M. Y. Lermontov’S Art Space Of The Genre Of Invective


Modern Lermontov study actively works on problems of poetics by Mikhail Lermontov. One of the priorities in the last decade was the issues related to the analysis of the spatial organization of the whole genre system of the poet. Individual-author's idea of space forms a unique model of the artistic world of Lermontov's poetry. The analysis of spatial organization was considered on the example of 18 texts interpreted by the authors as the invective genre. The spatial characteristic is defined as one of the genre-forming features. The results of the study correlated with the findings of those who study Lermontov`s poetry according to the chronotope of Lermontov without genre differentiation. As a result of the analysis the regularity of the choice of one or another model of spatial organization of poetic invective depending on its belonging to a certain thematic group (political, social, intimate-lyrical) was revealed. The article concludes that in 18 Lermontov invectives there are all kinds of space. The most characteristic of the genre of invective was the opposition: the visual space with real place names / non-visible, spiritual; far / near-space, real / oneiric space. In the vast majority of the invective, an urban space is presented. Usually pointed out by those who study Lermontov`s poetry general impression of disappointment and dissatisfaction is created, in our opinion, due to the spatial characteristics.

Keywords: Artistic spacegenresinvectiveLermontovpoetry


Hundreds of studies examining different facets are devoted to the work of the outstanding Russian classic M. Lermontov (Bauer, 2015; Bondarenko, 2015; Krivonos, 2015; Murashov, 2016; Kildyusheva, 2016). One of the perspective directions of literary studies of the last decades is the study of the spatial organization of a literary text.

Problem Statement

The spatial organization of the artistic world of Lermontov has repeatedly attracted the attention of scientists (Zotov, 2001; Lyapinа, 2015; Gryaznovа & Shvetsovа, 2016; Pykhtina & Korobeynikova, 2014; Leonova, 2015, etc.). However, the invective genre was out of the view of their research interest. Some problematic issues of the invective genre were discussed in Annenkova and Matyash (2001) and Annenkova (2009), but this study will attempt to fill this gap in the research of the Lermontov's poetics.

Research Questions

Research questions of this study are:

  • Identification and interpretation of texts on the selected genre features.

  • Classification toponymic designations in the invective poetry of M.Y. Lermontov.

  • Establishing the relationship between spatial coordinates and thematic groups of Lermontov invectives.

  • Highlight the body of texts for the analysis of the invective genre in the work of Lermontov.

  • Analysis of the spatial organization of the poet's poetic invective.

  • Identification of patterns between the spatial model of text organization and their thematic affiliation.

Purpose of the Study

So, our aim is to determine the spatial organization specifics of the invective genre in the works of M. Y. Lermontov.

Research Methods

The material of the study was 18 invectives identified by the method of continuous sampling from the corpus of texts by Lermontov (1956). Then the collected data was analyzed with the help of complex of methods: structural-descriptive, structural-typological and historical-typological methods. Together with them we use the method of critical study of sources for theoretical understanding of the study degree of the topic and establishment of cause-and-effect relationships in the study. We finish with statistical method.


Spatial organization is one of the genre-forming features of invective. Having analyzed the corpus of texts in this aspect, we came to the conclusion that the spatial organization of the invective is determined by its theme. We have identified three thematic groups of invectives: political, social, intimate-lyrical.

Political invective dominates quantitatively (10 out of 18 texts). From the point of view of spatial reference points in this group, we can distinguish three subgroups: the first subgroup includes invective events that occur in Russia («Novgorod», «Smert' pojeta», «Duma», «Proshhaj, nemytaja Rossija») to the second – in Western Europe («Sv. Elena», «30 ijulja – (Parizh) 1930 goda», «Umirajushhij gladiator»), to the third – pairing of these two worlds («Vozdushnyj korabl'», «Opjat', narodnye vitii», «Poslednee novosel'e»).

