We will discuss "A Hero of Our Time" by Mikhail Lermontov

"A Hero of Our Time" is often called the first "major" Russian novel (although it is short). Lermontov is known as the primary Russian Romantic poet (beside Pushkin), and typical of the Russian Romantic, expresses the sense of nihilism that would be more fully expressed and discussed by later writers, such as Dostoyevsky and Turgenev. Literary genres and sociology aside, this is a wonderfully expressive and exciting book and enjoyable as simply a piece of entertainment as well.

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  • Alice S.

    Just read an essay by Galina Dutkina, "Sovs, Hacks, and Freeloaders" in which she says: ...millions of Russian television viewers have fuond endless Mexican soap operas to their taste... The popularity of these shows has not only surpassed All Soviet and Western films masterpieces, literary scenarios following the formula of these sagas have become more cherished by the ordinary Russian than even the works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Tolstoy, and Chekhov taken together--I won't even mention Dostoyevsky, who requires particular mental and emotional effort to read. These Mexican shows "bred new Ivan the Fool types by the millions, who dream of their own personal Firebird of Fortune.

    May 2, 2013

  • Fred S.

    Brian, thank you for your thoughtful comments. They shed light on many questions I had about Lermontov's novel. You have a deft touch in guiding the discussion.

    May 2, 2013

  • bonnie n.

    from the TLS .. Narrated from three different viewpoints, told in five chronologically disordered episodes, A Hero of Our Time remains the most modern and innovative of Russian novels, even though it was written in 1840 by a poet, still adolescent in spirit, whose genius otherwise lay in transforming self-pity and mal de siècle into intoxicatingly melodious verse. Lermontov's fast-flowing and economic prose came out of the blue. A Hero of Our Time is also the archetypal colonial novel: Lermontov foreshadows the French in Algeria, the British in India, as well as Tolstoy (Khadji-Murat) and Chekhov ("The Duel"). Chekhov himself asserted that one episode of A Hero of Our Time (the ten pages of "Taman") was so perfect that it should be studied sentence by sentence by anyone learning to write fiction. At the same time, Lermontov's novel is a portrait of self-hatred: Pechorin's destiny prefigures the author's own death in a duel which was really suicide by proxy....

    2 · May 2, 2013

  • Erica L.

    Thanks, Brian! Good discussion, good leader and book. It was so interesting the variety of reactions to the "hero"! The book seemed to have many layers, and there was more that might have been explored or discussed further (probably the case with any book worth reading) -- the eerie tale "Taman" (I read that Chekhov loved this, its atmosphere especially), the role of fate and the supernatural, why these characters mostly lacked pasts/bios, for example.... all in all, though, another lovely evening with this group.

    May 1, 2013

  • Erica L.

    I might have to be late again tonight. Hope not! But I will be there, just so you know.

    1 · April 30, 2013

  • Faith R.

    Just realized that I have another commitment on that night. Hope to make another meeting soon

    April 21, 2013

  • Fred S.

    "As a matter of fact I had been told that mounted and wearing Circassian costume I look more like a Kabardian than many Kabardians."

    I'm waiting for the Kardashians to be mentioned. It's only a matter of time. Every other ethnic group has been mentioned.

    April 18, 2013

  • Fred S.

    "I must admit that I don't care for women with a mind of their own--it doesn't suit them!"

    Ahhhhh. Can't wait to hear the reaction of the crowd next week.

    This book is somewhat analogous to movies like Dangerous Liaisons, where the main characters are people careless with love, bored of life, misogynistic, narcissistic...

    April 18, 2013

  • Fred S.

    This book is a challenge partly because this reader is not familiar with Georgian and Caucasian geography, nor with the history of the region.

    April 10, 2013

  • Fred S.

    Love this group. I'll read anything you guys do, just to do the evenings in Bethesda with the group.

    1 · April 2, 2013

  • bonnie n.

    I went to ABE Books online to get the Nabokov translation. Amazon's not a source for the Nabokov version.

    March 30, 2013

  • Brian P.

    There is a supposedly excellent translation by Nabokov, but any translation will do.

    March 27, 2013

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