By Elizabeth Allen
A Fallen Idol remains to be a God elucidates the old forte and value of the seminal nineteenth-century Russian poet, playwright, and novelist Mikhail Iurevich Lermontov (1814-1841). It does so via demonstrating that Lermontov’s works illustrate the of residing in an epoch of transition. Lermontov’s specific epoch was once that of post-Romanticism, a time whilst the twilight of Romanticism used to be dimming however the sunrise of Realism had but to seem. via shut and comparative readings, the e-book explores the singular metaphysical, mental, moral, and aesthetic ambiguities and ambivalences that mark Lermontov’s works, and tellingly replicate the transition out of Romanticism and the character of post-Romanticism. total, the ebook unearths that, even supposing restricted to his transitional epoch, Lermontov didn't succumb to it; in its place, he probed its personality and evoked its ancient import. And the ebook concludes that Lermontov’s works have resonance for our transitional period within the early twenty-first century besides.
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Additional info for A Fallen Idol Is Still a God: Lermontov and the Quandaries of Cultural Transition
Between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence” (21, 22) to any cultural assumptions. Novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton remarked this kind of discomfort in the nineteenth century when he wrote: “We live in an age of visible transition. To me such epochs appear . . ” British soldier and memoirist Frederick Roberts echoed the sentiment somewhat later: “It is an awful moment [of transition] .
As Blake said in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, “Energy is the only life” (34), and he provocatively urged, “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires” (38). We might find exceptions, but they will turn out to prove the rule—any action is superior to no action at all. Goethe’s Faust dramatically exemplifies this point, and Goethe’s God applauds him for it under the credo: “Man errs as long as he will strive” (87), and humans learn too easily to rest. Errors or not, earnest striving and zealous actions express and enhance the integrity of the self.
Pervaded by cultural anomie, post-periods are times of transition out. The anomie of post-periods or transitions out converts what might be a moment of maximal cultural freedom into an expanse of dispiriting disorientation and uncertainty. These periods are thus more likely to bring to culturally attuned artists and intellectuals living in them not buoyant liberation from stifling standards, or even a comforting feeling of participation in broad cultural patterns or cycles that would be perceptible in retrospect, but a disruptive loss of stabilizing and inspiriting ideals.