32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What heroism is really all about?
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...
Published on 14 July 2004 by Depressaholic
7 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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 would like to alert anyone carrying out the same exercise to this error and seek feedback as to which way to go.
Published on 12 Jan 2012 by jd
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What heroism is really all about?,
This review is from: A Hero of Our Time (World's Classics) (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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Byronic tales from wild Russia,
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.The book set in the Caucasus, a landscape of breath-taking beauty and wild nature, torrents, mountains, ravines, exotic tribes,sea coasts,seem to reflect for him an ideal purity and beauty lacking in human society:'The air is pure,as the kiss of a child,the sun is bright,the sky is blue-what more does one want?What need have we here of passions,desires,regrets?'There are changes of location for each tale and each centres on one main character affected by Pechorin,narrated by himself or by others.He often feels he's the'axe in the hands of fate',but he also claims to act of his own free will.There is a swiftness and economy in the prose,action- packed adventures with no longeurs,a multi-prespectival narrative and the exoticism of the Caucasus to marvel at.He inspired Tolstoy,Turgenev,Chekov and Dostoevsky.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian Roulette,
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.'
24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life, death and male introspection in 19thC Dagestan,
By A Customer
This review is from: A Hero of Our Time (Classics) (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.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hero of OUR Time,
I first read this book as a 'set text' at Uni but have reread it many times since. It struck me when I first read it that this book reflects a great deal of the apathy and frustration that are the trademarks of the so-called 'Generation X' - the phrase coined by the media to refer to 20-somethings in the late 1990's (my generation). The book was written at the end of the 19th century and Pechorin's feelings and emotions reflected very well the misunderstood angst of Generation X as we approached the end of the 20th century (or perhaps more likely, it reflects a feeling common to many generations of young people?)
The 'Hero' is such an antihero that the title can be perceived as an ironic jibe at the protagonist and those who would consider him 'heroic' but also as a condemnation of an era that can only produce such a man as a 'hero'. Whilst we as readers are to some extent supposed to disapprove of Pechorin's ammorality, I found myself as a disenchanted twenty-something, sympathising with our Hero's dark point of view, enjoying Lermontov's black humour and ruing the fact that Lermontov died too young to amass a great body of work.
Go read it and form your own opinion!
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is more like it,
This review is from: A Hero of Our Time (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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 everything a good novel needs. I have read several modern books lately, and they just can't be compared to classic Russian literature, which is the definite apex in literature. This book by Lermontov had a huge influence on many writers, not the least of whom were his own countrymen, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre, or wants to get to know the genre. The foreword and introduction are both well-written and informative, but they should be read after the book itself, as always, in my opinion. This is a great book by a great writer.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 of a bored rich young man in a society that allowed no self-expression that displeased the authorities. "My whole life has been nothing but a series of dismal, unsuccessful attempts to go against heart or reason," Pechorin says.
Pechorin is restless and bored and in a bid to dispel the inevitable listlessness he gambles, seduces women, gets involved in duels and disparages friends. "I have an insatiable craving inside me that consumes everything and makes me regard the sufferings and joys of others only as food to sustain my powers". Why is Pechorin this way? He says this about his youth "I was ready to love the world but no one understood me so I learned to hate". He became "a moral cripple". The fact that Pechorin is not the standard definition hero should not stop you from enjoying this incredibly well written journal.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Hero Of Our Time (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
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.
The book is not simply a translation of Lermontov's "A hero of our time" But also includes a biography of Lermontov with corresponding time like to historical events and notable poets and writers of the time, a large and detailed introduction to the novel and also well written comprehensive notes to the text which included geographical place names, explanations of words both Russian and Turkish that are used throughout and some commentary on the text.
Not being a native speaker of Russian I am in no position to comment on the quality of the translation but in the introduction to the text the translator comments on some of the poor translations that have come before him and also that some translators have either only partially translated the text or have elaborated on the text believing that by doing so it would become more readable to the English speaking audience. Our translator however, seems to be of the opinion that he is faithful to the original Russian.
The novel itself consists of 5 stories centred around the north Caucuses where Russian troops were stationed while fighting the mountain Circassian and Chechen people in the 19th Century. The novel revolves around a young officer who on arriving meets up with a senior officer who having spent several years in the Caucuses has a fair few stories to tell and begins to narrate one of a young man who fell in love with a young Circassian girl and its tragic end. It seems clear that the senior man has a great deal of admiration for the junior officer and on meeting him again is disappointed at being given the cold shoulder. The younger officer does however, leave behind a collection of his journals that make up the last 3 stories of the novel.
Is is a wonderful short novel evoking the likes of Tolstoy and Pushkin in its tragedy. The main character is something of a reflection of Lermontov himself.
5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb story,
a hero of our time is one of the memorable stories I have ever read and it still haunts me with its beauty. In a Quixotic Lermontov effortlessly takes the reader through the beauty of the Caucasian mountains wrapped up with the richness of Pechorin's experiences who is a young officer, an idealist turned cynic. It has been close to a decade since I last read this book, yet it continues to top the list of my favourite books.In a way everybody can relate to this book.UNION MOUJIK, DON QUIXOTE, WAR AND PEACE also feature among the top titles in my list.
6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my favourite book,
By A Customer
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 develope the characters. Add to this each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, gradually approaching the hero, Pechorin. You can see that this 'cleverness' could easily become awkward or confusing. But it never does. I have known a few Russian girls, and they often agree that this book is a favourite.
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A Hero of Our Time (Penguin Classics) by Mikhail Lermontov (Paperback - 27 Aug 2009)