In 8 out of 10 political invectives there are real place names denoting the name of the country : «Proshhaj, nemytaja Rossija, / Strana rabov, strana gospod» («Proshhaj, nemytaja Rossija»); «Na beregu o Francii dalekoj / Vospominal Napoleon!» («Sv. Elena»); «Nesetsja on k Francii miloj, / Gde slavu ostavil i tron….» Emu obeshhaet polmira, / A Franciju tol'ko sebe» («Vozdushnyj korabl'»); «V stepjah egipetskih, u sten pokornoj Veny» («Poslednee novosel'e»); «Za delo padshee Litvy, / Na slavu gorduju Rossii» («Opjat', narodnye vitii»); cities: «I bryznula v Parizhe krov'» («30 ijulja – (Parizh) 1830 goda»), «Likuet bujnyj Rim… torzhestvenno gremit… Prosti, razvratnyj Rim, - prosti, o krajrodnoj» («Umirajushhij gladiator»), «V stepjah egipetskih, u sten pokornoj Veny, / V snegah pylajushhej Moskvy» («Poslednee novosel'e»), «Tak v dni voinstvennye Rima» («Opjat' narodnye vitii»); rivers: «V ravnine, gde Jel'ba shumit» («Vozdushnyj korabl'»), «Sverknul v ego dushe… pred nim shumit Dunaj» («Umirajushhij gladiator»); mountain range : «Byt' mozhet, za stenoj Kavkaza» («Proshhaj, nemytaja Rossija»).

In some cases, place names have an evaluative epithet: «nemytaja Rossija», «pokornaja Vena», «gordaja Rossija», «bujnyj Rim», «razvratnyj Rim», «Francii dalekoj».

As our analysis has shown, for Lermontov's invective there was a substantial opposition of visual / non-visual space proposed by Savelieva (2002). 9 out of 10 political invectives are organized as visual space, which «is given with the support of visual, picture perception»: «Kak budet on zhalet', pechaliju tomimyj, / O znojnom ostrove pod nebom dal'nih stran, / Gde storozhil ego, kak on nepobedimyj, / Kak on velikij, okean!» (« Poslednee novosel'e»); «Est' ostrov na tom okeane - / Pustynnyj i mrachnyj granit; / Na ostrove tom est' mogila, / A v nej imperator zaryt» («Vozdushnyj korabl'»); «Est' bednyj grad, tam videl i narody, / Vse to, k chemu teper' vash duh letit» («Novgorod»).

In the first two above-mentioned cases before us appears the island of St. Helena, which became the last refuge of the «velikogomu zharoka» - great man of fate - Napoleon. In the last example we are talking about the city of Novgorod, which has the semantics of national liberty and national independence since the Decembrists’s times.

However, there are invectives, where visual, sensory-visual images become deeply symbolic at the same time. So, in the poem «Smert' pojeta» avaricious spatial signs («svetzavistlivyjidushnyj», «mnenijsveta», «Vy, zhadnojutolpojstojashhie u trona») with unusual brightness expose oppressive, destroying space of the Nikolaev Russia. Metonymic expression «stojashhie u trona» indicates the power and the autocrat, who became indirect culprits in the death of the brilliant poet.

Despite the fact that the political invective is dominated by visual spatial organization, the only text in this thematic group with non-visual space is of great importance for the characterization of the genre. We are talking about the «Duma», where the organizing principle is the space of human life. Usually pointed out by those who study Lermontov`s poetry general impression of «disappointment, dissatisfaction» is created, in our opinion, due to the spatial characteristics – the cradle, the coffin (which, in the terminology of Savelieva (2002), to the inner and private space). These images create the effect of generalization, understanding the life of an entire generation: «Bogaty my, edva iz kolybeli, / Oshibkami otcov i pozdnim ih umom. / I zhizn' uzh nas tomit, kak rovnyj put' bez celi, / Kak pir na prazdnike chuzhom». And as the final meaningless of existence: «I k grobu my speshim bez schast'ja i bez slavy, / Gljadja nasmeshlivo nazad» («Duma»).

