Translated from the Russian by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen
Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time was the first modern Russian novel. Published in 1840, it set a model of penetrating observation and psychological depth that would come to typify Russian literature. Its "hero," Grigorii Pechorin, also established a character type that became known in Russian fiction as "the superfluous man"—widely familiar from Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. At once driven by pride and wracked by self-doubt, both shockingly self-revealing and blindly self-deceived, he flounders to affirm himself in a social world he despises yet yearns to dominate. Pechorin is a troubling and unforgettable character. And A Hero of Our Time, which has provoked much controversy, is a novel not only central to Russian literature but fundamental to the Western literary tradition of the antihero.