A Hero of Our Time, part 14: In What Spirit Pechorin Faces Death

“Have you made your will?” Werner asked all of a sudden.

“No.”

“What if you are killed?”

“The heirs will turn up themselves.”

“Have you no friends to whom you would wish to send your last farewell?”

I shook my head.

“Is there no woman in the world to whom you would want to leave something to remember you by?”

“Do you want me to lay bare my soul to you, doctor?” I replied. “You see, I’m past the age when people die with the names of their beloved on their lips and bequeath a lock of pomaded, or unpomaded, hair to a friend. When I think of imminent and possible death, I think only of myself; some do not even do that. Friends, who will forget me tomorrow, or, worse still, who will weave God knows what fantastic yarns about me; and women, who in the embrace of another man will laugh at me in order that he might not be jealous of the departed–what do I care for them? From life’s turmoil I’ve drawn a few ideas, but no feeling. For a long time now I have been living by my reason, not my heart. I weigh and analyze my own emotions and actions with stern curiosity, but without sympathy. There are two men in me–one lives in the full sense of the word, the other reasons and passes judgment on the first. The first will perhaps take leave of you and the world forever in an hour now; and the second . . . the second? Look, doctor, do you see the three dark figures on the cliff to the right? I believe those are our adversaries.”

—————————

This posture towards oneself – that “there are two men in me–one lives in the full sense of the word, the other reasons and passes judgment on the first” – is disturbingly resonant today.

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About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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One Response to A Hero of Our Time, part 14: In What Spirit Pechorin Faces Death

  1. Pingback: A Hero of Our Time: Introduction | Pechorin

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