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A Hero of Our Time (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105633
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


Product Description

Review

"Natasha Randall's English, in her new translation, has exactly the right degree of loose velocity. . . . (Nabokov's version, the best-known older translation, is a bit more demure than Randall's, less savage.)" -James Wood, "London Review of Books" "[A] smart, spirited new translation." -"The Boston Globe" "One of the most vivid and persuasive portraits of the male ego ever put down on paper." -Neil LaBute, from the Foreword

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 an alternate Paperback edition.

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 14 July 2004
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. McCauley VINE VOICE on 2 July 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After multiple readings this novel still holds up. Written in 1841 and mostly set in the wild expanse of the Caucasus, it follows Pechorin, the Byronic 'hero' of the title. He is emotionally reserved, casually brave, cruelly manipulative and seems driven by boredom more than anything else. The novel is told in five short stories, and while a few of the same characters do appear in several of them, they are for the most part separate from one another. Pechorin is first introduced to us by an unnamed narrator, who in fact only meets him for a brief moment later on. The final three stories are taken from Pechorin's personal papers and narrated by him. Four of the stories are very short, while one takes up half of the novel.

This edition also includes a short piece of lesser-known travel writing by Alexander Pushkin called 'A Journey to Arzrum'. It chronicles Pushkin's travels through the Caucasus in 1829. It is mostly a simple telling of events with very few digressions or much spontaneity in the writing. An interesting piece nonetheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 30 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I often find it hard to get to grips with nineteenth-century Russian fiction, culturally much farther away for Brits than our own writers (or for that matter the French). There always seems to be a lot of ponderous discussion, sometimes superfluous, and on this reading Lermontov seems to be no exception. However, A Hero of our Time does have some distinguishing marks.

The main character, Pechorin, is a maverick Army officer, and a rather misanthropic figure; he post-dates the Byronic period, and to some extent pre-figures the fin-de-siecle decadents (think of Huysman's Des Esseintes). But he is also a man of action, preferring to use sword or pistol, saying "I dislike dwelling on any abstract notion", though in fact he frequently does.

For me a striking feature of this novel is that the hero is actively involved in both civilised Russian society and the wildness of Russia's frontiers. This enables the episodes in which he is romantically involved, first with two women from the wilds and then with two socialites (whom he plays off against each other). The novel starts with a journey into remote territory (very like Harker's journey to Dracula's castle) and ends with scenes in a spa resort, where Pechorin pretends to be as naively impressed by the mountain scenery as the Muscovite ladies who have never ventured off the beaten track.

The real puzzle is why Pechorin pursues his destructive course. In the first episode, he tells his confidant Maximich "When I make other people unhappy, I'm just as unhappy myself".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Richards VINE VOICE on 21 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I found the core part of this book to absolutley fantastic.

Lermontov's story of Pechorin (a 19th Century Russian socialite and army officer) is narrated by Pechorin himself, A former amry colleague of his, and another narrator who inherits Pechorin's Journal. The "story" itself is made up of 5 short stories which don't really follow a specific chronological order and are set in various parts of (old) Southern Russia. Interestingly, Part 2 of the novel is set before part 1 and this has a unique result in that your feelings toward Pechorin at the end of part 1 are totaly different to your feelings towards him by the end of Part 2, and makes you want to re-read part 1 as it "contiunes the stroy" so to speak. Its a very good way to evoke strong feelings towards his character and to make you re-examine them by the end of the book - maybe this format is a "moral" / critique of Russian society of the time too? (the theme of "image" and "initial judgement" are a theme within the book itself)

Lermontov's geographical descrptions within this book, especially within the first part, are some of the best I have ever read and certainly convays the beauty of the region and the setting of the story. Its worth reading the book for these alone. This edition has also been very well translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater, and the text feels "natural" and flows very well in English. There are one or two slight "americanisms" in parts ("realization" is one that stands out for me)but overall he has done an excellent job in translating the novel, and providing explanitory notes, to explain certain french sentences / Russian customs that are short, informative and NOT too frequent (thankfully!).
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