.