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Un héroe de nuestro tiempo

Un héroe de nuestro tiempo

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Un héroe de nuestro tiempo

valoraciones:
4/5 (7 valoraciones)
Longitud:
230 páginas
5 horas
Publicado:
18 dic 2014
ISBN:
9786070306358
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Muchos dicen que esta novela es el retrato del autor y de sus conocidos. Pero, al parecer, tal es la condición de Rusia: todo en ella se renueva, salvo este género de absurdos. Hasta el más maravilloso de los cuentos maravillosos escapa a duras penas al reproche de veleidad de ofensa personal. Un héroe de nuestro tiempo, es en efecto, un retrato, pero, no el de una sola persona: es el retrato compuesto de los defectos de toda nuestra generación en todo su desarrollo.
Publicado:
18 dic 2014
ISBN:
9786070306358
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor


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Vista previa del libro

Un héroe de nuestro tiempo - Mijaíl Lérmontov

escuchar con los ojos

Desde la torre

Retirado en la paz de estos desiertos,

con pocos pero doctos libros juntos,

vivo en conversación con los difuntos

y escucho con mis ojos a los muertos.

Si no siempre entendidos, siempre abiertos

o enmiendan, o fecundan mis asuntos;

y en músicos callados contrapuntos

al sueño de la vida hablan despiertos.

Las grandes almas que la muerte ausenta,

de injurias en los años, vengadora,

libra, ¡oh gran don losef!, docta la imprenta.

En fuga irrevocable huye la hora;

pero aquélla el mejor cálculo cuenta

que en la lección y estudios nos mejora.

Francisco de Quevedo

mijaíl

lérmontov

un héroe

de nuestro tiempo


siglo xxi editores, s.a. de c.v.

CERRO DEL AGUA 248, ROMERO DE TERREROS, 04310, MÉXICO, D.F.


siglo xxi editores, s.a.

TUCUMÁN 1621, 7° N, C1050AAG, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA


siglo xxi de españa editores, s.a.

MENÉNDEZ PIDAL 3 BIS, 28036, MADRID, ESPAÑA


PG3337.L4G4

E7

2007     Lérmontov, Mijaíl.

Un héroe de nuestro tiempo / por Mijaíl Lérmontov ; traducción y notas de Isabel Vicente. — México : Siglo XXI, 2007.

xii, 203 p. — (Escuchar con los ojos)

Traducción de: Geroe nasbego bremeni

eISBN: 978-607-03-0635-8

     I. Vicente, Isabel, tr. II. t. III. Ser.

traducción y notas de isabel vicente

portada: maría luisa martínez passarge

© 2007 siglo xxi editores, s.a. de c.v.

primera reimpresión, 2009

primera edición digital 2014

© siglo xxi editores, s. a. de c.v.

eISBN: 978-607-03-0635-8

primera edición en ruso, 1840

derechos reservados conforme a la ley

Prólogo

La simbiosis vida-literatura se evidencia de manera palpable en nuestro personaje principal Mijaíl Lérmontov, ese joven revolucionario perteneciente a la nobleza, dibujante, pintor y creador de una impresionante producción en verso y prosa. Es más, me aventuro a decir que la literatura rebasa a la realidad cuando el notable y mítico escritor ruso Mijaíl Lérmontov se convierte en una víctima del destino o de la agudeza de sus enemigos, al morir tempranamente y de manera trágica: a los veintisiete años remite a la realidad su propio imaginario cuando muere en un duelo. Irónicamente, para algunos lectores, el creador quizá pueda resultar más ingenuo que su propio personaje de Un héroe de nuestro tiempo. Lérmontov, camino del cuartel, en el Daguestán, decide a cara o cruz encaminarse hacia Piatigork, en 1841; ahí se encontrará con Nikolai Martinov, su viejo compañero de escuela en Moscú. Algunos historiadores creían, y así lo asientan, que el escritor fue provocado y engañado por sus enemigos, quienes lo convirtieron en víctima de un asesinato premeditado; otros estudiosos, en cambio, lo consideraron un temerario que provocó su propia muerte al caricaturizar y hacer escarnio público de la figura de Nikolai Martinov.

Al lector contemporáneo puede resultarle sumamente ajena la atmósfera compartida por el escritor y algunos de sus personajes en los seis relatos que conforman la novela Un héroe de nuestro tiempo (1839), determinada por duelos de honor, descripciones del Cáucaso, títulos nobiliarios, estaciones de posta, viajes en carruajes, trueques de animales por mujeres, pasiones por los caballos, éxtasis ante el paisaje, curas de aguas termales y la fatalidad el destino. En la lectura podemos percibir su cercanía con el presente, a través de dos elementos sustanciales: la construcción de un protagonista fatuo y una fuerte crítica hacia la masificación de la lectura. A ambos alude el mismo autor en el prólogo a la segunda edición, de 1841. La adición de estas líneas es fundamental, pues amplía enormemente la perspectiva de la novela y sobre todo muestra la visión de Lérmontov respecto del mundo literario de la época y la recepción crítica de su propio texto:

Dispensen, pero demasiado tiempo se ha alimentado a la gente con dulces. Por eso se les ha echado a perder el estómago: ahora necesitan medicamentos amargos, verdades cáusticas. Sin embargo, no piensen por ello que el autor del presente libro ha acariciado nunca el ambicioso sueño de enmendar los vicios humanos. ¡Dios le libre de semejante engreimiento! Simplemente, le ha resultado divertido pintar al hombre contemporáneo tal y como él lo entiende y tal y como, para desdicha suya y también de ustedes, lo ha encontrado con excesiva frecuencia. Baste con que la dolencia quede señalada. En cuanto al modo de curarla, eso… Dios lo sabrá.

Intensidad, cinismo, indolencia, apatía, sensualidad e indiferencia son algunos de los rasgos que delinean las facciones y definen la personalidad de Grigori Alexándrovich Pechorin, el súper hombre protagonista de esta novela. Su sagacidad para reaccionar ante el entorno y salir bien librado de todas las situaciones contrasta con su incapacidad para conciliar las fracturas y la vacuidad del espíritu. El contraste extremo entre Maxim y Pechorin, la calidad humana frente al egocentrismo, potencia los perfiles de los personajes; un corazón simple adquiere superioridad sobre el esplendor de su opositor. Marc Slonim considera que Pechorin es el precursor de los rebeldes de Dostoievski, desde Raskolnikov hasta Iván Karamazov.

