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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: 13.1 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Room for a View VINE VOICE on 18 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By technoguy VINE VOICE on 13 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Written in 1838-40, Pechorin, the 'Hero of our time' then still has some significance now. The man libertine who sees others as his toys, never has to feel regret or remorse for his actions as he is what he is, the lion on the plains hunting as he sees fit, vain, glorious and destructive. Mikhail Lermontov has a deft and poetic touch to his writing which captures his protagonist well. But it is the descriptions of Georgia, middle Russia which are the delight to read of this novel. And the heart warming Maxim Maximych, the beautiful and betrayed Bela.The narrator with a potent mix of Boys Own adventure and keen eye for the human condition. I picked this out of the BG library shelves as part of my re-reading the classics before entering dotage. I note I last read this in 1975 but have limited memory of having done so. More is the pity as it is a gem of a novel! Oh well, back to Dickens...
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