Translated by a revolutionary woman

LERMONTOV, Mikhail Iurievitch

The Hero of Our Days, from the Russian of Michael Lermontoff, by Theresa Pulszky

Publication: Thomas Hodgson, London, 1854.

LERMONTOV, Mikhail Iurievitch, The Hero of Our Days, from the Russian of Michael Lermontoff, by Theresa Pulszky

Lermontov translated by a friend of Herzen and wife of a Hungarian revolutionary. First edition of this translation.

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Early English translation of the Lermontov’s most famous work, and the first major Russian novel translated into English.

Written in 1839 and first published in 1840, “The Hero of Our Days” recounts a series of adventures of the melancholic army officer Pechorin during his travels in the Caucasus. Lermontov ingeniously paints a satirical portrait of a “superfluous man”, which echoes the Byronic antiheroes of the earlier part of the nineteenth century. Unsurprisingly, the Pechorin’s character served as an inspiration for later masterpieces of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

The first English translation of “The Hero of Our Days” was published in 1853 under the title “Sketches of Russian Life in the Caucasus”. In it, an anonymous translator introduced extensive changes to the text, adding flourishes of plot, changing names and omitting several important parts. Two further translations, published only a few weeks apart, followed in 1854 – a full translation of the novel by another anonymous translator, and this translation by Theresa Pulszky, a wife of the famous Hungarian revolutionary Ferenc Pulszky.

Pulszky’s translation, which is likely to have been incentivised by the close friend of the Pulszky family Alexander Herzen, is the first English language edition to have an attributed translator.

Like all Russian literature in translations from this period, the edition is scarce: WorldCat locates seven copies in institutions worldwide (only two in the US: Harvard and NYPL).

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Physical Description

Small 8vo. 232 pages.


Contemporary dark green half calf, red morocco gilt spine label, marbled edges.


Binding a bit rubbed; a bit of foxing at beginning and end, very occasional elsewhere, bound without half-title.

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