A Hero of Our Time

Front Cover
Courier Corporation, Jun 7, 2012 - Fiction - 192 pages
"Of lasting appeal to readers of all countries and centuries."—Vladimir Nabokov
Russian literature's first major prose novel, this gripping work was a primary influence on Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and other great nineteenth-century writers. Mikhail Lermontov, "the poet of the Caucasus," drew upon his personal Byronic exploits to create these tales of treachery, abductions, and sexual intrigue. Published in 1840, one year before the author's death at age twenty-six in a duel, the novel retains its overwhelming power and fascination.
Centered on the escapades of Pechorin, a dashing young officer and the hero of the title, the book consists of a series of interconnected short stories. The picaresque adventures revolve around Pechorin's escapades and reflect his cynical but passionate worldview. Set amid the rugged Caucasian wilderness—an exotic land populated by bandits and smugglers, transplanted society women, and lawless freebooters—it offers a thrilling blend of brutality, elegance, and enduring romance.
 

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About the author (2012)

One of Russia's greatest nineteenth-century poets, Lermontov was at first an officer in an elite Guards regiment. Because of the views he expressed in a poem written on the death of Pushkin in 1837, he was arrested, tried, and transferred to the Caucasus. The poem, a passionate condemnation of the St. Petersburg elite for inciting Pushkin's ill-fated confrontation with D'Anthes, brought Lermontov instant fame. He returned to the capital a year later and began to publish regularly; two volumes of poems and the novel A Hero of Our Time appeared in 1840. Next year, as punishment for a duel, he was sent again to a line regiment in the Caucasus, where he distinguished himself in battle. In July 1841 he was killed in his last duel, the consequence of his own quarrelsome conduct. Lermontov was strongly influenced by Byron and Schiller, writing striking confessional poems that presented him in typically romantic defiance toward society. In his final years, he wrote more reflective and philosophical lyrics, as well as longer narrative poems, also derived from Byronic models. The most important of these is The Demon (1839), on which he worked for a number of years. The story of a fallen angel's love for a woman, it has provided Russian literature and art with a powerful archetype. Besides poetry, Lermontov also wrote plays and fiction, of which A Hero of Our Time is the most important. Made up of several tales by different narrators, the novel centers on Pechorin---a seminal example of the egotistical nineteenth-century "superfluous man," a specifically Russian derivative of the Byronic hero. Both this protagonist and Lermontov's complex narrative technique gave a powerful stimulus to Russian realist fiction.

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