Narrative strategy and rebellion in Scott and Lermontov: The Black Dwarf and Vadim

Marina Elepova, Nataliya Beloshitskaya, Robert P. Irvine

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This essay compares Walter Scott’s novel The Black Dwarf (1816) with the first, unfinished prose fiction by Mikhail Lermontov, Vadim (written 1832–34). It argues that, while Lermontov clearly modelled his misanthropic protagonist on Scott’s, he does so in order to align that misanthropy with the causes of political rebellion as Scott does not; Scott is aware of this possibility, since it is there in his source text, Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, but it is one which his plot avoids. At the same time, Lermontov borrows from Scott (as Scott adapts from Shakespeare) the use of soliloquy to give the reader limited access to the protagonist’s mind; but as Vadim becomes active in a rebellion against Catherine the Great, this is increasingly supplemented by omniscient access to the protagonist’s point-of-view, another possibility refused by Scott. Both texts are experiments in fiction, though in different ways, and this essay uses Lermontov’s development of Scott’s model to shed light on the narrative procedures of both.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalScottish Literary Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2021


  • Scott, Walter
  • Lermontov, Mikhail
  • The Black Dwarf (novel)
  • Vadim (novel)
  • Scottish literature
  • Russian literature


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