Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pechorin, Hero of Our Time

I have a guest post over at the Imaginative Conservative on Mihail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time--more specifically, on Pechorin, the titular character.
I gather that the title character, Pechorin, is or was something of a Holden Caulfield in Russia--the character with whom moody adolescents identify when they wish to cast their hormonal immaturity as the existential crisis of a Complex Personality. Even though, and also because, he is essentially a fool and a brute dressed up as a fatalist, Pechorin fascinates me.

Pechorin the modern hero: undaunted by fear but not, of course, noble or genuinely courageous; witty and provocative; competent; equally skilled in entertaining either the ladies of society or the soldiers when he fancies; following no fancy or standard but his own; wealthy, skilled, and widely read.

He is, as I say, modernly heroic, or is it heroically modern?--which is to say that pervading all his aforementioned qualities is a pathetic and empty windbag. He ruins lives on a whim and then bemoans, seemingly without irony, the cruel fate that has made him a home-wrecker. He is Jimmy McNulty (of HBO's The Wire), serving nothing and no one but himself, and when his appetites earn him the fury of others, he asks, "...**** did I do?"
Read the rest.