“A Hero of Our Time” by Mikhail Lermontov

A Hero of our Time

A Hero of our Time

I struggle with Russian classics, maybe because I’m reading them in translation I miss out on the beautiful prose of the original. I wasn’t enamoured with Dostoevsky, neither Crime and Punishment nor The Idiot, I have yet to tackle Tolstoy and this Lermontov left me cold. Of the Russian Classics I’ve only enjoyed Gogol’s Dead Souls and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.

I had to force myself to read at first, then I forgot myself, carried away by the magical fiction.” (p135)

Pechorin’s experience of Sir Walter Scott’s “Old Morality” was sadly different to my experience of Lermontov’s tale of Pechorin. I had to force myself to get to the end, if it had been a longer book I’d have given up. The book puts together five related stories revolving around our “hero” Pechorin. I was interested because the action was set in the Caucasus. I found the “Byronic” Pechorin immature, the women are mysterious and illogical. Pechorin treats women as an incentive for endless conquests and does not consider them worthy of any particular respect. The mix of mountain horsemen, society women and smugglers seemed a little implausible as though St Petersburg society had been deposited in the Caucasus.

In the novel Pechorin has a duel with Grushinsky like the writer Lermontov and  Lermontov’s idol, Pushkin. Both writers were killed in duels.

John Braine advises would be novelists to wait until they reach 30 to have the maturity and experience to write, Lermontov was 24 when he started this book, he was just 26 when he met his death in a duel with his Cadet school friend Martyov. Maybe had he survived he would have written more mature literature.

My rating 2 out of 5

About jimholroyd365

Hi, my name is Jim, I am an Englishman living in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. I started this blog to share my interests, my photos and to make sense of my world. I take a lot of photographs of various subjects, some of which I intend to share here. I collect diecast cars and get the same thrill at 50 as I did when I was 8, when I find a car I'm searching for, Don't worry, I have a separate blog for this hobby. Please feel free to comment and ask questions on what I blog. I am quite new to this blogging, I was inspired by reading a book, which began as a blog of a London Ambulance Driver: "Blood, Sweat and Tea". I hope my blog will be entertaining and amusing, I did try stand up comedy in the UK and had seven gigs before I left to teach English in Georgia. I love reading and so the blog will include book reviews of books as I finish them.I don't know about which direction this blog will go, I am a great believer in serendipity...let the journey begin...
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4 Responses to “A Hero of Our Time” by Mikhail Lermontov

  1. myakicheff says:

    Hello there! I am afraid I haven’t read any Lermontov at all, so I’m not sure really what kind of a writer he is, but I have read Dostoyevsky and I have to say it didn’t thrill me. I have also wondered about the translation gap. However, if you are casting around for things to read and haven’t yet tried a Tolstoy, I heartily recommend War and Peace. Whenever I mention this to people I see their eyes roll, but really, please don’t be put off either by the size or by whatever preconceived ideas you have. The translation I read was by Anthony Briggs, I think it is the newest, and I was absolutely gripped from the beginning. And because of the size of the book, i found the characters had time to develop, and I had time to change the way I felt about them, something I don’t think I’ve had from any other novel I’ve ever read. This is a true epic in scope, and it went straight to the top of my ‘best books I’ve ever read’ list.

    But if you’re after something more modern, have you tried Solzhenitsyn? I recommend Cancer Ward. To my mind, the best of his that I’ve read. I could litter his comment with reasons why this is an astonishing read, but I’ll let you explore it for yourself …

    Perhaps if you read either of these you could let me know what you think? I’d be interested to know.

    Thank you for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read Solzhenitsyn…I prefered “First Circle” to “Cancer Ward”. I have been looking out for a copy of “War and Peace”, I’ve only read a collection of Tolstoy’s short stories.


      • myakicheff says:

        Ah, I haven’t read first circle, I’ve been on the lookout for a copy! Having raved about War and Peace, I have to say I haven’t yet finished Anna Karenina, I’m finding it a bit hard going, so maybe not all of his works are quite as gripping, or maybe I just spoiled myself by reading war and peace first… I will have to investigate the short stories.

        I hope you Enjoy War and Peace when you find it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • “One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” got me hooked on Solzhenitsyn. However, I have yet to read his most famous work “Gulag Archipelago”.
        “Anna Karenina” was on my list of books to read but now “War and Peace” seems more appealing.


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