Book//mark – A Hero of Our Time | Mikhail Lermontov, 1840

Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841)                                                     Cover: Edward Gorey ‘A Hero of Our Time’ (1958)

“I must say a little more about his eyes. In the first place, they never laughed when he laughed.
Have you ever noticed this peculiarity some people have? It is either a sign of an evil
nature or of a profound and lasting sorrow.”

“I was ready to love the whole world, but no one understood me, and I learned to hate.”

“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? …”

“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.”

“My soul has been impaired by the fashionable world, I have a restless fancy, an insatiable
heart; whatever I get is not enough; I become used as easily to sorrow as delight, and my
life becomes more empty day by day; there is only one remedy left for me: to travel.”

“I have a congenital desire to contradict; my whole life is merely a chain of sad and unsuccessful
contradictions to heart and mind. When faced with enthusiasm, I am seized by a midwinter
freeze, and I suppose that frequent dealings with sluggish phlegmatics would have made
a passionate dreamer.”

“My love brought happiness to none, because I never gave up anything for the sake of those
whom I loved. I loved for myself, for my proper pleasure; I merely satisfied a bizarre need
of my heart, avidly consuming their sentiments, their tenderness, their joys and sufferings
— and never could have my fill.”

“I am like a sailor, born and bred on the deck of a pirate ship. His soul has got used to storms
and battles, and, when thrown ashore, he pines and languishes as much as the shady groves
beckon him, much as the peaceful sun shines at him. He walks along the coastal sands all
day, listening to the monotonous murmur of the lapping waves and peering into the cloudy
distance: is that the sail he seeks, on the pale line that separates the blue deep from the little
gray storm clouds—at first resembling the wing of a seagull, but little by little, separating
from the foam of the boulders, with a steady approach toward the deserted jetty…”

“We almost always forgive those we understand. ”

Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time, 1840 
 Translated by Vladimir Nabokov
“Το προαίσθημα μου ποτέ δεν με γελάει. Δεν υπάρχει άνθρωπος στον κόσμο που το παρελθόν
να τον εξουσιάζει τόσο όσο εμένα. Η παραμικρή μνήμη λύπης ή χαράς πλήττει οδυνηρά
την ψυχή μου και παράγει πάντα τον ίδιο ήχο…Αυτή είναι η ηλίθια κατασκευή μου:
τίποτε δεν ξεχνάω, τίποτε!”
Mikhail Lermontov, Ένας ήρωας του καιρού μας, 1840 
μτφ: Κατερίνα Αγγελάκη-Ρουκ

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