Hay una clara alusión al hombre superfluo, el hijo del siglo, predominante en los ambientes literarios de época y en los escritos contemporáneos. Ese sujeto que va en pos de la aventura, de la conquista de mujeres comprometidas, de las batallas, del conocimiento y de los viajes, pero vive permanentemente en el hastío y el desencanto, pues todo lo sacia y todo lo aburre. Por ello es factible actualizarlo si nos detenemos a observar en nuestro alrededor cuántos héroes de nuestro tiempo conocemos.

Existe una preocupación genérica del autor que se hace explícita, entre otros elementos, por la singular estructura de la novela: se conforma a partir de una suma de relatos. Las diferentes perspectivas de los narradores y narradores-personajes, aunadas a los juicios de los mismos sobre algunos acontecimientos y conductas, ofrecen una pluralidad discursiva que enriquece la lectura. La perspicacia y las observaciones de los personajes, sumadas a las casualidades, como el escuchar información crucial, resuelven el desarrollo de la trama. Con esos recursos, además de ahorrar narración, se construye lo verosímil. La oralidad y la lectura motivan y desencadenan acontecimientos, muestran la subjetividad de las voces sobre los hechos y subrayan además el gusto por narrar y escuchar. Así, la conciencia del narrar y de la importancia del describir crea el suspenso y la tensión dramática. Se expresa una justificación discursiva sobre la existencia de los diarios de Pechorin para explicar la estructura en relatos en apariencia inconexos. La muerte del protagonista permite la publicación de esas confesiones. Al descubrirlos con el autorretrato del antihéroe se destaca el carácter irónico del título.

Integran la primera parte Bela, Maxim Maxímich, El diario de Pechorin, una pequeña Introducción y Tamán; y la segunda, Kniazhná Mary, en forma de diario, y El fatalista. Tamán forma parte del diario de Pechorin; él mismo aparece como personaje, pero más allá de coadyuvar en su caracterización hasta cierto punto podría parecer prescindible en la construcción del hombre de nuestro tiempo. En cuanto a El fatalista, es un excelente y logradísimo relato en torno al destino, relatado por Pechorin, que de alguna manera se vincula con el sino de varios personajes e incluso con el del propio autor. Podría leerse aisladamente, como lo hicieron algunos de sus primeros lectores, sin disminuir su gran valor estético.

Existen justificaciones explícitas del primer narrador para sus detalladas descripciones del paisaje, como un segundo discurso, de las cuales el clima es un elemento fundamental, argumentando que se trata de apuntes de viajes. El lector será transportado a una época y lugares remotos gracias a las exquisitas atmósferas creadas por Lérmontov. Los relatos que componen la novela, especialmente El diario de Pechorin, terminan por convertirse en una pintura del Cáucaso, de sus paisajes, sus habitantes y las costumbres que imperaban en la Rusia de principios del siglo XIX.

Los lazos entre Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) y Mijaíl Lérmontov (1814-1841) son innegables. Ambos, con distintas tonalidades, fueron sumamente provocadores con sus escritos y sufrieron el exilio como consecuencia de ello; leyeron a Byron, al igual que algunos de sus personajes, y tuvieron una época signada por sus influencias. En un periodo floreciente para la poesía, con grandes contrastes estéticos, que marcan abismales diferencias, son vistos como los dos poetas mayores de su tiempo. Los dos murieron en forma romántica y absurda, asesinados en un duelo, al parecer planeado por intereses diversos a los aparentes.

El protagonista de la novela en verso Eugenio Onieguin (1831), de Pushkin, y Pechorin comparten algunas características: son hombres superfluos, viajeros, lectores de Byron —como sus autores—, enamorados de lo prohibido y de las parejas de otros, provocadores de duelos, asesinos por honor, y con frecuencia se sienten invadidos por el hastío. Los dos textos muestran una especial preocupación por el crítico, y recrean la vida rusa, pese a que Pushkin es considerado el creador de la prosa realista y Lérmontov se inclina por el profundo análisis psicológico de sus personajes.

Es pertinente notar la fortuna de Lérmontov al contar con lectores privilegiados de su época, que nos permiten conocer una recepción sumamente positiva, plena de opiniones favorables y elogiosas. Isabel Vicente, en el profundo estudio que precede a la edición de Cátedra, cita algunos de esos testimonios; otras voces sustanciales proceden de diversas fuentes, aunque también resaltan la gran valía de la obra de Lérmontov. Para Chéjov, Tamán es la obra maestra de la literatura rusa, el modelo de arte de la escritura del cuento. No logro comprender cómo pudo escribir una cosa así siendo un chiquillo todavía… No conozco un lenguaje mejor que el de Lérmontov. Turgueniev creía que Lérmontov en cierta medida se representó en los rasgos de Pechorin. Gógol afirmó: Nadie ha escrito nunca un ruso tan conciso, bello y fragante; le auguró un gran futuro: Le esperaba una envidiable carrera. Merezhkovski lo llamó la luminaria nocturna de la literatura rusa. Para Máximo Gorki, en los versos de Lérmontov empiezan a resonar con fuerza notas apenas perceptibles en Pushkin: el ávido deseo de acción, de participar con energía en la vida.

La gran distancia cronológica con Lérmontov permite infinidad de imprecisiones en datos esenciales de su vida y de su obra: desde fechas de escritura y publicación hasta detalles sustanciales de su vida. En lo que hay una gran exactitud y unánime perspectiva entre académicos y lectores es respecto a la innegable calidad de su obra; también comparten un profundo asombro ante ese héroe de nuestro tiempo que resulta ser Lérmontov con su incursión en géneros y expresiones artísticas tan diversas. Fueron muy pocos años para tanta, tan variada y tan singular producción, de la cual una ejemplar muestra es Un héroe de nuestro tiempo. Bocetos, dibujo, pintura, poesía, drama, prosa, son una confirmación de la gran intensidad vital y creativa que pudo alcanzar en tan sólo veintisiete años el gran Lérmontov.

