Mikhail Lermontov's literary heroes were Aleksandr Pushkin and Lord Byron. Lord Byron's influence on Lermontov's writings is very apparent in A Hero of Our Time. Lermontov crafts Pechorin, the novel's main character, as a Byronic Hero. Lord Byron created the Byronic Hero because he grew bored with the romantic hero that pervaded many of his contemporaries' works. He felt that the romantic hero was too psychologically simplistic.
Many critics and readers consider the Byronic Hero to be a self-portrait of Lord Byron. The archetype has many of Lord Byron's strengths and vices. A Byronic Hero is astute, alluring, self-destructive, selfish, and very critical of his society. Lord Byron was as known for his intelligence, as well as his sexual exploits. Rumors about his love life eventually forced him to flee England.
Although Lord Byron was a poet whom Lermontov admired, literary critics argue over Lermontov's intentions behind constructing Pechorin as a Byronic Hero. Many critics from Lermontov's period believed he created Pechorin to champion the Byronic Hero. Critics from later centuries (including this century) assert the opposite. They believe that Lermontov employs Pechorin to denounce the Byronic Hero. They use the Preface in A Hero of Our Time to support their claim. In the Preface, Lermontov asserts that Pechorin represents a generation and its vices.
Despite the ambiguity behind Lermontov's employment of the Byronic Hero in A Hero of Our Time, Lord Byron is someone whom Lermontov revered. Lermontov most likely gravitated towards the poet because of their similar backgrounds. They both lost contact with their fathers at very young ages. Certain relatives bestowed great wealth upon them at early ages, and this wealth corrupted them in many ways. Also, both Lord Byron and Lermontov had physical ailments. Lermontov references Lord Byron's deformed foot in A Hero of Our Time.