This great Russian classic is set in the Caucasus during the reign of Tsar Nicholas I. Its Byronic anti-hero, Grigory Pechorin, is the prototype of the "superfluous man," often met in other Russian novels. A person of great ability, intelligence and charm, Pechorin can find no real outlet for his talents and becomes bitter, cynical and bored. He takes pleasure in manipulating others and inflicting pain. Not a political novel in any direct sense, A Hero of Our Time serves as an oblique criticism of the stifling world created by Russia’s autocratic system.