TERESA GARCÍA DÍAZ

UN HÉROE DE NUESTRO TIEMPO

Prólogo

El prólogo es para todo libro, el elemento primero y, al mismo tiempo, el último; sirve para explicar la finalidad de la obra y también de justificación y de respuesta a las críticas. Pero, habitualmente, a los lectores no les importa la finalidad moral ni los ataques de las revistas, razón por la cual no leen los prólogos. Es una lástima, pero así ocurre, sobre todo en nuestro país. Nuestro público aún es tan joven e ingenuo que no comprende una fábula si al final no encuentra la moraleja. No capta las bromas, no percibe la ironía. Sencillamente no posee la debida educación. No sabe todavía que el insulto a secas no puede emplearse en una sociedad decente ni en un libro decente; que la educación contemporánea ha inventado un arma más afilada, casi invisible y sin embargo mortífera, que bajo el manto de la adulación asesta un golpe contundente y certero. Nuestro público se asemeja al provinciano que, después de escuchar una conversación entre dos diplomáticos pertenecientes a cortes hostiles, queda persuadido de que cada uno de ellos engaña a su gobierno en aras de una estrechísima y correspondida amistad.

Este libro ha padecido, hace bien poco tiempo, las consecuencias de la lamentable credulidad que inspira a ciertos lectores, e incluso revistas, el sentido literal de las palabras. Algunos se han ofendido, y muy en serio, de que se les ponga como ejemplo a un hombre tan inmoral como el Héroe de Nuestro Tiempo. Otros han llegado a la conclusión, con gran sutileza, de que el autor ha pintado su retrato y el retrato de sus conocidos… ¡Vieja y lamentable broma! Pero, al parecer, tal es la condición de Rusia: todo en ella se renueva, salvo este género de absurdos. Hasta el más maravilloso de los cuentos maravillosos escapa a duras penas al reproche de veleidad de ofensa personal.

Un héroe de nuestro tiempo, señores míos, es en efecto un retrato; pero, no el de una sola persona: es el retrato compuesto de los defectos de toda nuestra generación en todo su desarrollo. Me dirán de nuevo que una persona no puede ser tan malvada, y yo les diré que si han admitido la posibilidad de la existencia de tantos malvados trágicos y románticos, ¿por qué no admiten la existencia de Pechorin? Si han admitido ustedes invenciones mucho más horribles y monstruosas, ¿por qué no halla clemencia en ustedes este carácter ni siquiera como invención? ¿No será porque hay en él más verdad de la que ustedes desearían?

Podrán objetarme que la moralidad no sale ganando nada con eso. Dispensen, pero demasiado tiempo se ha alimentado la gente con dulces. Por eso se les ha echado a perder el estómago: ahora necesitan medicamentos amargos, verdades cáusticas. Sin embargo, no piensen por ello que el autor del presente libro ha acariciado nunca el ambicioso sueño de enmendar los vicios humanos. ¡Dios le libre de semejante engreimiento! Simplemente, le ha resultado divertido pintar al hombre contemporáneo tal y como él lo entiende y tal y como, para desdicha suya y también de ustedes, lo ha encontrado con excesiva frecuencia. Baste con que la dolencia quede señalada. En cuanto al modo de curarla, eso… Dios lo sabrá.

PRIMERA PARTE

I

BELA*

Viajaba yo en coche de postas desde Tiflis y todo mi equipaje constaba de una maleta, no muy voluminosa, la mitad de cuyo contenido eran mis notas acerca de Georgia. Gran parte de ellas se ha perdido, por suerte para ustedes; pero la maleta y el resto de las pertenencias se salvó, por suerte para mí.

El sol comenzaba a ocultarse detrás de la cordillera nevada cuando entraba yo en el valle de Koishaur. El cochero, un osetino, arreaba a los caballos incesantemente para llegar al monte Koishaur antes de la noche y cantaba a voz en grito. ¡Qué hermoso lugar es ese valle! En torno no hay más que montañas inexpugnables, riscos rojizos, castaños revestidos de hiedra verde y coronados por grandes copas, y precipicios amarillos taraceados de torrenteras, entre la cenefa dorada de las nieves, allá en lo alto, y, abajo, el Aragva que acaba de abrazar a un riachuelo anónimo cuando escapa estrepitosamente de un negro desfiladero lleno de tinieblas, corre como hilo de plata y refulge lo mismo que las escamas de una serpiente.

Al llegar al pie del monte Koishaur nos detuvimos delante de una fonda. Una veintena de georgianos y montañeses formaba una ruidosa reunión; cerca de allí, una caravana de camellos había hecho alto para la noche. Yo debía alquilar unos bueyes que subieran mi carricoche a aquella maldita montaña porque era ya otoño, el camino estaba recubierto de hielo y la cuesta mide unas dos verstas¹ de largo.

Conque alquilé seis bueyes y apalabré a unos cuantos osetinos. Uno de ellos se echó mi maleta al hombro y los otros se pusieron a ayudar a los bueyes, en realidad solamente con sus gritos.

Detrás de mi coche, dos yuntas de bueyes tiraban de otro como si tal cosa, pese a ir cargado hasta arriba. Esta circunstancia me sorprendió. En pos del coche iba su amo, fumando una pipa kabardina, corta y taraceada de plata. Vestía levita de oficial sin charreteras y se tocaba con un peludo gorro cherkés. Aparentaba unos cincuenta años. Su tez bronceada decía que llevaba tiempo familiarizado con el sol de Caucasia² y su bigote, prematuramente encanecido, no hermanaba con su paso firme y su porte marcial. Me acerqué a él y me incliné saludándole. Él correspondió sin palabras y soltó una tremenda bocanada de humo.

—Si no me equivoco, seguimos el mismo camino. Volvió a inclinarse en silencio.

—Irá usted a Stávropol,³ ¿verdad?

—Exactamente… con un cargamento oficial.

—Y dígame, por favor, ¿cómo es que cuatro bueyes tiran de su pesado coche como si tal cosa mientras que el mío, aunque va vacío, apenas pueden moverlo entre seis, ayudados por estos osetinos?

Él sonrió con picardía y me miró significativamente.

—Usted lleva probablemente poco tiempo en Caucasia.

—Cosa de un año —contesté. Sonrió nuevamente.

—¿Por qué?

