Feature: A Hero of Our Time

The Caucasian Mineral Waters region is haunted by the Romantic writer Mikhail Lermontov, whose tale ‘Princess Mary’, from his novel A Hero of Our Time, is set here. In an uncanny echo of the novel’s plot, Lermontov was killed in a duel at Pyatigorsk in 1841.

Lermontov was banished twice from his native St Petersburg to serve in the army in Pyatigorsk: first, after blaming the tsarist authorities for the death in a duel of another ‘troublesome’ writer, Pushkin; and second, for himself duelling. Lermontov was challenged once again in Pyatigorsk for jesting about the clothes of one Major Martynov. Firing first, Lermontov aimed into the air but was in return shot through the heart. Many saw his death, like Pushkin’s, as orchestrated by the authorities.

Many places in Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk are linked to the man and his fiction, and a visit to the superb Lermontov Museum in Pyatigorsk is essential.