As stated in the excellent introduction this book is a portrait not a story: so don't bother reading it if you want a beginning, middle and an end or for that matter any sense of chronology. Nevertheless the engrossing narrative consists of numerous adventures accompanied by painterly descriptions of the landscape, revealed by several narrators. The Byronic hero of the title (Pechorin/Lermontov) offers the reader a nihilistic, possibly misogynistic, Romantic, whose objective narcissisms infects those around him with often devastating consequences (emotional, physical and spiritual). Pechorin often refers to fate, possession, evil and death. His women are submitted to emotional abuse and all around him he only sees mediocrity. Pechorin is bored, aimless, spiteful and fatalistic. He appears to think he is a victim but his actions dictate otherwise. For example, the `frightened' Princess Mary refers to Pechorin as `a dangerous man' and he responds with surprise, `Am I really like a murderer, then?' Princess Mary replies `No, you're worse.' Of course Pechorin, the victim, justifies his behaviour, explaining in a revealing passage (p.106), that since a boy `everyone saw evil traits that I didn't possess.' Cue hatred for a world he wanted to love, manifesting in a confession laced with resentment, jealousy, despair and deceit eventually referring to himself as `a moral cripple.' Similarly Pechorin's emotional coldness and self imposed objectivism are clearly evident at the start of a particularly exciting section (p.134), where he states that `For a long time now I've lived by intellect, not feeling.'