—Sí, señor… Estos asiáticos son de lo más astutos. ¿Usted cree que azuzan a los bueyes con sus gritos? ¿Y cómo demonios sabe lo que gritan? En cambio, los bueyes sí los entienden. Si quiere, puede usted mandar que enganchen diez

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  • (3/5)
    A Hero of Our Time is a novel in a superficial sense. By that I mean it cannot be seen alongside later Russian epics by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy. It is a series of sketches, foreshadowing both the psychological insights of Dostoyevsky and the fragmentary episodes found in Tolstoy's short stories. Therefore, I am left in a dilemma. On the one hand, how can I criticize a progenitor of the classic Russian novel? On the other, any honest reviewer will remark that Lermontov's effort is deficient relative to those of his followers. Indeed, if an alien were told that A Hero of Our Time was written at the same time as The Idiot or Anna Karenina, he would wonder why we even bother with Lermontov. In the same vein, I read for pleasure and cannot wax lyrical now about what in 1840 ought to have been considered a masterpiece.Lermontov's descriptions of the Caucasus landscape are a bore. This novel is all about the protagonist, military officer Pechorin, and the highlights are found in his diaries. Pechorin is flawed. He teases, humiliates, insults, lies. He places no value on friendship, has no respect for women, love is but a whim. Some reviewers say that he is not so harshly painted. I disagree. I cannot see an iota of compassion in him. I almost wish Pechorin was the loser in his pitiful duel. In my favourite passages Pechorin describes passionately his upbringing and history. Just for a moment I feel sorry for him, but then he ruins another life and his transgressions once more put his ego to the fore.One cannot, try all he might, escape the unique context of this novel: the tsar's criticism of A Hero of Our Time, the death of Lermontov himself in a duel, the birth of a new genre of Russian writing. All studiers of the Russian novel, but not necessarily all admirers, should read this work.
  • (4/5)
    From the Preface: "The Hero of our Time is certainly a portrait, but not of a single person. It is a portrait of the vices of our whole generation in their ultimate development... people have been fed on sweets too long and it has ruined their digestion. Bitter medicines and harsh truths are needed now".Pechorin is perceptive, intelligent and educated, experienced and able. Qualities all, but they illuminate imperfections rather than a way to happiness, and doom him. Still a young man, he has become bored and cynical. His talent for understanding people, especially women, exposes their weaknesses all too clearly, tempting him to scorn and manipulate rather than love. Pechorin's talents make his restless and, finding no other outlet, drive him to exploit whatever he can find. He uses others for diversion, stoking up the extremes of emotion he cannot feel, then leaving them in his wake. Watching the ravages of his influence work upon Princess Mary, he admits: "There are times when I can understand the Vampire."All his experience and incisiveness distance Pechorin from life rather than enjoin him with it. "The turmoil of life has left me with a few ideas, but no feelings," he tells Dr Werner, a likeminded soul. Intellect reigns, though he still experiences surges of emotion, not least guilt, for he is not spared from his own awareness, and the beauty of the Caucasus sometimes moves him profoundly. Herein lies the real paradox of Lermontov's hero: his effortless grasp and control of the world around him detach him from it until he is like an observer of his own life, seemingly powerless to prevent the destruction he wreaks. He wonders when people despise him, he laments his own cruelty and is saddened by what he sees as his fate. Pechorin: "'I've got an unfortunate character. I don't know how I came by it, whether it was the way I was brought up or whether it's just the way I'm made. All I know is that if I make other people unhappy, I'm no less unhappy myself.'" He goes on to describe trying various outlets of life - society, women, learning - and growing tired of them all. "'My soul's been corrupted by society. My imagination knows no peace, my heart no satisfaction. I'm never satisfied. I grow used to sorrow as easily as I do to pleasure, and my life gets emptier every day.""we practically always excuse things when we understand them." [Narrator in introduction to Pechorin's journal]True love only exists when we can yearn for something that is unattainable - this, Pechorin reflects as his pursuit of Princess Mary intensifies, is human nature. As soon as we reach our goals, possess the things we have desired, they lose their interest or, worse, become burdensome. "Passions are merely ideas in their initial stage. They are the property of youth, and anyone who expects to feel their thrill throughout his life is a fool. Tranquil rivers often begin as roaring waterfalls, but no river leaps and foams all the way to the sea. Tranquility, however, is often a sign of great, if hidden, power. Intensity and depth of feeling and thought preclude wild outbursts of passion; in sorrow and joy the soul takes careful stock of every situation, and sees that so it must be." Dense passage: I think Lermontov (or Pechorin) is likening the process of aging to the division between emotion and the intellect; intensity gives way to greater understanding, therefore acceptance. There is a cynical undercurrent to all this - life loses its sheen somewhat, possibility becomes restricted, and your observation of that detaches you to some extent. On the other hand, experience can yield the more profound, subtle rewards of peace and power.On the eve of the climactic duel with Grushnitsky, Pechorin takes stock. This is a crucial moment, for I feel that, as with that described above, there is certainly pronounced bleakness, but Lermontov's underlying implication is of an alternative. "There must have been some purpose, I must have had some high object in life, for I feel unbounded strength within me. But I never discovered it and was carried away by the allurements of empty, unrewarding passions. I was tempered in their flames and came out cold and hard as steel, but I'd lost for ever the fire of noble endeavour, that finest flower of life... My love has brought no one happiness, for I've never sacrificed a thing for those I've loved. I've loved for myself, for my own pleasure, I've only tried to satisfy a strange inner need." So we have it; Pechorin was perhaps not doomed at all. His strength and potential got tangled up in fashions (not least that for disenchantment and boredom among the young of Moscow, discussed earlier by Maxim Maximych and the narrator), worldly pleasures and selfishness. It is that sense of missed opportunity that blights Pechorin's philosophy so severely - he ignored the doors to alternatives bigger and more satisfying than himself. It could be an overstatement, but I think Pechorin passed up the chance to belong to the world and the best it has to offer in favour of seeking to annex the best of the world to himself, and thereby sealed his fate.The political and social climate of Russia in Lermontov's time loom large in the background. The Caucasus was a frontier of the Russian empire in the 1830s. The expansionists met resistance, which would explain the prominence of soldiers among the cast of characters and the depiction of Ossetes and Circassians as bestial, vicious and dishonest. Following the failed 1825 Decembrist insurrection, and the repressive reaction of Nicholas I's regime, hope of change gave way an understandable feeling of bitter futility in those loth to relinquish it. Pechorin is a tragic hero, or 'The Hero of our Time' subject to the tragedy of the time, not a villain.
  • (5/5)
    As I picked up the unobtrusive little paperback bearing a picture of a young gentleman with an expressive face on the cover, I had one thought in mind: I hope the translation is adequate, if not great. Having read it in the original many years ago I wanted to refresh my memory, albeit in translation. And for the most part I was not disappointed. Translated by J.H. Wisdom and Marr Murray, it well reflected not only Lermontov's style, but also the language of the time.And here he was - Lermontov's hero, the "hero" of his time (in Russian, the word "hero" sometimes acquires a subtle nuance, having a closer meaning to "character", "protagonist"), Pechorin, with his innumerable contradictions, disillusionments, and passions. Lermontov presents us with two distinct sides of Pechorin: one - when described by the story teller, and the other - emerging later on from his own diary. The diary is especially effective, as it deals not only with actual events but reveals Pechorin's inner struggle, as well as his unconventional convictions and philosophies, and last but not least - his merciless criticism of himself.In Russian literature, Lermontov tends to be placed in the shadow of Pushkin, but that is as far as poetry. With his only novel, his talent certainly shines.
  • (3/5)
    The entire oeuvre of Camus in one slim volume, but for the more hopeful aspects of The Plague.
  • (4/5)
    Another book that was recommended to me by a friend, probably because she was concerned for my wellbeing. First there was 'Into the Wild,' the nonfiction book concerning Christopher McCandless's disappearance and subsequent death in the wilds of Alaska - the message: don't do the same!Now, this fine Russian novel, itself practically autobiographical, about a lost nihilist, a man who felt the decadence of his age and was repulsed by it, though who became a decadent himself. Pechorin, the titular 'hero', lives a life that he himself finds boring, where the only joys to be had are in the machinations of the society around him, which he only approaches from a distance, and always so that they have no effect on him. His tale is mysterious, and mysteriously told; I think I shall find myself returning to this book in the near future to re-examine Lermontov's ideas. Some aspects seem written for me, and perhaps here is another warning for me to heed.
  • (4/5)
    This Russian novel features my favorite Byronic hero ever, the self-aware super jerk Pechorin. Unlike the Byronic heroes of English literature we aren't really told that Pechorin is secretly good underneath. He is a complex man but he never pretends to be anything but selfish and hedonistic. In a series of interconnected short stories that report to be Pechorin's diaries we are introduced to a man who knows his flaws and yet is unconcerned with changing to become a better man. Even as he seems to realize his actions will only hurt him in the end. A great book for fans of Russian literature or people who love a good anti-hero.
  • (3/5)
    Sort of fun to read. Lots of tongue-in-cheek humor.
  • (4/5)
    This is not really a novel, but instead a collection of short stories about a central character - the anti-hero Pechorin, and his adventures in the mountainous frontiers of the Caucasus. It's somewhere between a psychological realism in the diary entries of our brooding, bored, and manipulative Pechorin; a romantic view of nature, princess, bravery, tribes and Cossacks; and even a sort of lyric style evident in the language. (or at least a lyricism which survives translation).