This fact can be interpreted in such a way that the fate of the Lermontov generation comprehends not only in socio-political terms, but also in philosophical and ontological, giving it a generalized symbolic meaning. At the ideological and compositional level, this feature was noted by Korovin (1973): “The consciousness of the bitter fate of the generation permeates the poem from beginning to end, only varies in the turns of thought, which is not refuted, but retains a stable character” (p. 28). In our opinion, not only («Ego grjadushhee il' pusto il' temno» - «I prah nash s strogost'ju sud'i i grazhdanina / Potomok oskorbit prezritel'nym stihom…»)», but also the opposition of spatial images «kolybel'» - «grob». Thus, in the «Duma» we deal with a special kind of space, which is closer, as our research shows, to the space of intimate-lyrical invective of Lermontov. But according to the problems of «condemnation of social inertia and spiritual apathy «pokolenii», unable to «ugadat'» - guess - its purpose and find positive civil and moral goals», this invective refers to the thematic group of political invective.

No less interesting from the point of view of the spatial organization of the poem «Smert' pojeta». Above we noted the images that have become symbolic («Vosstal on protiv mnenij sveta», «Zachem ot mirnyh neg i druzhby prostodushnoj / Vstupil on v jetot svet zavistlivyj i dushnyj», «Vy, zhadnoju tolpoju stojashhie u trona»). However, you should pay attention to another spatial characteristic: "«Ego ubijca hladnokrovno / Navel udar… spasen'ja net: / Pustoe serdce b'etsja rovno, / V ruke ne drognulpistolet. / I chtozadivo?...izdaleka, / Podobnyj sotnjam beglecov, / Nalovljuschast'jaichinov / Zabroshen k nampo vole roka» («Smert' pojeta»).

As you know, in these lines we are talking about d’Anthes. It's recognizable both by Lermontov’s contemporaries, and by us, although the nomination of the killer is absent here. The pointing finger of the poet on d’Anthes is a spatial image of «izdaleka» - from far away . The word «izdaleka», which stands in the migration, reinforced by the rhymes («roka»), is the center of this section of the text.

In «Umirajushiy gladiator» in the traditional visual space («Likuet bujnyj Rim… torzhestvenno gremit / Rukopleskan'jami shirokaja arena: / A on pronzennyj v grud' – bezmolvno on lezhit, / Vo prahe i krovi skol'zjat ego kolena…») uncharacteristic political invective of the so-called varicelle (imaginary) space occurs, born by the imagination of the dying Gladiator, «I krov' ego techet – poslednie mgnoven'ja / Mel'kajut, - blizok chas… vot luch voobrazhen'ja / Sverknul v ego dushe… prednim shumit Dunaj… / I rodina cvetet… svobodnyj zhizni kraj» («Umirajushhij gladiator»).

For all Lermontov’s invectives spatial opposition of proximity/remoteness is significant. Spaces close to the author will be considered below in the intimate-lyrical invective group. Invective political group, according to our observations, built on the remoteness of the author from the addressee. Remoteness can be as geographical (invective, dedicated to the shocks of distant France: «30 ijulja – (Parizh) 1830 goda»; sud'be Napoleona: «Sv. Elena», «Poslednee novosel'e», «Vozdushnyj korabl'»; pol'skomu vosstaniju: «Opjat', narodnye vitii»; dramatic events of ancient Rome: «Umirajushhij gladiator», and ideological-political, when invective addressed to people far from the poet's political and moral views («Smert' pojeta», «Proshhaj, nemytaja Rossija»).

