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A Hero of Our Time (1840)

by Mikhail Lermontov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,050463,055 (3.91)108
In its adventurous happenings-its abductions, duels, and sexual intrigues-A Hero of Our Time looks backward to the tales of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron, so beloved by Russian society in the 1820s and '30s. In the character of its protagonist, Pechorin-the archetypal Russian antihero-Lermontov's novel looks forward to the subsequent glories of a Russian literature that it helped, in great measure, to make possible.… (more)

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» See also 108 mentions

English (43)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I know speculation doesn't do anyone any good, but just imagine the kind of work Mikhail Lermontov could have produced had he not been killed at the age of 26. Look at what Russia's greatest 19th century authors were doing when they were 26. Chekhov had just gotten his first newspaper job. Tolstoy had just left the army. Gogol's first draft of Taras Bulba was being ripped to shreds. Dostoevsky hadn't even been exiled to Siberia yet! None of them had come even close to creating a work as brilliant as A Hero of Our Time. It's impossible to say whether or not Lermontov would have reached the heights that the others did, but at least give the guy a chance! Duels are just the worst.

The strength of A Hero of Our Time comes entirely from the "hero" himself, Pechorin. While the supporting cast tends to fall into Romantic stereotypes, Pechorin is a brand new character, the first of his kind in Russian literature. He was clearly influential in Russia; I recognized bits and pieces of him in Bazarov from Turgenev's Fathers and Sons as well as Dostoevsky's Underground man.

Nabokov bitched about Lermontov's prose because he was a joyless mope, but I enjoyed it. I much prefer a Romantic narrative to the Romantic characters within that narrative, if that makes any sense, and the novel followed more or less along Romantic lines. It's both a fairly short and fairly quick read, and it's well worth the time.

I don't want to sound like I'm saying the book is just great for a young author, rather than objectively great, but I do think it matters. He might have only lived to be 26, but what he did in those 26 years gave him a social sagacity and insight that escapes most people twice as old. Lermontov's understanding of the importance of perspective, and his subsequent willingness to ignore it through the lens of Pechorin, proves that emotional maturity comes independent of age. Read A Hero of Our Time and recognize this feat for what it is. As Chekhov said, "Still just a boy, and he wrote that!" ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
hard to get into. ( )
  mahallett | Jul 13, 2019 |
Bluesy, Devil-may-care young officer comes to a bad end. Ouch! Slow-moving, roundabout, VERY good novel. Left me wondering who took all the oxygen out of the room, ( )
  NathanielPoe | Mar 3, 2019 |
A Hero of Our Time is a novel in a superficial sense. By that I mean it cannot be seen alongside later Russian epics by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy. It is a series of sketches, foreshadowing both the psychological insights of Dostoyevsky and the fragmentary episodes found in Tolstoy's short stories. Therefore, I am left in a dilemma. On the one hand, how can I criticize a progenitor of the classic Russian novel? On the other, any honest reviewer will remark that Lermontov's effort is deficient relative to those of his followers. Indeed, if an alien were told that A Hero of Our Time was written at the same time as The Idiot or Anna Karenina, he would wonder why we even bother with Lermontov. In the same vein, I read for pleasure and cannot wax lyrical now about what in 1840 ought to have been considered a masterpiece.

Lermontov's descriptions of the Caucasus landscape are a bore. This novel is all about the protagonist, military officer Pechorin, and the highlights are found in his diaries. Pechorin is flawed. He teases, humiliates, insults, lies. He places no value on friendship, has no respect for women, love is but a whim. Some reviewers say that he is not so harshly painted. I disagree. I cannot see an iota of compassion in him. I almost wish Pechorin was the loser in his pitiful duel. In my favourite passages Pechorin describes passionately his upbringing and history. Just for a moment I feel sorry for him, but then he ruins another life and his transgressions once more put his ego to the fore.

One cannot, try all he might, escape the unique context of this novel: the tsar's criticism of A Hero of Our Time, the death of Lermontov himself in a duel, the birth of a new genre of Russian writing. All students, though not necessarily all admirers, of the Russian novel should read this work. ( )
  jigarpatel | Feb 27, 2019 |
This is a re-read of this classic short 1840 Russian novel about a "superfluous man", an army officer Grigory Alexxandrovich Pechorin, and his adventures, especially romantic ones, in the Caucasus. Much of it is quite amusing, but this lacks the punch of the great Russian classics by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and I found it a bit more of a chore than on my previous read nine years ago. This edition was oddly formatted with alternating lines containing large blank spaces, though it did include illustrations from the original Russian publication. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
One of the most interesting, eye-opening books I've read. The novel is full of everlasting feelings and motives that ruled human beings in ancient times and keep ruling now.

» Add other authors (61 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lermontov, MikhailAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foote, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Labute, NeilForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Longworth, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malmsten, UlfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nabokov, DmitriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nabokov, VladimirTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nilsson, Nils ÅkeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Randall, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schot, Aleida G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallenius, AliceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was travelling post from Tiflis.
There's a gang of them formed, armed with lorgnettes, and they look menacing. (pg 113)
my best pleasure is to subject everyone around me to my will, to arouse fellings of love, devotion and fear in me - is this not the first sign and the greatest triumph of power? p110
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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The Planet

2 editions of this book were published by The Planet.

Editions: 1908478535, 1908478527

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1907832343, 190783236X

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