    Pechorin's fatalism, boredom, and defiance lead him to arrogant recklessness - duels, bets, chasing skirts, and so forth. Is this an echo of the author's forebodings of his own life? (Dead in a duel at 26). Or of his remembrance of Pushkin? Either way, this is still a fine example of 19th century literature or early Russian literature, and worth investigating - 'Princess Mary' and 'The Fatalist' are my favorites.
  • (5/5)
    a brilliant psychological study with early exploration into layered narration and non-linear plot sequence. The irony and humor are sublime. Don't skip the Foreward! Truly a literary landmark!

  • (5/5)
    "Geroi nashego vremeni" is one of my favorite books. This is partly b/c it's one of the books I read in Russian that I could understand - so the language was nice and clear and simple. But it's also an excellent example of the "tortured Russian soul" trope.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this collection of stories of Pechorin's life. I especially liked the story of his relationship with Princess Mary, I found that, of all of the stories, to be the most enjoyable.
    One thing I especially liked about this book, was having the two separate narratives, starting out with the narrator relaying a story about Pechorin and Bela, and then later moving onto Pechorin's journals, so Pechorin became the narrator of the later stories. I really enjoyed having this duel narration, as I felt it allowed the reader to get to know the character better.
    Overall it was a good read, full of interesting stories which kept me turning the pages.
  • (5/5)
    This book quite frankly is fantastic.Some say the main character Pechorin resembles Lermontov's inner thoughts and is partially autobiographical. Having read the book I can easily see how one could make the argument that such is the case, it certainly fits in with Lemontov's death where he harassed someone until they challenged him to a duel, which upon accepting he then sabotaged the outcome by firing into air and waiting his fate (which turned out to be a bullet through the heart). Pechorin is sketched out as a Bryonic hero who seems to verge into sociopathic territory. His only motivation at times appears to be the enjoyment of manipulating others and his only emotion at times is the anger at loss.It's a moving book, a compelling book and a well written book.Do not let the time of writing, 1839, turn you away as it is an easily accessible text.Notes: I read the c1900 Thomas Nelson & Sons edition translated from Russian by John Swinnerton Phillimore.
  • (4/5)
    Anton Chekhov considered Mikhail Lermontov's Taman, one of the five closely linked stories which make up this volume, the model short story. Taman is the highlight of the novel for me, but the whole thing is a remarkable achievement. Lermontov's Pechorin, though modeled on Pushkin's Onegin, is on one level the archetypal "superfluous man" of 19th century Russian fiction, and on another a strikingly modern character: romantic, cynical, heroic, a destroyer of self and of others who venture too near. He's a nasty piece of work, yet pitiable in his way. The stories combine psychological insight with rousing adventure, and the whole thing moves along at a cracking pace. Recommended for anyone who complains that Russian literature is too slow.
  • (4/5)
    An excellent, and somewhat rare book in that other 19th century literature usually used females as their protagonists, in the case of self-defeating behaviour and narcissism. The lead (male) character moves through life with a kind of fascination as to just how far he can push situations and manipulate the emotions of others, without seeming to ever want to possess or even ruin the women that come in to contact with him. Written beautifully in a wonderful setting, Russia's Caucasian mountains, near the current Georgia border.Great book, one of Russia's "hidden jewels".
  • (4/5)
    I took rather a longer time reading this than I had expected to, given its slim size, but that shouldn't be read as a commentary on the book. This translation was actually quite good, as well, I thought; there was a flow to it that I often find lacking in translations, and it seems from the descriptions of the book that I've read that the translator got the feel of the different characters and the world down well.The world in question in mid-19th century Georgia, specifically in the Caucasus, a place that Lermontov obviously loved geographically, but he was less fond of the people to be found there. Much of the book is a satirical look at the elites found in the area, along with the other military characters. I suppose that some of these people have it due to them, but probably the one doing the poking probably deserved some satire about himself, as well.This book is one of those Romantic novels, and I have had very little time for such things, I have to say. The Romantics are probably down at the bottom of the list of literary movements I've read, and this book reminds me why. Sure, you can pierce people for their pretensions, but the people writing it are just as pretentious. It's just in a different way, but it's one that's just as annoying to me, generally.Anyway, the plot is fairly good, with some good scheming by the main character, Pechorin, and the structure, with the five different stories not falling in chronological order, makes for an interesting time of putting things together and working out what the point of breaking it up that way was. Still, while I liked this well enough, I'm not going to run out and start recommending it to lots of people. Maybe I'm just too cynical to be a Romantic.
  • (4/5)
    The book tells the story from two points of view of the middle years of life of Gregoriy Pechorin, a Russian military man in the 19th century from a noble background. The first quarter of the book is told in the first person by a narrator some years older than Pechorin who had served with him briefly; the narrator is telling the story to a fellow traveler as they climb through mountains in that land: Ossetia, Caucasus, etc - there are plenty of Ossetes, Cossacks, Chechnyans and others peppered throughout the book. Later in the book, the stories are positioned as being from Pechorin's journals. Aside from a lark into talking about mountain scenery in the manner of Thoreau, the prose is pitch-perfect and as such is just as emotional as Tolstoy where it attempts to be. Although the author, some reviewers and others have tried to paint Pechorin as a victim or a decent guy, I suspect this is a struggled approach to accommodate the title of the book. Pechorin is pretty much devoid of compassion, he's judgmental, bored, manipulative, a perfect devil, without the will to try to hurt everyone, just a few. However, the book is so well written that it could document anyone and the reader would enjoy and be hungry to read on and on in the lyrical, rythymic, hpnotic writing prowess.
  • (3/5)
    The shade of Byron, or perhaps more accurately of the Byronic hero (that petulant and brooding vampiric pretty boy that has fascinated us since the days of the famous celebrity-poet), looms large, though in a decidedly ironic fashion, in Lermontov’s _A Hero of Our Time_. The titular ‘hero’ Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, seen both from the outside and from within, displays from every angle the nearly perfect vision of the ‘tragic’ Byronic douche bag. From his ability to sway any woman with little more than a glance from his deep, sorrowful, mesmeric eyes and a healthy dose of the cold shoulder, to his barely suppressed glee at the ease with which he can manipulate the feelings and actions of those he sees as his inferiors (everyone really) with little more than a bon mot or roll of the eyes, and his long internal monologues bemoaning the tragic fate that has unfairly made him a pariah in the eyes of the world Pechorin is an exemplar of the Byronic template. Presented as several linked stories, starting out with a frame narrative that lets us see Pechorin from the outside which then moves to the personal journal of the man himself, the stories of Pechorin’s life as relayed by Lermontov are dripping with bitterness and irony.

