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A Hero of Our Time (Classics) [Mass Market Paperback]

M.IU Lermontov , P. Foote
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Jan 1975 Classics
In five linked episodes, Lermontov builds up the portrait of a man caught up in and expressing the sickness of his times. A marvelous novel and an early landmark in Russian literature, A Hero of Our Time served as an inspiration for many later Russian authors, including Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New impression edition (30 Jan 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044176X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441765
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 952,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A hero for our times, too, perhaps.' -- The Evening Standard

‘galloping new translation’ -- The Independent --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Author

When this novel appeared in Russia in 1840 there was shock, there was horror. It was a slander and a libel and a slur on the younger generation. This often happens when a novel or play touches to the quick, but we do have to admit to our appetite for shock and horror. The equivalent in our time was The Angry Young Men, and while the fuss and noise was largely the creation of the Media, nevertheless it all went on for about ten years, and that couldn’t have happened if people hadn’t wanted to be shocked. There were actually reports of fathers trying to horsewhip their daughters’ impudent suitors. Splendidly anaphronistic stuff.
The emotions A Hero of Our Time evoked went rather deeper. Lermontov, unpleasantly attacked, said the book was indeed a portrait, not of himself, but of a generation. He was far from apologetic and spoke out of that sense of responsibility and authority then possessed by Russian writers. They saw themselves, and were generally regarded, as a public conscience. The writers of no other country have ever enjoyed this role.
So when Lermontov said he had diagnosed the illness but it was not his business to prescribe the cure, he disappointed. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What heroism is really all about? 14 July 2004
Lermontov's book is a brilliant precursor to the great Russian novels of the 19th century. It is principally the story of Pechorin, the hero of the title, a Russian officer posted to the Caucasus. He is, however, not a hero in the classical sense, but rather an ambiguous character. Where traditional heroes are motivated by the desire to do good, Pechorin is motivated by the desire to avoid boredom. When he chases women it is not for love, but to give himself a project, regardless of the effects he has on his targets. Although, he arouses the admiration of his fellow officers, they are also repelled by his callousness and lack of morals. He is a great antihero, beginning a tradition that was later followed by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and other Russian authors, with their morally ambiguous protagonists. Lermontov's hero is more classically romantic than those of the other author, but Lermontov stops short of making Pechorin into some sort of Boy's Own hero. The distaste with which the other characters view Pechorin constantly remind the reader that at the heart of his rogueish exterior is a really selfish man, one who we both admire and pity. Although later books have achieved characters like Pechorin with more subtlety, he remains the archetype . I enjoyed reading this book immensely, and, if any of the above intrigues you, suggest that you will as well.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian Roulette 18 Nov 2010
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
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.'
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Byronic tales from wild Russia 13 Nov 2009
By technoguy VINE VOICE
Lermontov is in the line of outsider poets who also wrote novels like Pushkin whom he wrote a poem on,"Death of a Poet",an outspoken denunciation of Russian society,that scorns genius and drove it to its death.The theme of the great individualist who lives by his own codes,amoral,reckless,daring,unable to settle down,a wanderer. Lermontov was arrested and as punishment was posted to a lesser regiment serving in the Caucasus.He was to return to St.Petersburg,celebrated as Pushkin's heir.He wrote this new form of novel involving 5 tales,interlinked and set in the Caucasus.The personal motifs are Perchorin's relationship with women,who fall in love with him and whom he rejects,the social motifs take in his conflicts with a pretentious junior who he kills in a duel and the fact that all people seem to hate him,want him to fall or fail.Above the mediocre herd,a misfit,he is conscious of his superflousness.Byronic,superior,proud and energetic,life is unable to fulfil his expectations.He scorns emotions and his intellect is dominant over his feelings.He rides roughshod over the feelings of other people.His victims, women and men ,are strewn along the way.His predatory instinct,persecutes and destroys people,plays with their affections,people are food to nourish his ego."Bitter medicines and harsh truths are needed now" (Preface).His whole life,he says,has been an attempt to go against heart or reason.Although free from illusions about life,he is subject to the power of emotions,seen in Bela's death,his love for Vera,his pity for Princess Mary and his self-pity. Read more ›
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
On one level this is a fantastic piece of travel writing detailing a young officer's journey from the elegant drawing rooms of Russia's heartland to the wild and lawless Southern Caucasus. However the book also follows the moral journey of the Hero, and allows Lermontov to put the boot into the stale and self serving ruling classes who's banality is nearly as gigantic as his ennui. Whilst the geographical journey takes in crazy characters, wild situations and beautiful places, the moral adventure examines the Hero's alienation not just from his peers but from the rest of humanity. Lermontov's Hero is not simply disgruntled however, he has an alternative, if somewhat manufactured amorality which is in many ways very appealing. All in all an excellent read conbining costume drama, travel writing and philosophical introspection: Like Sartre only well written and interesting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Not very inspiring
Published 1 month ago by captainlogica
5.0 out of 5 stars lyrical descriptions of the Caucasus
The novella describes the progress of Pechorin whose ennui causes him to manipulate all the characters he meets on his wanderings through the Caucasus. Read more
Published 2 months ago by biddybest
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb - Helps us focus on Russian interests in the Caucasus and Black...
A Hero of our Time
Mikhail Lermontov Penguin Classics ISBN 978-0 -14 -310563-3
Introduction and translation by Natasha Randall

Superb, 169 pages – read it in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by JPSreviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough around the edges, but overall effect is stunning
Start here for Russian literature - perhaps try this before going on to the lengthier works. It's where it 'fits' in the country's lexicon. Read more
Published 3 months ago by TwiningsClassic
1.0 out of 5 stars which translation
I haven't read this yet, I am just trying to identify the best translation and having seen that Amazon has appended the same 11 reviews to at least three different translations, I... Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2012 by jd
5.0 out of 5 stars This is more like it
This is, quite simply, the way a novel should be written, in my opinion. Not that the structure should be a goal in itself, because it is rather unorthodox, but this book has... Read more
Published on 1 Nov 2010 by Blackbeard
5.0 out of 5 stars I Was Ready To Love The World But Learned To Hate
Perhaps not a novel in the traditional sense with exposition, rising action, climax and resolution using Freytag's structural analysis but more a journal of five events in the life... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2009 by demola
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read
Having bought this book mainly as something to read while travelling I found it to be not only a wonderful read but a gold mine of information. Read more
Published on 13 July 2008 by Gogol
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly low key, but a dramatic last 40 pages
Much of this short novel was quite amusing but pretty unremarkable, but it stepped up a gear or two during the duel scene at the end of the Princess Mary section, uncannily... Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2007 by John Hopper
5.0 out of 5 stars my favourite book
This is my favourite book. I first read it when I was heli-skiing in the Caucasus. The book works a bit like a Tarantino film, the non-chronological order of the stories helps... Read more
Published on 16 Feb 2006
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