Lermontov’s novel A Hero Of Our Time, the source of my name, contains some perceptive observations on women, and a remarkable compelling portrait of the what a history of meaningless relationships, and a generalized nihilism do to a man. Its main character Pechorin was suspected to be a portrait of Lermontov himself – a claim to which Lermontov replied in his introduction:
“A Hero of Our Time, my dear readers, is indeed a portrait, but not of one man. It is a portrait built up of all our generation’s vices in full bloom. You will again tell me that a human being cannot be so wicked, and I will reply that if you can believe in the existence of all the villains of tragedy and romance, why wouldn’t believe that there was a Pechorin? If you could admire far more terrifying and repulsive types, why aren’t you more merciful to this character, even if it is fictitious? Isn’t it because there’s more truth in it than you might wish?
You say that morality will gain nothing by it. Excuse me. People have been fed so much candy they are sick to their stomachs. Now bitter medicine and acid truths are needed. But don’t ever think that the author of this book was ever ambitious enough to dream about reforming human vices. May God preserve him from such foolishness! It simply amused him to picture the modern man as he sees him and as he so often–to his own and your own misfortune–has found him to be. It’s enough that the disease has been diagnosed–how to cure it only the Lord knows!”