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'After all that - how, you might wonder, could one not become a fatalist?' Lermontov's hero, Pechorin, is a young army officer posted to the Caucasus, where his adventures - amorous and reckless - do nothing to alleviate his boredom and cynicism. World-weary and self-destructive, Pechorin is alienated from those around him yet he is full of passion and romantic ardour, sensitive as well as arrogant. His complex, contradictory character dominatesA Hero of Our Time, the first great Russian novel, in which the intricate narrative unfolds episodically, transporting the reader from the breathtaking terrain of the Caucasus to the genteel surroundings of spa resorts. Told in an engaging yet pointedly ironic style, the story expresses Lermontov's own estrangement from the stifling conventions of bourgeois society and the oppression of Russian autocracy, but it also captures a longing for freedom through acts of love and bravery. This new edition also includes Pushkin'sJourney to Arzrum, in which Pushkin describes his own experiences of Russia's military campaigns in the Caucasus and which provides a fascinating counterpoint to Lermontov's novel.
Nicolas Pasternak Slater has translated several works by Boris Pasternak, most recently The Family Correspondence, 1921-1960 (Hoover Press, 2010).
Andrew Kahn has written widely on Russian literature. His books include The Cambridge Companion to Pushkin (2006) and Pushkin's Lyric Intelligence (OUP, 2008, pbk 2012). For Oxford World's Classics he has edited Pushkin's The Queen of Spades and Other Stories and Montesquieu's Persian Letters.