Mei, Lev Aleksandrovich
Born Feb. 13(25), 1822, in Moscow; died May 16(28), 1862, in St. Petersburg. Russian poet.
The son of an impoverished nobleman, Mei graduated from the Tsarskoe Selo Lycee in 1841. Although his early works proclaimed the ideal of art unencumbered by social concerns, Mei gradually turned to social themes. A number of his lyric poems treat the theme of art doomed in a chaotic world. His best poems, many of which have been set to music, reveal depth of feeling and an ability to convey complex emotions. Influenced by folklore and historical events, his byliny and songs are somewhat stylized.
Mei’s verse dramas, The Tsar’s Bride (1849) and The Maid of Pskov (1849–59), which faithfully re-create the past and historical personages, were important to the development of Russian drama. Operas based on the plays, with music by Rimsky-Korsakov, are staples in the repertoire of Soviet theaters. Mei’s translations of H. Heine, P. J. Beranger, Byron, A. Mickiewicz, Anacreon, and T. G. Shevchenko were praised by N. G. Chernyshevskii and N. A. Dobroliubov.
WORKSPoln. sobr. soch., 4th ed., vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1911.
Izbr. proizv. Introduction by G. M. Fridlender. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Izbr. proizv. Introduction by K. K. Bukhmeier. Leningrad, 1972.
REFERENCESDobroliubov, N. A. “Stikhotvoreniia L. Meia.” Sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Reiser, S. A. “Mei.” In Istoriia russkoi literatury, vol. 8, part 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
S. A. REISER