I picked up 'A Hero of Our Time' in Hatchards at St Pancras (there's something particularly agreeable about finding a reasonably good bookshop at a train station, it's as if the world is suddenly just as it should be for a moment) because it sounded like that rare thing; a Russian book that I might get on with.
The introduction explains at length about how interesting this book is, how groundbreaking and influential, but it also stresses how enjoyable it is to read and on the end that's really what matters most to me on a sunny July afternoon. Neil LaBute describes Pechorin as 'One of the most vivid and persuasive portraits of the male ego ever put down on paper', he's a difficult character, both compelling and repulsive, but he's still a very young man in a book written by a very young man. Pechorin isn't allowed to grow old, and neither was Lermontov (it seems he was killed in a duel) so we'll never know what either of them might have been. Which as far as Lermentov is concerned is a shame.
'A Hero of Our Time' is cynical, ironic, funny, provocative, picturesque, and it mentions Sir Walter Scott's 'Old Mortality'. I can't offer any great insight into it, but I can wholeheartedly recommend it.