A Hero of Our Time (Lermontov)

From Translated Summaries
Disclaimer: This summary is automatically translated from Russian. It can contain silly mistakes.
A Hero of Our Time
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Summary of a book
Microsummary: A bored young officer exiled to the Caucasus, ruined a young Circassian girl, compromised a princess, betrayed an old friend, tested fate more than once, then left for Persia and died on his way back home.

Very brief summary

While on a business trip, Officer Pechorin stopped at a house near the Black Sea where an old woman and a blind boy lived.

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Grigory Pechorin Wikidata.svg — Young officer exiled to serve in the Caucasus, intelligent, educated, contradictory character, disappointed in life, looking for thrills.

At night he saw the boy going somewhere, followed him, and found out that the blind man was connected with smugglers. Pechorin threatened to turn them in to the authorities, for which they tried to kill him. The attempt failed, and the smugglers disappeared, leaving the blind boy behind.

Then Pechorin went to the waters, where he decided to conquer the beautiful princess. Unexpectedly, the princess was visited by a distant relative, the officer's former mistress. He began to meet with her again, courting the princess to divert his eyes. The cadet, who was on vacation at the water, saw Pechorin leaving his mistress' room at night, believing that he was visiting the princess, and spread rumors about it. Pechorin killed the junker in a duel, after which he was exiled to the Caucasus.

In the Caucasus Pechorin served under the command of a staff-captain who became his friend. One day the officer fell in love with a beautiful Circassian, the daughter of a mountain prince, and he exchanged the girl from her younger brother for a horse, which he stole from a militant mountaineer. The Circassian became Pechorin's mistress and quickly bored him. He began to leave frequently to go hunting.

During one of his absences, the bellicose mountaineer kidnapped the Cherkeshenka and left her, mortally wounded, to escape his pursuit. The Circassian girl died in Pechorin's arms. He was transferred to another unit, but his friendship with the staff-captain was not interrupted.

At the new place Pechorin's comrade-in-arms decided to test his fate with a Russian roulette. The gun misfired, but the next day a drunken Cossack killed the fellow soldier. Pechorin also decided to try his luck and got into the house where the murderer was locked up. The Cossack fired a shot, but only grazed the epaulet on the officer's shoulder. Then Pechorin told the staff-captain about the incident, but the old man did not believe in fate.

Then Pechorin and the staff-captain parted for a long time. The staff-captain was left with the officer's diary. During a chance meeting he wanted to return it, but Pechorin, who was going to Persia, did not want to communicate with his old friend and left without saying good-bye.

Detailed retelling by chapters

In the original the novel is divided into two parts.

Bela

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The narrator-officer, wandering through the Caucasus, meets Staff-Captain Maxim Maximych, a former commandant of a fortress on the southern borders of Russia.

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Maxim Maximych — Army officer in his fifties, a bachelor, kind, simple, honest.

He told him about Grigory Pechorin, who had served under his command.

Pechorin and Maxim Maximych quickly became buddies. One day the local Highland prince invited them to a feast. There Pechorin saw Bela, fell in love and decided to steal the girl from her father's house.

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Bela — The youngest daughter of a mountain prince, young, beautiful, proud, strong, but meek, loves Pechorin.

From Maxim Maximych, Pechorin learns that Bela's younger brother likes the horse of Kazbich, one of the Prince's guests.

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Kazbich — Highlander, brave, dashing, cruel, loves Bella.

The boy was willing to do anything for the sake of the horse and even offered Kazbich to steal his sister for him, but the latter refused.

You see how sometimes a little occasion has cruel consequences.

Pechorin decided to take advantage of this and promised the boy he would help steal the horse from Kazbich as a reward for Bela. The boy brought Bela to the fortress, took the horse, and disappeared forever.

Bela was homesick for a long time and did not respond to Pechorin's advances. Eventually she fell in love with him, but he had grown cold to her and began to resent her. Boredom overtook Pechorin once more, and he began to leave the girl alone in the fortress to go hunting for long periods.

During one of these absences Kazbich kidnapped Bela. Pechorin and Maxim Maximych rushed in pursuit, but Kazbich, realizing that he could not escape, threw the girl, mortally wounding her. Bela died in Pechorin's arms.

He suffered the loss deeply and never spoke of Bela again. Soon after the funeral he was transferred to another unit.


Maksim Maksimych

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Soon the narrator met Maxim Maximych again at a roadside inn. At the same time, on his way to Persia, Pechorin also stopped here. The old officer was delighted to see his friend, but he was in no hurry to see the old man.

Pechorin appeared the next day, greeted his comrade-in-arms coldly, and at once got ready to leave. Grieved and offended Maxim Maximych wanted to give Pechorin his diary, but the latter declared that he did not need it any more.

Pechorin left.

It had been a long time since the bell rang or the wheels clattered on the flinty road, and the poor old man stood in the same place in deep thoughtfulness.

Maxim Maximych gave Pechorin's diary to the narrator. The narrator decided to publish it when he learned that Pechorin had died while returning home from Persia.


Taman

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Hereinafter the narrative is conducted on behalf of Pechorin in the form of entries in his diary.

While on a business trip, Pechorin stopped in Taman, in a house on the Black Sea shore where an old woman and a blind boy lived. At night Pechorin noticed that the blind man had gone to the seashore and decided to follow him.

