Diary – Reading A Hero of Our Time

Suffering a brain haemorrhage and a head injury that leaves you with double vison and the inability to concentrate on the written word, all be it temporarily, is probably the worse things that can happen to a writer and photographer. Let’s face it here is only so much Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip that one person can stand in a month.
Recovery is slow and the continuing double vision has rather stymied the photography but now the brain can handle longer sentences I am back reading again. I have recently completed the advanced creative writing module of an open university course and my final assignment was to complete the first 4000 words of a novel. During the assignment my tutor suggested that I read the first 4000 words or 20 novels; a task that slowed down the writing but hopefully improved the standard.
Occasionally I meet writers who claim not to be readers but having the completed two creative writing modules and read or spoken to a lot of writers the most common piece of advice is to read. Not just your favourite genre but everything – good and bad.
I recently watched the Bolshoi ballet’s production of A Hero of Our Time as a live broadcast in Cinema City in Norwich. This mesmerizing production led me to seek out a copy of Mikhail Lermontov’s original book (translated by Vladimir and Dimitri Nabokov).
Originally published in 1840 A Hero of Our Time recounts the adventures of a Russian military officer Pechorin as he travels through the Caucuses as told through other traveller’s notes and his personal journals. Pechorin has been described as a Byronic antihero whose cynical, nihilistic attitude manifests itself in the emotional manipulation he works on others, especially women. Thia stems from a sense of boredom and being a ‘superfluous man’ (Winter 2010). A concept that is still relevant to todays world.

 A Hero of Our Time (Penguin Books) on Amazon. It might also be worth checking for used copies.

You can also find the whole thing free online if you are either too mean to buy a copy and/or are able to stomach reading 100,000 words on you lap top or tablet.


There is a review of the Bolshoi’s original production here

Anna Winter’s review of the book June 27th 2010 The Guardian

3 thoughts on “Diary – Reading A Hero of Our Time

  1. Some of the books I read or re read the first 4000 words of:

    Sebastian Faulkes. (2008) Engleby, Vintage Books.

    Graham Greene. (1962) The End of an Affair, Penguin Books

    V.S Naipaul. (2001) Half a Life, Picador

    Ali Smith. (2005) The Accidental, Penguin Books

    Andrew M. Hurley. (2014) The Loney, John Murray

    Peter Hoeg (1992) Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow Harvill Press

    Paula Hawkin (2015) The Girl on the Train Penguin

    Marina Lewycka (2006) a Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian Penguin Books

    Sebastian Faulkes (1989) The Girl at the Lion D’Or Vintage.

    Charlotte Bronte (edition 1993) Villette Wordsworth Classics

    Paul Coelho (2003) Eleven Minutes Harper Collins

    All of which I would recommend reading in full.

    1. Albeit is formed in English by compounding the etymons all, be, it, (OED) so I would argue their use is not nonsensical, old fashioned and not correct, yes. It looks like I will have to improve my proof reading – I’ll blame to bang on the head.

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