In 4 social invectives expressing Lermontov's attitude to the role and importance of the poet and poetry in society, we note a number of typological similarities with the political invective. So, for all social invective is characteristic of visual space. In «Zhurnalist, chitatel' i pisatel'» and «Pojet» there is a traditional political invective real toponymy, when called the countries of the world: «O chem pisat'? Vostok i yug / davno opisany, vospety» («Zhurnalist, chitatel' i pojet»); «Bulat ego hranit tainstvennyj zakal, - / Nasled'e brannogo Vostoka» («Pojet»); state: «Kogda zhe na Rusi besplodnoj, / Rasstavshis' slozhnoj mishuroj, / Mysl' obretet yazyk prostoj / I strasti golo sblagorodnyj?» («Zhurnalist, chitatel' i pojet»); the river: «On vzyat pod Terekom otvazhnym kazakom / Na hladnom trupe gospodina» («Pojet»). It is characteristic that in this invective exact geographical realities are present only in the description of the past. The present is represented by abstract symbols: «v nash vek iznezhennyj ne tak li ty, pojet… / Kak vethaya krasa, nash vethij mir»).

Spatial organization invective («Zhurnalist, chitatel' i pojet ») is a visual space with real place names: «To verno nad Moskvoj smejutsja»», «Kogda zhe na Rusi besplodnoj». At the same time, this text contains a description of the interior decoration of the room: «Komnata pisatelya; opushcheny shtory. On sidit v bol'shih kreslah pered kaminom. Chitatel', s sigaroj, stoit spinoj k kaminu». Thus, the spatial organization of this invective is characterized by the opposition of the space (room) close to the characters and the distant space (Moscow, Russia).

«Ne ver' sebe» is organized by two spatial principles. First, it is a visual space - the space of the crowd: «Ne vyhodi togda na shumnyj pir lyudej»… «Vzglyani: pered toboj igrayuchi idet / Tolpa dorogoyu privychnoj, / Na licah prazdnichnyh chut' viden sled zabot, / Slezy ne vstretish' neprilichnoj». Secondly, it is the non-visual, inner, spiritual space of the «young dreamer»: «Sluchitsya li tebe v zavetnyj, chudnyjmig / Otkryt' v dushe davno bezmolvnoj / Eshche nevedomyj i devstvennyj rodnik… Zakradetsya l' pechal' v tajnik dushi tvoej» («Ne ver' sebe»). These spaces do not just exist in parallel, but are also in relation to the opposition.

For 4 intimate-lyrical invectives the most vivid spatial sign is the space close to the poet. In invective «K*** («Ne ty, no sud'ba vinovata byla»)», «K* («Ya ne unizhus' pred toboyu»)», dedicated to N. F. Ivanova, the author is in close proximity to the addressee. Unrequited love gives rise to an angry, passionately indignant invective, reflecting the personal tragedy of the poet: «Nachnu obmanyvat' bezbozhno, / Chtob ne lyubit', kak ya lyubil - / Il' zhenshchin uvazhat' vozmozhno, /Kogda mne angel izmenil?» («K* («Ya ne unizhus' pred toboyu»)); «Vo sled zatoboj pobezhit moj ukor. / I v dushu on budet vpivat'sya. / I mshchen'e, napomniv, chto ya perenes, / Usta moi k smekhu prinudyat» («K*** («Ne ty, no sud'ba vinovata byla»)).

All 4 intimate-lyrical invectives of Lermontov are characterized by non-visual spatial organization of the text. And as a consequence, they lack real geographical place names, signs of historical time: «K chuzhim goram pod nebo yuga / Yaudalyusya ,mozhet byt'» («K* («Ya ne unizhus' predt oboyu»)); «Zavse, zavse tebya blagodaryu ya: / Za tajnye mucheniya strastej, / Za gorech' slez, otravu poceluya. / Za mest' vragov i klevetu druzej; / Za zhardushi, rastrachennyj v pustyne» («Blagodarnost'»); «Kak v more shirokom sledy chelnoka. / Mnogoven'ya ego vpechatlen'ya» («K*** («Ne ty, no sud'ba vinovata byla»)»); «Kak svezhij ostrovok bezvredno sred' morej / Cvetet na vlazhnoj ih pustyne» («Kak chasto, pestroyu tolpoyu okruzhen»). The place names used in these cases are generally symbolic. For this group invective is not important real time and space, since the initial value is taken by the space of the inner world of the poet.

