New Meetup: Mikhail Lermontov's "A Hero of Our Time" October 7

From: John
Sent on: Monday, September 6, 2010 11:31 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Classic Literature and Cafes Book Club!

What: Mikhail Lermontov's "A Hero of Our Time"

When: Thursday, October 7,[masked]:00 PM

Where: Cafe La Boheme
[masked]th St. across 24th from BART
San Francisco, CA 94110

Friends and Fellow Literature Lovers,

October's book is a classic of 19th-century Russian literature written by one of that century's greatest novelists and poets. Like Don Quixote, A Hero of Our Time is comprised of series of picaresque adventures, although its point of view is perhaps a bit darker. Lermontov's observations can be psychologically astute and bitingly ironic, and his version of romanticism seems to herald the nihilism of Dostoyevsky's Devils. Lermontov's description of the non-Russian tribes in the Caucasus is also fascinating for both cultural and historic reasons... There exist several translations of Lermontov's novel, including one by Nabokov with erudite and occasionally snarky footnotes. I look forward to our discussion! Below is a brief description of Lermontov's novel. ~John

Set in the Russian Caucasus, A Hero of Our Time (1840) revolves around Grigory Pechorin, "a bored, self-centered, and cynical young army officer who believes in nothing. With impunity he toys with the love of women and the goodwill of men. He is brave, determined, and willful, but his energies and potential are wasted? Author Mikhail Lermontov describes his hero as 'composed of all the vices of our generation.' But Pechorin, the romantic young 'Hero of Our Time,' is much more than that. He is the fictional descendant and the Russian counterpart of those passionate young men who had preceded him in the works of Rousseau, Chateaubriand, Constant, and Byron. He is the immediate heir of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. Pechorin, nearly at the end of this tradition, set down in the Caucasian wilderness amid bandits and adventurers, beautiful ladies and treacherous comrades, becomes in his own right one of the great romantic heroes in modern literature, a blend of cynicism and passion, brutality and elegance, perceptiveness and impetuosity."
Lermontov's novel, part melodramatic page-turner and part travelogue, is also quite remarkable in its experimentation with form, technique, and dramatic irony. As critics have pointed out, the author "not only dislocates chronology to achieve his result; in equally brilliant fashion he reinforces the effect by employing different contemporary literary genres to create, in the end, a unified whole." This novel, which prefigures the great masterpieces of later nineteenth-century Russian literature, remains relevant to contemporary political and aesthetic concerns.

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