LERIDA, Spain, a northeastern province of ancient Catalonia; area, 4,690 square miles; pop. 291,850; density 60.4 to the square mile. Capital Lerida (q.v.).
LgRMONTOF, Mikhail Y6ryevitch, Rus sian poet and novelist: b. Moscow, 1814; d. 15 July 1841. He was descendant of a Scotch man, named Learmont, who emigrated to Rus sia. The Lermontof family were small land owners in the government of Tula. His mother died at the early age of 21 when he was only two-and-a-half years old and his father, of whom nothing is known beyond the fact that he was an army officer, confided the child to the care of his grandmother, an aristocratic lady who owned the village of Tarkhanui not far from the town of Penza. She did every thing in her power for his education so that he might take a high position in the world of fashion.
When he was in his 13th year he was put into a boarding school for boys of noble birth, in Moscow, to prepare for the university and there spent five years, recognized even then for his brilliant mind and attractive qualities. He was admitted into the university but was soon involved apparently without direct fault in a trivial escapade which the stern discipline then in vogue punished by expulsion. As this cut him off from his chosen career, he went to Saint Petersburg and in March 1832 enrolled himself in the Yunker School where he re mained two years. During this time he de voted himself assiduously to poetical composi tion and produced his (Ulansha,"Mongo) (in which he described himself under the name of ((Myoshka"), and (Peterhofsky Prazdnik) ((A Festival at Peterhof') as well as several Cau casus poems, such as Izmail-Bey and Hadji Abrek. In these he showed a tendency to be cynical and was openly an imitator of Byron, who exercised a great influence over the young writers of Russia. In 1834, shortly after he had left the Yunker School, he wrote his drama (Maskarad' and a semi-epic poem, 'Boyarin Orsha.' But his definite career as a writer be gan two years later, when at the cold-blooded murder of Pushkin in an enforced duel, he published a monody the Death of a Poet' which created a sensation. In March of the same year Lermontof was attached as ensign in the Nizhigorodsky Regiment of Dragoons and was sent to Georgia. Through the efforts and influence of his grandmother he was speedily recalled, however, and was transferred to a regiment of the guards. His first im portant work on his return was his celebrated (Song of the Tsar Ivan Vasilyevitch, The Young Life-guardsman, and the Bold Merchant Kolishinkof ) which was immediately recognized as introducing a new spirit into Russian litera ture. In this he seems definitely to have
found himself, or at least to have discovered what wealth there was in the folklore of the Russian people. No longer is there any trace of the cynical romanticism of the Byronic epoch. In its way, though not so extended a work, it was a considerable improvement on his clumsily constructed but nevertheless beauti ful epic, 'Demon,' with which his name is more familiar to foreign readers, perhaps partly be cause portions of it were set to music by Rubinstein. 'Demon' was written between 1829 and 1834, and when published attracted at first little attention. In 1839, after a period of comparative inactivity, he brought out a series of tales which were afterward united under the title, (Heroi Nasheva Vremeni) ((A Hero of our Time)). Its chief character, Petchorin, was meant to be a type of the Russian practising the vices of that generation, and judging from the author's descriptions in his private letters of his own mode of life, it is evident that, like Byron, he painted a portrait of himself. Petchdrin, like Tchitchikof in Gogol's Souls) and Oblomof in Gontcharof's great novel, became a household word. In February 1840, in his capacity as a hero of his time, he fought a duel with the son of the famous French historian, De Barant, then ambassador at the Russian court, and as a punishment was transferred without loss of rank to the Tengin sky Infantry Regiment and for the third time sent to the Caucasus. On the way he wrote his famous poem, (Tutchki nyebyesnuiya, vyetchnuiye stranniki) clouds, per petual wanderers'). The same year appeared his (Hero) in book form and the first corn plete edition of his poems, most of which had been printed in Otetchestnyennuiya Zapiski ("Annals of the Fatherland"). On 15 July 1841 he picked a quarrel with one of his comrades, by the name of Martuinof, and was killed. His friends buried him in a grave over which poured the bright sun of the Cau casus which he loved so well; but later his body was transferred to an arched tomb in the little village of Tarkhanui where he had spent his childhood. He was only 27 years old and, like Pushkin, in the prime of his genius. His death was an irreparable loss to Russian let ters; but even during his brief life, which was one year longer than Keats' and only three years less than Shelley's, he won for himself a position not much inferior to that of Pushkin.