A Hero of Our Time


  • "My whole life has been merely a succession of miserable and unsuccessful denials of feelings or reason."
  • "...I am not capable of close friendship: of two close friends, one is always the slave of the other, although frequently neither of them will admit it. I cannot be a slave, and to command in such circumstances is a tiresome business, because one must deceive at the same time."
  • "Afraid of decision, I buried my finer feelings in the depths of my heart and they died there."
  • "It is difficult to convince women of something; one must lead them to believe that they have convinced themselves."
  • "What of it? If I die, I die. It will be no great loss to the world, and I am thoroughly bored with life. I am like a man yawning at a ball; the only reason he does not go home to bed is that his carriage has not arrived yet."
  • "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?"
  • "Women! Women! Who will understand them? Their smiles contradict their glances, their words promise and lure, while the sound of their voices drives us away. One minute they comprehend and divine our most secret thoughts, and the next, they do not understand the clearest hints."
  • "There are two men within me – one lives in the full sense of the word, the other reflects and judges him. In an hour's time the first may be leaving you and the world for ever, and the second? ... the second? ..."
  • "To cause another person suffering or joy, having no right to so—isn't that the sweetest food of our pride? What is happiness but gratified pride?"
  • "I'll hazard my life, even my honor, twenty times, but I will not sell my freedom. Why do I value it so much? What am I preparing myself for? What do I expect from the future? in fact, nothing at all."
  • Grushnitski (to Pechorin): "Mon cher, je haïs les hommes pour ne pas les mépriser car autrement la vie serait une farce trop dégoûtante." ("My friend, I hate people to avoid despising them because otherwise, life would become too disgusting a farce.")
  • Pechorin (replying to Grushnitski): "Mon cher, je méprise les femmes pour ne pas les aimer car autrement la vie serait un mélodrame trop ridicule" ("My friend, I despise women to avoid loving them because otherwise, life would become too ridiculous a melodrama.")
  • "Passions are merely ideas in their initial stage."
  • "I was prepared to love the whole world . . . I learned to hate."
  • "Whether I am a fool or a villain I know not; but this is certain, I am also most deserving of pity – perhaps more so than she. My soul has been spoiled by the world, my imagination is unquiet, my heart insatiate. To me everything is of little moment. I have become as easily accustomed to grief as to joy, and my life grows emptier day by day."
  • "That is just like human beings! They are all alike; though fully aware in advance of all the evil aspects of a deed, they aid and abet and even give their approbation to it when they see there is no other way out—and then they wash their hands of it and turn away with disapproval from him who dared assume the full burden of responsibility. They are all alike, even the kindest and wisest of them!"
  • "Women love only the men they don't know."

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