    There is a playful, maybe even precious, level of self-awareness in this novel as Lermontov gleefully fills his protagonist with all of the foibles and features of the self-loving (and loathing) Byronic hero. Pechorin is also often used as a mouthpiece for the social and intellectual issues of the day that Lermontov wants to bring front and centre. At times he displays an almost post-modern regret for the lost innocence of mankind and his earlier beliefs: …And we, their miserable descendants, roaming over the earth, without faith, without pride, without enjoyment, and without terror – except that involuntary awe which makes the heart shrink at the thought of the inevitable end – we are no longer capable of great sacrifices…because we know the impossibility of such happiness…[and] we pass from doubt to doubt… At others he spouts typically romantic paens to the grandeur of nature, the tininess of mankind and the greatness of his own spirit destined to be crushed by life and fate.

    Ultimately when considering this novel it’s important to realize that, true to its title, it’s all about Pechorin . Whether considering the first part of the novel in which he is viewed with an almost hero-worshipping fascination by the old soldier Maksim Maksimych who relays his reminiscences to our unnamed narrator, or we read the words of the man himself in his private journals, Pechorin truly is (in his own mind at least) a hero of his time. It’s fair to say that Pechorin is a keen observer of the faults and weaknesses of others, however he pairs this with delusions of self-awareness that are monumental in their erroneousness. Indeed Lermontov playfully has his hero allude (sneeringly of course) to the manner in which an adversary acts as though his “aim is to make himself the hero of a novel. He has so often endeavoured to convince others that he is being created not for this world and doomed to certain mysterious sufferings…” This statement, once you get to know Pechorin, displays Lermontov’s liberal use of irony which is nearly dripping from the page. Of course Pechorin is also a model roué whose motto comes out as he reflects on the type of women he has been able to seduce and destroy: “I must confess that, in fact, I do not love women who possess strength of character. What business have they with such a thing?” Everything and everyone is a tool to be used, most especially to divert him and relieve his soul from its monumental ennui and dissatisfaction with daily life. He is a man whose philosophy seems to hearken back to the teaching of Machiavelli and perhaps even looks forward to those to come of Nietszche: …ambition is nothing more nor less than a thirst for power, and my chief pleasure is to make everything that surrounds me subject to my will. To arouse the feeling of love, devotion and awe towards oneself – is not that the first sign, and the greatest triumph, of power? After having lived this philosophy to the full and having destroyed, or nearly destroyed, the lives of numerous ‘friends’ and ‘lovers’ and things finally start to go sour Pechorin even has the audacity to wonder “Why do they all hate me?” There but for the grace of God.

