Lermontov began work on the poem when he was just 14 or 15, but completed it only during his Caucasus exile. Lermontov wrote six major variations of the poem, and the final version was not published until 1842, after his death.
The poem is set in Lermontov's beloved Caucasus Mountains. It opens with the eponymous protagonist wandering the earth, hopeless and troubled. He dwells in infinite isolation, his immortality and unlimited power a worthless burden. Then he spies the beautiful Georgian Princess Tamara, dancing for her wedding, and in the desert of his soul wells an indescribable emotion.
The Demon, acting as a brutal and powerful tyrant, destroys his rival: at his instigation, robbers come to despoil the wedding and kill Tamara's betrothed. The Demon courts Tamara, and Tamara knows fear, yet in him she sees not a demon nor an angel but a tortured soul. Eventually she yields to his embrace, but his kiss is fatal. And though she is taken to Heaven, the Demon is left again "Alone in all the universe, Abandoned, without love or hope!...".
- Liukkonen, Petri. "Mikhail (Yuryevich) Lermontov". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Nina Khachiyan (December 2006). "Vrubel's Demons". Nina Khachiyan's website. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2011. (in English)
- "Michael Lermontov (1814–1841)". Friends & Partners. 2005 . Retrieved March 1, 2011. (in English)
- Bill Donahue. "The Caucasus Mountains, in the spirit of writer Lermontov". Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
- Novikov, V, ed. (1996). "Demon". Все шедевры мировой литературы в кратком изложении. Сюжеты и характеры. Русская литература XIX века [All the Masterpieces of World Literature in Summary Form. Plots and Characters. Russian literature of the 19th Century] (in Russian). Moscow: Olympus. Retrieved March 1, 2011. (in Russian)
- Mikhail Lermontov - The Demon in English and Russian
- Full text of Demon (in Russian)
- Full English translation at Archive.org (in English)
- Another English version (in English)
- Pulhritudova, E (1964). ""Демон" как философская поэма" ["Demon" as a philosophical poem]. Творчество М. Ю. Лермонтова: 150 лет со дня рождения, 1814—1964 [The Works of Lermontov: 150 years from his date of birth, 1814–1964] (in Russian). Moscow: Nauka. pp. 76–105. Retrieved March 1, 2011. (in Russian)
- Analysis of Demon at Russian Cinema (in Russian)
- Analysis of Demon at Litra.ru (in Russian)
- Comparative analysis of Demon and Mtsyri at Erudition.ru (in Russian)
- Reid, Robert (1982). "Lermontov's Demon: A Question of Identity". Slavonic and East European Review. School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London (60): 189–210. (in English)