Original title Герой нашего времени
Originally published 1840
Genre Psychological novel
Preceded by Princess Ligovskaya
Publication date 1840
Adaptations A Hero of Our Time (1985)
|Publisher Iliya Glazunov & Co (Russian: Типография Ильи Глазунова и Ко)|
Similar Works by Mikhail Lermontov, Psychological novel books, Classical Studies books
A hero of our time audiobook mikhail yurevich lermontov
A Hero of Our Time (Russian: Герой нашего времени, Geroy nashego vremeni) is a novel by Mikhail Lermontov, written in 1839, published in 1840, and revised in 1841.
- A hero of our time audiobook mikhail yurevich lermontov
- A hero of our time by mikhail y lermontov 1 28 book 1 chapter 1
- Plot structure
- Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin
- Stage adaptation
It is an example of the superfluous man novel, noted for its compelling Byronic hero (or antihero) Pechorin and for the beautiful descriptions of the Caucasus. There are several English translations, including one by Vladimir Nabokov and Dmitri Nabokov in 1958.
A hero of our time by mikhail y lermontov 1 28 book 1 chapter 1
The book is divided into five short stories or novellas, with an authorial preface added in the second edition. There are three major narrators. The first is a young, unnamed officer in the Russian army travelling through the Caucasus mountains. He is documenting his travels for publication later. Almost as soon as the story begins, he meets Captain Maxim Maximych, who is significantly older and has been stationed in the Caucasus for a long time. He is therefore wise to the lifestyle of Russian soldiers in this region, and immediately demonstrates this to the narrator through his interactions with the local Ossetian tribesman.
Maxim Maximych serves as the second narrator, relaying to his traveling companion stories of his interactions with Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, the main character of the story and the ultimate Byronic hero. Maxim Maximych was stationed in the Caucasus with Pechorin for some time, though when and for how long is not specified. Ultimately, Maxim Maximych gives Pechorin's diaries to the unnamed narrator. Pechorin seemingly abandoned them when he was discharged from his post, and the old Captain has been carrying them around since.
The third narrator is Pechorin himself. However, unlike the other two, he is not actually a character immediately in the story. Instead, he narrates through his diaries, which were published along with the unnamed narrator's travel notes after Pechorin's death. The diaries, however, seem to switch at least once from the past tense (as a diary would be written) to the present tense. Pechorin, the "hero of our time" is shown to be alternately impulsive and calculating through Maxim Maximych's stories. He is shown to be calculating, manipulative, emotionally unavailable and arrogant through his own recollections. However he is both sensitive and cynical as well as intelligent, a fact he is all too aware of.
In the longest novella, Princess Mary, Pechorin flirts with the Princess of the title, while conducting an affair with his ex-lover Vera, and kills his friend Grushnitsky (of whom he is secretly contemptuous) in a duel in which the participants stand in turn on the edge of a cliff so that the loser's death can be explained as an accidental fall. Eventually he rejects one woman only to be abandoned by the other.
The preface explains the author's idea of his character: "A Hero of Our Time, my dear readers, is indeed a portrait, but not of one man. It is a portrait built up of all our generation's vices in full bloom. You will again tell me that a human being cannot be so wicked, and I will reply that if you can believe in the existence of all the villains of tragedy and romance, why wouldn't believe that there was a Pechorin? If you could admire far more terrifying and repulsive types, why aren't you more merciful to this character, even if it is fictitious? Isn't it because there's more truth in it than you might wish?"
Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin
Pechorin is the embodiment of the Byronic hero. Byron’s works were of international repute and Lermontov mentions his name several times throughout the novel. According to the Byronic tradition, Pechorin is a character of contradiction. He is both sensitive and cynical. He is possessed of extreme arrogance, yet has a deep insight into his own character and epitomizes the melancholy of the romantic hero who broods on the futility of existence and the certainty of death. Pechorin’s whole philosophy concerning existence is oriented towards the nihilistic, creating in him somewhat of a distanced, alienated personality.* The name Pechorin is drawn from that of the Pechora River, in the far north, as a homage to Aleksandr Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, named after the Onega River.
