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Аул Бастунджи

January 19, 2010
Я знал, что ваш пророк — не мой пророк,
Что люди мне — чужие, а не братья;
И странствовал в пустыне одинок
И сумрачен, как див, дитя проклятья!
Без страху я давно б в могилу слег;
Но холодны сырой земли объятья…
Ах! я мечтал хоть миг один заснуть,
Мою главу склонив к тебе на грудь!..

(chapter 2, stanza VI, spoken by Selim to Zara)

Full text in a new window.  The poema was published only posthumously, partially in 1860 and fully in 1883, but written in 1833-34.

Dedication (Тебе, Кавказ) of 4 numbered stanzas, chapter 1 with 42, chapter 2 with 34, total of 80.  Poem is mainly in iambic pentameter with at least one line of hexameter (Спрыгнул один, потом другой…что это значит?, ch. 1, stanza XIV).  Rhyme scheme aBaBaBcc.

Characters: brothers Akbulat and Selim, Akbulat’s wife Zara.

Allusions and entire borrowed lines are said to be frequent in Lermontov.  One possible allusion here is “о творец,/ Чей бледный труп он видит пред собою?” which resembles a passage in Pushkin’s “Бахчисарайский фонтан”: “Чью тень, о други, видел я?” etc.  In L., unlike P., the question has a concrete answer that is swiftly given; there is also no obtrusive first-person narrator in “Аул Бастунджи,” except in the dedication.  The “I” of the dedication declares he belongs to the Caucasus, though he is in the North, and adopts a stance of alienation (“Моей души не понял мир. Ему/ Души не надо”), as does Selim in the stanza quoted above.

Vocabulary for local color is ubiquitous: apart from toponyms, personal names, and nature descriptions, we have черкес/черкешенка, табун, аул, сакля, мечеть, мулла, пророк, аллах, алкоран, шайтан, and others.

Interesting moments: near the end (ch. 2, stanzas XXVIII-XXX) there is a long curse of the murderous Selim that appears to be spoken by the hitherto unintrusive third-person narrator, which wishes on him an ignominious death, poor treatment of his corpse, and his rejection by the Prophet in heaven for his cruelty.

Kidnapping of brides is mentioned by Akbulat to Selim as an abstract possibility (ch. 1, stanza XXIV), but it is emphasized that Zara comes with Akbulat voluntarily (ch. 1, stanza XVI).

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