A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

By Mikhail Lermontov

A super new translation of a perennial favourite of Russian Literature

The first significant Russian novel, A Hero of Our Time used to be either lauded and reviled upon booklet. Its dissipated hero, twenty-five-year-old Pechorin, is a gorgeous and magnetic yet nihilistic younger military officer, bored through existence and detached to his many sexual conquests. Chronicling his unforgettable adventures within the Caucasus concerning brigands, smugglers, squaddies, competitors, and enthusiasts, this vintage story of alienation motivated Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov in Lermontov's personal century, and reveals its modern day opposite numbers in Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, the novels of Chuck Palahniuk, and the movies and performs of Neil LaBute.

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Her helpless, semiconscious figure is contrasted to the antiseptic atmosphere of the station and to Walter, the medical attendant on duty, "an older man in a white-and-red striped blouse with bared arms. He was wearing steel-frame spectacles; he had lost the hair from the middle of his skull, but on the sides it was bushy and grew malevolently toward the front, black and gray" (E 142). In a narrative so completely restricted to externals, it is no surprise that this figure is as brutal as his description would suggest.

It is significant that the heaviest blow to Wadzek is not defeat at the hands of his business rival Rommel. 10 The real stroke of fate is Wadzek's realization at the end of the second book that no one has persecuted and besieged him, that he has been heroically tilting at windmills. The crisis in the middle of the novel is precipitated precisely by the destruction of his heroic image of himself. 11 The narrator makes clear at the first introduction of Schneemann that he is important as a type: "There were many men like him in the city," and "Like all men of his type, he had a clever, suffering wife and several children" (W 12).

While men battle and wage war against each other, you produce children as a bloody tribute to war and heroism; think of the demands of destiny. 43 In this text too, one hears clear echoes of Nietzsche. But in Marinetti's novel Mafarka le Futiriste there are no heroic women bearing the warriors of the future. On the contrary, women are useful only for their "valeur animale," as in the mass rape of captured Negresses in the first chapter: [The soldiers] had laid out all the Negresses, wriggling and bruised, in the mud, and they were taking aim with their black, sooty rods, more twisted than roots.

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