One of the most interesting, eye-opening books I've read. I’m familiar with Russian literature, I know Russian, but the more I read, the more I'm falling in love with them.
It's one of those Russian classics that's always on those lists. A Hero of Our Time has an interesting format. It's split into sections but these sections are all very different and sometimes don't even involve our "hero" Pechorin.
The story is set in the Caucasus Mountains and is full of detail about the terrain, the local people and the lives of the Russian nobility who travelled to the spas in that area. Lermontov tends to mock those society travellers although I could not help thinking that they would also be a large part of his intended audience.
Pechorin’s story is told in three parts. First through the eyes of a former comrade, second the eyes of a fascinated onlooker who by chance inherits his journals, and lastly through his own words.
It is only by looking at the three vignettes as pieces to a whole that the reader gets a feel for Pechorin’s motivations, who he is as a person and how he comes off as a character to others. In fact, without those first two sections, his story wouldn’t have as much meaning or significance, in my eyes.
I haven't really touched on what happens in the novel - but what was important for me was the character of Pechorin. His exploits, adventures and charades in the army, in society, the Caucasus, they are mere extensions of who he is as a person. He has flaws, he can be ruthless, he can be tragic but I am a fan of the Byronic Hero.
I was also fond of the last chapter, The Fatalist due to the more philosophical nature of discussion. This reminded me a lot of The death of ivan ilyich, with its emphasis on how the old view the world differently: forever bleak. The death of ivan ilyich.
I must go on and read Lermontov's poems in the near future, and I can recommend A Hero of Our Time to those who are already acquainted with Russian literature.