A Hero of Our Time

Cultural references

Albert Camus' novel The Fall begins with an excerpt from Lermontov's foreword to A Hero of Our Time: "Some were dreadfully insulted, and quite seriously, to have held up as a model such an immoral character as A Hero of Our Time; others shrewdly noticed that the author had portrayed himself and his acquaintances. A Hero of Our Time, gentlemen, is in fact a portrait, but not of an individual; it is the aggregate of the vices of our whole generation in their fullest expression."

In Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love the plot revolves upon Soviet agent Tatiana Romanova feigning an infatuation with MI6's James Bond and offering to defect to the West provided he'll be sent to pick her up in Istanbul, Turkey. The Soviets elaborate a complex backstory about how she spotted the file about the English spy during her clerical work at SMERSH headquarters and became smitten with him, making her state that his picture made her think of Lermontov's Pechorin. The fact that Pechorin was all but a 'hero' or even a positive character at all in Lermontov's narration stands to indicate Fleming's wry self-deprecating wit about his most famous creation; the irony is lost, however, on western readers not familiar with Lermontov's work.

In Ingmar Bergman's film The Silence, the young son is seen reading the book in bed. In the opening sequence of Bergman's next film Persona the same child actor is seen waking in what appears to be a mortuary and reaching for the same book.

Claude Sautet's film A Heart in Winter (Un Coeur en Hiver) was said to be based on "his memories of" the Princess Mary section. The relationship with Lermontov's work is quite loose – the film takes place in contemporary Paris, where a young violin repairer (played by Daniel Auteuil) seeks to seduce his business partner’s girlfriend, a gifted violinist named Camille, into falling for his carefully contrived charms. He does this purely for the satisfaction of gaining control of her emotionally, while never loving her sincerely. He is a modern day Pechorin.

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