A Hero of Our Time looks backward to the tales of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron, so beloved by Russian society in the 1820s and '30s.
The first example of the psychological novel in Russia, A Hero of Our Time influenced Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov, and other great nineteenth-century Russian masters that followed.
It is a classic of the “superfluous man” genre, in which a frustrated Byronic hero, for want of an outlet for his passion, lapses into gambling, womanizing, and ennui.
Outraging critics when it was first published in 1840 A Hero of Our Time follows the archetypal Russian antihero, Pechorin, as he embarks on an exciting adventure involving brigands, smugglers, soldiers, rivals, and lovers.
Lermontov's novel looks forward to the subsequent glories of a Russian literature that it helped, in great measure, to make possible with its abductions, duels, and sexual intrigues.
What is striking is Lermontov's handling of form, the way Pechorin emerges gradually in a fragmented narrative that anticipates Modernism in its perspectival shifts.
Mikhail Lermontov (1814–1841) was a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837 and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism. His influence on later Russian literature is still felt in modern times, not only through his poetry, but also through his prose, which founded the tradition of the Russian psychological novel. He died in a duel at the age of 26.
“Military life in the Caucasus, bandits, duels, romance at the hands of a passionate adventurer with "a restless imagination, an insatiable heart. That is Pechorin, and also Lermontov. If you have a personal all-time bestseller list, make room for A Hero of our Time.”