Largely unknown in the west due to poor translations (and this one is not much better.)
For his only novel, Lermontov deserves to be regarded as one of the founding fathers of Russian prose. A Hero of Our Time is actually a tightly knitted collection of short stories revolving around a single character, Pechorin. The short stories comprising this work are intricately connected, and the reader moves from a superficial glimpse of the character's actions to an understanding of his philosophy and of the secret springs of his seemingly mysterious behavior. The innovative structure of the novel is very modern, and has inspired several imitations, notably by Vladimir Nabokov in his novel Pnin (1955).
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