Sunday, June 17, 2012

Qusar, Azerbaijan; Image Gallery

Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (Russian: Михаи́л Ю́рьевич Ле́рмонтов; IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil ˈjurʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ˈlʲɛrməntəf]; October 15 [O.S. October 3] 1814 – July 27 [O.S. July 15] 1841), a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", became the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837. Lermontov is considered the supreme poet of Russian literature alongside Pushkin and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism. His influence on later Russian literature is still felt in modern times, not only through his poetry, but also through his prose, which founded the tradition of the Russian psychological novel.

Lermontov was born in Moscow into a respectable noble family of the Tula Oblast, and grew up on the Tarkhany estate in the village of Tarkhany (now Lermontovo) in Penza Oblast. According to legend, his paternal family is descended from the Scottish Earls of Learmont, one of whom settled in Russia in the early 17th century, during the reign of Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov. The legendary Scottish poet Thomas the Rhymer (Thomas Learmonth) is thus claimed as a relative of Lermontov. The only ascertainable genealogical information states that the poet was descended from Yuri (George) Learmont, a Scottish officer in the Polish service who settled in Russia in the middle of 17th century.

Lermontov's father, Yuri Lermontov, like his father before him, was a military man. Having moved up the ranks to captain, he married the sixteen-year-old Maria Arsenyeva, to the great dismay of her mother, Yelizaveta Alekseyevna. A year after the marriage, on the night of October 3 (Old Style), 1814, Maria gave birth to Mikhail Lermontov. According to tradition, soon after his birth some discord between Lermontov's father and grandmother erupted, and unable to bear it, Maria fell ill and died in 1817. After her daughter's death, Yelizaveta Alekseyevna devoted all her love to her grandson, constantly afraid that his father might move away with him. Either because of this pampering or continuing family tension or both,the young Lermontov developed a fearful and arrogant temper, which he took out on the servants, and in vandalising his grandmother's garden.

As a small boy Lermontov listened to stories about the outlaws of the Volga region, about their great bravery and wild country life. When he was ten, Mikhail fell sick, and Yelizaveta Alekseyevna took him to the Caucasus because of its better climate. That was the beginning of his love for this region. 

To express his own and the nation's anger at the loss of Pushkin (1837) the young soldier wrote a passionate poem, Death of the Poet, — the latter part of which is explicitly addressed to the inner circles at the court, though not to the Tsar himself. The poem all but accuses the powerful "pillars" of Russian high society of complicity in Pushkin's death. Without mincing words, it portrays that society as a cabal of self-interested venomous wretches "huddling about the throne in a greedy throng", "the hangmen who kill liberty, genius, and glory" about to suffer the apocalyptic judgment of God. 

The tsar Nicholas I, however, seems to have found more impertinence than inspiration in the address, as Lermontov was forthwith banished to the Caucasus as an officer in the dragoons. He had been in the Caucasus with his grandmother as a boy of ten, and he felt himself at home, with emotions deeper than those of childhood recollection. The stern and gritty virtues of the mountain tribesmen against whom he had to fight, no less than the scenery of the rocks and of the mountains themselves, were close to his heart; the tsar had exiled him to his spiritual homeland. 

Lermontov visited Saint Petersburg in 1838 and 1839, and his indignant observations of the aristocratic milieu, where fashionable ladies welcomed him as a celebrity, occasioned his play Masquerade. His doomed love for Barbara Lopukhina was recorded in the novel Princess Ligovskaya, which he never finished. Lermontov's duel with a son of the French ambassador led to him being returned to the army fighting the war in the Caucasus, where he distinguished himself in hand-to-hand combat at the Battle of the Valerik River, the basis for his poem Valerik. 

By 1839 he completed his most important novel, A Hero of Our Time, which prophetically describes a duel like the one in which he would eventually lose his life.On July 25, 1841, at Pyatigorsk, fellow army officer Nikolai Martynov, who felt offended by one of Lermontov's jokes, challenged him to a duel. The duel took place two days later at the foot of Mashuk mountain. Lermontov was killed by Martynov's first shot. Several of his verses were discovered posthumously in his notebook. He is buried at Tarkhany.

Mount Shahdagh (Azerbaijani: Şahdağ) is a mountain peak of the Greater Caucasus range, located in Qusar rayon of Azerbaijan, close to the border with Russia. The elevation of the peak is 4,243 metres above the sea level. Prehistoric cave dwellings have been discovered at the base of the mountain indicating habitation for over 9,000 years. Among the earth rocks found in Shahdag are magnesian lime, chalkstone and marble. 

In February 2007, an Azerbaijani team of eight climbers ascended Shahdag, but could not reach the unconquered peak, which is still one of the last remaining unclimbed summits of Azerbaijan, because the tall cliffs surrounding it on all sides and strong winds make it extremely difficult and dangerous. 

The ascent was done under extreme conditions of an unusual route through frozen waterfalls that are frozen at the foot of the mountain, attended by eight of the most experienced climbers of the country. Such an ascent is possible on Shahdag only during the winter season, when the hundred-meter waterfalls flowing down the slopes of the mountain, turn into giant ice blocks. 

Since the mountain is entirely bordered on all sides by tall cliffs, the only approach of climing the mountain is only with climbing gear through the above mentioned technical rock and 

waterfall climbing routes. Winter temperatures at Shahdag average -20°C.

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