Displaying his characteristic balance between sympathy and detachment, Vickery has first provided a concise, but richly detailed account of Lermontov's brief and tragic life. His approach is above all sensible - down-to-earth and fair. Lermontov was a romantic, really the only Russian poet who fully fits that designation. Vickery understands very well the romantic ethos, but he is no romantic him self. He treats with tolerant but ironic amusement the adolescent posturing of Lermontov's early Byronism. He is less tolerant of the frequent arrogance and even cruelty in Lermontov's behavior toward those close to him, especially women. On the other hand, Vickery recognizes Lermontov's genuine longing for intimacy and affection and credits his capacity for friendship and generosity. He also effectively traces all these conflicting im pulses in Lermontov's poetry.
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