On the shore he saw the boy and the unknown girl passing some cargo to the man in the boat. In the morning, seeing the girl again, Pechorin met her and asked about the night's incident, but she did not answer him. Pechorin, who guessed that they were smugglers, threatened to tell the authorities about them. It almost cost him his life.

Late at night the girl called Pechorin for a rendezvous, and together they sailed on a boat out to sea.

And her cheek pressed against mine, and I felt her fiery breath on my face.

Suddenly the girl tried to push Pechorin into the water, but he managed to hold on to the boat, throw her into the sea, and return to shore.

Later, Pechorin saw the smugglers again. This time the man sailed away with the girl for good. They left the blind boy to his fate. The next morning Pechorin left Taman, regretting that he had broken the peace of the honest smugglers.


Princess Mary

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Pechorin has arrived in Pyatigorsk to be treated at the waters, where he meets a friend, the cadet Grushnitsky.

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Grushnitsky — A cadet in his twenties, Pechorin's companion, poor nobleman, vengeful, coward, slandererer and schemer.

The Ligovsky's - the princess and her lovely daughter Meri - shone in the high society formed on the waters.

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Mary Ligovskaya — Princess, on the one hand a cold society lady, on the other sensitive and vulnerable, capable of strong feelings.

Grushnitsky, fascinated by the princess, was looking for a reason to get to know him, but Meri was in no hurry to get close to him. Pechorin, on the contrary, has emphatically avoided meeting her, thus arousing her interest. He learned of this from the local doctor Werner, with whom he had become friends.

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Werner — Doctor, Pechorin's friend, short, thin, lame, outwardly unattractive, sarcastic and indifferent, but intelligent and charming.

Fleeing from boredom, Pechorin decides to win the girl's heart, realizing that by doing so he will arouse the jealousy of Grushnitsky, who is already passionately in love with Mary.

There is scarcely a young man who, having met a pretty woman who has caught his idle attention and suddenly clearly in front of him distinguished another, equally unfamiliar to her, <...> has not been struck unpleasantly by this.

From Werner, Pechorin learned that a very sick relative was visiting the princess, and from the description he understood that it was his old sweetheart, Vera.

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Vera — Ligovsky's distant relative, married lady, seriously ill, Pechorin's longtime lover, sincere, tender, truly loves him.

Pechorin's forgotten feelings are awakened. He begins to visit the Ligovsky's frequently, courting Meri for diversion.

Pechorin skillfully teased Meri with his coldness. Gradually the Princess began to think only of him and pay less and less attention to Grushnitsky. He understood that Pechorin was to blame for this and was jealous of her former friend.

Vera also became jealous and demanded that Pechorin promise that he would not marry the Princess. Once on a walk, Mary confessed her love to Pechorin, but he showed indifference, secretly enjoying his achievement: he had fallen in love with a girl without knowing why.

On returning from his walk, Pechorin overheard the officers talking and learned that they were planning to set him and Grushnitsky up in a duel for fun and to plant unloaded pistols on them. They were sure that Pechorin would chicken out.

One day, jumping off the balcony of Vera's room in the dead of night, Pechorin ran into Grushnitsky and his companions. The next day Grushnitsky announced publicly that Pechorin was Mary's lover.

Insulted, Pechorin challenged Grushnitsky to a duel. He told Werner what Grushnitsky was planning to do with the pistols, and the doctor agreed to be his second. At the duel, Pechorin stated that the pistols were not loaded, and the guns were replaced.

They were shot on the edge of a cliff so that even a slight wound would be fatal, and the corpse was blamed on the Circassians. In the end Grushnitsky died.

Upon learning of the duel, the agitated Vera confessed to her husband that she loved Pechorin, and her husband drove her out of town in indignation. Only then did Pechorin realize that Vera is dear to him: she alone loves and accepts him unconditionally.

Pechorin's superiors suspected that he was involved in a duel and transferred him to serve in the Caucasus. Before he left, he told Meri that he did not love her, and in response he heard: "I hate you."


The Fatalist

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Pechorin's battalion stood in one of the Cossack stanitsa. In the evenings the officers were playing cards. One day during the game a conversation about fate began: is a man predestined to die?

One of the officers - a passionate gambler and fatalist, Vulich - offered to test fate.

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Vulich — Officer, Pechorin's fellow officer, tall swarthy brunette, reserved, gambling, cold-blooded, courageous.

On a dare, he picked up a pistol at random, at which point Pechorin thought he saw the stamp of death in Vulich's eyes. Vulich shot himself in the temple - there was a misfire, but the gun was loaded. Pechorin did not understand why he still felt that Vulich must die today.

Often there is some strange imprint of inevitable destiny on the face of a man who is to die in a few hours, so that it is difficult for the habitual eyes to mistake.

In the morning Pechorin was informed that Vulich had been hacked to death by a drunken Cossack with a sword. He realized that he had unwittingly predicted the unfortunate officer's fate.

The murdering Cossack had locked himself in his hut, and had no intention of surrendering, threatening to shoot. Pechorin decided, like Vulich, to try his fate. He got into the house through the window - the Cossack shot, but only touched Pechorin's epaulettes. The Cossack was arrested and taken away, and Pechorin was honored as a true hero.

Pechorin told Maksim Maksimych about what had happened, but he did not believe in fate.