    I enjoyed this novel, primarily for its delicious irony, and was shocked to find that upon its release it was apparently taken as an honest tribute to the Byronic rake, so much so in fact that the author felt obliged to spell things out in a preface to the second edition. In it the author described the reading public of Russia as “like a simple-minded person from the country who, chancing to hear a conversation between two diplomatists belonging to hostile courts, comes away with the conviction that each of them has been deceiving his Government in the interest of a most affectionate private friendship”. Meow. I guess irony wasn’t in vogue then, since so far as I was concerned you couldn’t miss it. Sadly it might be said that Pechorin is as much a hero of our time as he was in his own.
  • (5/5)
    Pechorin is quite apt in his allusion of himself to the vampire. He is the superflous man, the Byronic anti-hero. the military man who duels and procreates quite a bit. It is ironic, or perhaps only logical, that Lermontov was killed in a duel much like the one his character Pechorin fought and survived.Pechorin is intelligent, perceptive, sophisticated, cunning, introspective, charismatic, seductive, dominant, and moody. Yes, Dracula!I was quite entertained and absorbed in Pechorin's misadventures. With a lightning swoop of the pen Lermontov gives us all we need to formulate pictures of the mountains, frontier posts, and society balls.I think Pechorin would have been much more interesting were he not so preoccupied with women, though I must admit I liked the way he handled Princess Mary. I was almost giddy over it!Many postmodern men must see themselves reflected in Pechorin (should they ever happen upon his pale countenance). In several ways I see myself in Pechorin—his cynicism, his childhood, what he finds entertaining...I did feel bad about some of the occurrences. I felt bad for Pechorin's horse. As for the fool man-boy Grushnitsky—did he get what he deserved? Those who live by the sword die by the sword...I found 'The Fatalist' to be the most philosophical story as well as the most strange. I wish Lermontov would have placed Pechorin in more of those situations, though really I shouldn't complain—I enjoyed my read very much.
  • (5/5)
    Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, the main character in this book, is anything but a hero. He is cynical, superficial, and has no lasting attachments to anyone. The boredom he feels with life leads him to manipulate and toy with the passions of those around him, like a cat somewhat distractedly playing with a fatally wounded mouse or bird. The depths to which he does this become particularly apparent in the 4th section of the book, when for kicks he gets a young woman to fall for him, and incites a duel with her rival suitor.Duels are described in many 19th century books and always fascinate me. In this case, it was of particular interest, knowing that Lermontov himself was killed in a duel at the tender of age of 26 following a trivial quarrel with an old schoolfriend. He had survived a duel the year before and apparently the experience wasn’t enough to dissuade him from doing it again. Shades of Pushkin, that giant of Russian literature, who was killed in his 29th(!) duel at age 37 four years earlier, and after having also written of a duel in his masterpiece Eugene Onegin.Aside from the duel, I also liked the book for its beautiful descriptions of travel in the Caucasus mountains, and for its shocking descriptions of the attitudes towards women at the time, an example of which was a brother binding his beautiful Circassian sister and delivering her to a stranger in exchange for a horse. (yes, wow).While it’s nice to be transported to a completely foreign way of life, and while the book is essentially providing a negative outlook on the current generation and its “hero” of 1839, it interests me that these sentiments would shortly be echoed by other Russian authors, and are of course echoed by many other authors across all times. And, while I don’t agree with it (I am a believer in the opposite, that the human condition is improving), the following could have been said by a pessimist about today’s generation: “Whereas we, their miserable descendants, who roam the earth without convictions or pride, without rapture or fear (except for that instinctive dread that compresses our hearts at the thought of the inevitable end), we are no longer capable of great sacrifice, neither for the good of mankind, nor even for our own happiness, because we know its impossibility, and pass with indifference from doubt to doubt, just as our ancestors rushed from one delusion to another. But we, however, do not have either their hopes or even that indefinite, albeit real, rapture that the soul encounters in any struggle with men or with fate.”The courtship between men and women is shown to be a bit like a game of chess, or perhaps better put, a duel, and I was reminded of the Kerouac line “We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time” while thinking about that. In these ways, while the book is a reflection of a completely different time and place, it is also timeless, and that combination always gets me. The only part I disliked? Nabokov and his son were the translators of this particular edition, and their numbered notes in the back, meant to help the reader along with the text, were seriously annoying. First off, in several places Nabokov gives away parts of what is to come later in the story! Grrr. Secondly, he can’t help but editorialize and criticize. Save it for an appropriate place! He casts his net wide, from various points on Lermontov, e.g. “Throughout the book, he has trouble finding the right words for natural objects” to finding an opportunity to take potshots at Balzac and Tolstoy, e.g. “The allusion is to … a vulgar novelette, ending in a ridiculous melodrama, by the overrated French writer, Balzac”. What was wrong with this guy? He reminds me of an intellectual who is pompous on the outside and insecure on the inside, perhaps because deep down he knew he didn’t have the talent to create the raw, emotional, or spiritual connection with the reader that the giants of the golden age of Russian literature had, that his precise yet sterile prose had risen to fame initially from a book on pedophilia, and is jealous and overly critical of them as a result. Ahem. I digress. I know he is adored by many, including some of my friends, but seriously, those notes bothered me. He and I just don’t seem to mix.And I’m done now, except for these quotes:On cruelty:“…ambition is nothing else than thirst for power, and my main pleasure – which is to subjugate to my will all that surrounds me, and to excite the emotions of love, devotion, and fear in relation to me – is it not the main sign and greatest triumph of power? To be to somebody the cause of sufferings and joys, without having any positive right to it – is this not the sweetest possible nourishment for our pride?” On difficulty in childhood:“Everybody read in my face the signs of bad inclinations which were not there, but they were supposed to be there – and so they came into existence. I was modest – they accused me of being crafty; I became secretive. I felt deeply good and evil – nobody caressed me, everybody offended me: I became rancorous. I was gloomy – other children were merry and talkative. I felt myself superior to them – but was considered inferior: I became envious. I was ready to love the whole world – none understood me: and I learned to hate. My colourless youth was spent in a struggle with myself and with the world. Fearing mockery, I buried my best feelings at the bottom of my heart: there they died. I spoke the truth – I was not believed: I began to deceive. … And then in my breast despair was born – not that despair which is cured with the pistol’s muzzle, but cold, helpless despair, concealed under amiability and a good-natured smile.”On passion:“She glanced at me intently, shook her head and again became lost in thought: it was evident that she wanted to say something, but she did not know how to begin. Her breast heaved … What would you – a muslin sleeve is little protection, and an electric spark ran from my wrist to hers. Almost all passions start thus! and we often deceive ourselves greatly in thinking that a woman loves us for our physical or moral qualities. Of course, they prepare and incline their hearts for the reception of the sacred fire: nonetheless, it is the first contact that decides the matter.”On travel, and wanderlust:“My soul has been impaired by the fashionable world, I have a restless fancy, an insatiable heart; whatever I get is not enough; I become used as easily to sorrow as to delight, and my life becomes more empty day by day; there is only one remedy left for me: to travel. As soon as I can, I shall set out – but, not for Europe, God preserve! I shall go to America, to Arabia, to India – perchance I may die somewhere, on the way!”Lastly, these descriptions of traveling through the Caucasus:“We set out; five skinny nags dragged our carriages with difficulty along the road winding up Mount Gud. We followed on foot, chocking the wheels with stones whenever the horses became exhausted; the road seemed to lead up into the sky because, as far as the eye could see, it kept ascending and, finally, it lost itself in the cloud which, since the previous evening, had been resting on the summit of Mount Gud, like a vulture awaiting its prey; the snow crunched underfoot; the air was becoming so rare that it was painful to breathe; the blood kept rushing to our heads every moment, but despite all this, a delighted kind of feeling spread along all my veins, and I felt somehow elated at being so far above the world – a childish feeling, no doubt, but, on getting away from social conventions and coming closer to nature, we cannot help becoming children: all the things that have been acquired are shed by the soul, and it becomes again as it was once, and as it is surely to be again some day.”