In «K* («Ya ne unizhus' predtoboyu»)» the inner space is built on the opposition of the world and the beloved: «I celyj mir voznenavidel, / Chtoby lyubit' tebya sil'nej». It narrows to the space at the feet of the beloved: «Kak znat', byt' mozhet, te mgnoven'ya, / Chto protekli u nog tvoih, / Ya otnimal u vdohnoven'ya. / A chem ty zamenila ih?». After the «vnutrennego prozreniya» this space again expands to the limits of the world: «Byt' mozhet, mysliy u nebesnoj / I siloj duha ubezhden / Ya dal by miru dar chudesnyj, / A mne za to bessmert'e on?».

The peculiarity of the spatial organization invective «Kak chasto, pestroyu tolpoyu okruzhen» is that in it, as in the «Pojet», «Umirayushchem gladiatore», two spatial layers associated with time segments of the present and the past. The space of the present – Bal, noisy secular crowd, which is the object of rebuke: «Kogdazh, opomnivshis', obmanyauznayu, / ishumlyudskojspugnetmechtumoyu, / Na prazdniknezvanuyugost'yu, / O, kakmnehochetsyasmutit' veselost' ih / I derzkobrosit' im v glazazheleznyjstih, / Oblityj gorech'yu i zlost'yu!...». Spatial organization present is not striking the subject specifics, what is happening, everything is vague, amorphous, «kakbudtoskvoz' son»: «Prishumemuzykiiplyaski, / Pridikomshepotezatverzhennyhrechej, / Mel'kayutobrazybezdushnyelyudej, / Prilich'emstyanutyemaski».

Paradoxically, the space that is born in the soul of the hero, the so-called varicelle, imaginary space, the missing has the present, real-space subject and the image specifics. As rightly pointed out by Lominadze (1975), “Episode childhood... stylistically cut off from the previous text by sharp object clarity, meticulous detail of the image” (p. 145):

I vizhuyasebyarebenkom; ikrugom

Rodnyevsemesta: vysokijbarskij dom.

I sad s razrushennojteplicej;


A zaprudomselodymitsya – ivstayut


V alleyutemnuyuvhozhuya; skvoz' kusty

Glyaditvechernijluch, izheltyelisty

Shumyat pod robkimishagami.

Artificial landscape spaces predominate here: manor house, garden, greenhouse, village, pond, alley. Insignificant inclusion of images of natural space: «zelenaja set' trav», «polja», «kusty», «zheltye listy».

In «Blagodarnosti» the basis of spatial organization is the opposition of the earthly, human space to the heavenly, divine. The human “personality is the bearer of the highest spiritual values and throws merciless accusations to God” (Korovin, 1973, p. 27).

In the theory of spatial characteristics, in addition to the above, there is a concept of urban space (or space of civilization). According to our observations, the invective space is overwhelmingly urban (15 out of 18 texts).


The analysis of 18 Lermontov invectives allowed revealing the most different types of space in them. The most characteristic of the genre of invective was the opposition: the visual space with real place names / non-visible, spiritual; far / near-space, real / varicelle space. The vast majority of Lermontov's invective is represented by urban space. The spatial model of Lermontov invective is characterized by the following features.

First, contrary to the expectation that spiritual non-visual space will prevail in the lyrical genre of invective, visual space occupies a significant place in invective (13 out of 18 texts). This characteristic is derived from a constant characteristic of the genre of invective – of interest to the addressee.

Second, the spatial characteristic is related to the division of invective into thematic groups. Political invective is characterized by visual, distant space of civilization, intimate-lyrical – non-visual, close space. This group is characterized by a limited set of spatial characteristics. Social invective occupies an intermediate position, combines the characteristics of the first two groups.


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20 April 2020

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Discourse analysis, translation, linguistics, interpretation, cognition, cognitive psychology

Cite this article as:

Annenkova, N. A., & Kudryavtseva, O. S. (2020). M. Y. Lermontov’S Art Space Of The Genre Of Invective. In A. Pavlova (Ed.), Philological Readings, vol 83. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 552-559). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.04.02.63