Pechorin treats women as an incentive for endless conquests and does not consider them worthy of any particular respect. He considers women such as Princess Mary to be little more than pawns in his games of romantic conquest, which in effect hold no meaning in his listless pursuit of pleasure. This is shown in his comment on Princess Mary: “I often wonder why I’m trying so hard to win the love of a girl I have no desire to seduce and whom I’d never marry.”
The only contradiction in Pechorin’s attitude to women are his genuine feelings for Vera, who loves him despite, and perhaps due to, all his faults. At the end of “Princess Mary” one is presented with a moment of hope as Pechorin gallops after Vera. The reader almost assumes that a meaning to his existence may be attained and that Pechorin can finally realize that true feelings are possible. Yet a lifetime of superficiality and cynicism cannot be so easily eradicated and when fate intervenes and Pechorin’s horse collapses, he undertakes no further effort to reach his one hope of redemption: “I saw how futile and senseless it was to pursue lost happiness. What more did I want? To see her again? For what?”
Pechorin's chronologically last adventure, was first described in the book, showing the events that explain his upcoming fall into depression and retreat from society, resulting in his self-predicted death. The narrator is Maxim Maximytch telling the story of a beautiful Circassian princess 'Bela', whom Azamat abducts for Pechorin in exchange for Kazbich's horse. Maxim describes Pechorin's exemplary persistence to convince Bela to give herself sexually to him, in which she with time reciprocates. After living with Bela for some time, Pechorin starts explicating his need for freedom, which Bela starts noticing, fearing he might leave her. Though Bela is completely devoted to Pechorin, she says she's not his slave, rather a daughter of a Circassian tribal Chieftain, also showing the intention of leaving if he 'doesn't love her'. Maxim's sympathy for Bela makes him question Pechorin's intentions. Pechorin admits he loves her and is ready to die for her, but 'he has a restless fancy and insatiable heart, and that his life is emptier day by day'. He thinks his only remedy is to travel, to keep his spirit alive.
However Pechorin's behavior soon changes after Bela gets kidnapped by his enemy Kazbich, and becomes mortally wounded. After 2 days of suffering in delirium Bela spoke of her inner fears and her feelings for Pechorin, who listened without once leaving her side. After her death, Pechorin becomes physically ill, loses weight and becomes unsociable. After meeting with Maxim again, he acts coldly and antisocial, explicating deep depression and disinterest in interaction. He soon dies on his way back from Persia, admitting before that he is sure to never return.
Pechorin described his own personality as self-destructive, admitting he himself doesn't understand his purpose in the world of men. His boredom with life, feeling of emptiness, forces him to indulge in all possible pleasures and experiences, which soon, cause the downfall of those closest to him. He starts to realize this with Vera and Grushnitsky, while the tragedy with Bela soon leads to his complete emotional collapse.
His crushed spirit after this and after the duel with Grushnitsky can be interpreted that he is not the detached character that he makes himself out to be. Rather, it shows that he suffers from his actions. Yet many of his actions are described both by himself and appear to the reader to be arbitrary. Yet this is strange as Pechorin's intelligence is very high (typical of a Byronic hero). Pechorin's explanation as to why his actions are arbitrary can be found in the last chapter where he speculates about fate. He sees his arbitrary behaviour not as being a subconscious reflex to past moments in his life but rather as fate. Pechorin grows dissatisfied with his life as each of his arbitrary actions lead him through more emotional suffering which he represses from the view of others.
In 2011 Alex Mcsweeney adapted the novel into an English-language playscript. Previewed at the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, UK in July, it subsequently premiered in August of the same year at Zoo Venues in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Critics received it positively, generally giving 4- and 5-star reviews.
On July 22, 2015, The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow premiered a ballet adaptation of "Hero of Our Time". The ballet was choreographed by San Francisco Ballet's Choreographer in Residence, Yuri Possokhov, and directed by Kirill Serebrennikov - who is also the author of the libretto. The score was commissioned purposefully for this production and composed by Ilya Demutsky. This production focuses on three novellas from Lermontov's novel - Bela, Taman, and Princess Mary.