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 by means of existence and detached to his many sexual conquests. Chronicling his unforgettable adventures within the Caucasus related to brigands, smugglers, squaddies, competitors, and enthusiasts, this vintage story of alienation inspired 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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In printed texts this is conspicuously true of Sir Richard Baker in his rebuttal of the virulent anti-theatricalism of William Prynne’s Histrio-Mastix (1632), and I argue that Baker’s strategy of appropriation is closely related to the ways in which Florio augments the theatrical sense of Montaigne. We have long known that Shakespeare, Marston, Cary, Webster, and other dramatists borrowed freely from Florio, treating his book as an immense warehouse of fresh perception, laconic wit, and outlandish vocabulary.

Florio, following Montaigne, notes a double standard regarding sexual restraint: ‘we have resigned the most difficult and vigorous devoire of mankinde unto women, and quit them the glory of it’ (F517; M904). 113 Yet precisely due to such distortions, aphoristic adaptation provides an exceptionally clear instance of Montaignian reception among seventeenthcentury English readers. 114 Florio’s Montaigne is not merely an English translation of a remarkable French book, but a reading of the Essays, indeed a reading in the service of a major act of rewriting.

56 His habit, rather, of scrutinizing his own active consciousness impresses many readers as fundamental to the character of his book. 57 No doubt ‘prouinge’ is somewhat tendentious with respect to Montaigne’s reflective commentary, but this reader nonetheless recognizes that perception and experience are integral to the essayist’s compositional practice—and thus to the Essays as the printed manifestation of a new discursive form. ’59 Bemused or qualified praise is thus a prevalent attitude among Montaigne’s English readers.

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