50 pages 1 hour read

Mikhail Lermontov

A Hero Of Our Time

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1838

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Preface-Book 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Book 1: “Bela the Heart of a Russian”

Preface to the Second Edition

Content Warning: The guide references biased descriptions of women and the people of the Caucasus that are present in the original text.

Readers and critics should not take Pechorin’s story literally: He is a composite portrait of the typical Russian man of his time. Lermontov admits that Pechorin is based on himself, his friends, and men he has met “too often” (6) in real life. Lermontov insists that there is no moral to the story; he is pointing out society’s problems, not trying to fix them.

Book 1, Chapter 1 Summary

The unnamed narrator, a member of the Russian army, is traveling through the Caucasus mountains from Tbilisi (referred to as Tiflis), Georgia, to a nearby military station. He is having difficulty traversing the mountains, although his cart is being pulled by six oxen and several local Ossetians (Ossetes in the text). He meets an experienced officer, a staff captain in the Russian military, who has been stationed in the Caucasus and is transporting “Government things” (8).

The narrator is impressed that only four oxen are easily pulling the officer’s cart while the team of six is struggling with his relatively empty one. The officer tells the narrator, who is also a military man, that the Ossetians extort money from inexperienced travelers by making them hire more oxen than necessary and demanding tips.