“And indeed, the road was dangerous: on the right, there hung, over our heads, masses of snow, ready, it seemed, at the first gust of wind, to come tumbling into the gorge; the narrow road was partly covered by snow which, at some places, gave way underfoot, while in others, it had turned into ice from the action of the sun’s rays and night frosts, so that we had trouble making our way on foot; the horses kept falling: on our left, yawned a deep gulch, where a torrent rolled, now hiding under the icy crust, now leaping family over the black boulders. In two hours we could hardly get around Mt. Cross – a little more than a mile in two hours! Meanwhile, the clouds had settled, it began to hail and to snow heavily; the wind, bursting into the gorges, roared, whistling like Nightingale the Robber, and soon the stone cross disappeared in the mist…”
  • (3/5)
    He knew himself a villain—but he deem'dThe rest no better than the thing he seem'd;And scorn'd the best as hypocrites who hidThose deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.He knew himself detested, but he knewThe hearts that loath'd him, crouch'd and dreaded too.Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exemptFrom all affection and from all contempt:Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, (I, XI) (1812–1818)Vladimir Nabokov collaborated with Dmitri Nabokov on creating a translation of A hero of our time by Mikhail Lermontov. Apart from Nabokov's claim that their translation is more authentic, and more faithful to the Russian language conventions of Lermontov, perhaps the most decisive difference between this translation and other translations is that, in most translations A hero of our time is presented as a collection of related novellae and short stories, while Nabokov insists that the book is a novel, suggesting a plot structure which resembles the well-known Matryoshka dolls, of one story nested in another story, suggesting a structure of three levels. Nabokov supports this theory by illustrating a similar structure in a poem, written by Mikhail Lermontov, which lugubriously predicts his own death.In eithet case, the story of A hero of our time is hard to follow, or, more likely, the story does not matter. What matters is the character of the main protagonist, Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin. From each of the five chapters or narratives, the image arises of Pechorin as a capricious character, wild and irresponsible, "a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection", as Lord Macaulay would have it.Mikhail Lermontov was a Russian author, who was born in 1814, and died at the early age of 27, in a duel in 1841. A Hero of Our Time was published at the height of the Romantic period, in 1840. The character of Pechorin can best be understood as bearing similarity to the "Byronic character" a type of character that despite its obvious flaws has remained popular in literature since the early Nineteenth century.A hero of our time was written at a time when Mikhail Lermontov was stationed in Georgia, and the novel provides some beautiful descriptions of the rugged landscape there.
  • (4/5)
    It’s almost painful to read this book. Not because the book is bad but because I want to strangle Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, the main character in this book, who is very simply, not a hero – self-centered, arrogant in both an aware and unaware sense, cynical, calculatedly maniacal, and with few cares for the human kind. Pity the many women who have fallen for his fake charms. This book is written in five major segments, with the first two establishing the then present tense and the last three looking back in time via Pechorin’s journals. The fourth was the longest and most elaborate involving the manipulation of love (Princess Mary), inciting jealousy (ex-lover Vera who is not so-ex), provoking a rival (Grushnitski) that results in a duel with obvious consequences. In the first (second longest), Pechorin had Princess Bela kidnapped, enticed to fall in love with him, and promptly loses interest thereafter. In the second, he breaks an old man’s heart, who had believed him to be a friend, not realizing that Pechorin recognizes no friendship. Pechorin lived his life as a game, where his every move is calculated and became bored once his goal is achieved, especially when winning the heart of a pretty lady. In the whole world, only Vera understood him, and even then, he lets her go.Despite all such negative themes, there is a peculiar magnetic quality to the writing – the scenic Russian lands, the visualization of key characters, and the unavoidable timeless chase between men and women. It’s an odd coincidence that Lermontov himself died from a duel started from a petty disagreement and that months before his death, he composed a prophetic poem about death in dreams. Meanwhile the fifth story in the book speaks of Pechorin’s readiness for death. I somewhat wonder if Pechorin is a version of Lermontov. Write what you know, right? One last point: Regarding the translators, Vladimir Nabokov and Dmitri Nabokov, I generally love reading the notes, but for the first time, this book’s footnotes are excessive and a distraction. Also, the notes were not always factual but opinionated (107), critical of French literature (“novelistic formula” 57), and they needlessly provided future plot points (100). Despite the abundance of notes, it didn’t provide translation of the French text within the English, which would have been welcomed! Some quotes:On the coming of dawn:“… the dances of stars were interlinked in wondrous patterns above the distant horizon and went out, one by one, while the palish reflection of dawn flooded the dark-violet vault, gradually illuming the steep slopes of the mountains, covered with virgin snow. Right and left, gloomy and mysterious abysses yawned black, and thither glided the mists, whirling and winding, like snakes, down the furrows of nearby cliffs, as if aware and afraid of the approach of day.”On the sadness of the elderly:“… It is sad to see a youth lose his fondest hopes and dreams, when the rosy tulle, through which he had looked upon the acts and feelings of men, is torn aside before him, even though there is hope that he will replace his old delusions by new ones, no less fleeting but also no less sweet. But by what can one replace them at Maksim Maksimich’s age? No wonder that the heart hardens and the soul folds up.”On memory:“… Every reminder of a past sorrow or joy painfully strikes my soul and extracts from it the same old sounds...” On the game of love – sickening thought yet artful words:“… there is boundless delight in the possession of a young, barely unfolded soul! It is like a flower whose best fragrance emanates to meet the first ray of the sun. It should be plucked that very minute and after inhaling one’s fill of it, one should throw it away on the road…” On death:“… On the contrary, as far as I am concerned, I always advance with greater courage, when I do not know what awaits me. For nothing worse than death can ever occur; and from death there is no escape!”
  • (4/5)
    Much of this short novel was quite amusing but pretty unremarkable, but it stepped up a gear or two during the duel scene at the end of the Princess Mary section, uncannily predictive of Lermontov's fate a year or two later, and in the final The Fatalist section. Still not sure that this is quite the all time classic of Russian literature it's held to be, more significant simply for being the first real Russian novel.