Part Two: I "Taman"

Part Two: "Pechorin's Journal: Foreword"

The second part of the novel begins with a short explanation by the author / narrator of why he has published parts of somebody else's private journal. He says that he has done so because he believes that the story of a man's soul "can be more interesting and instructive than the story of a whole nation." He also says that he has chosen to confine himself to publishing episodes from Pechorin's time in the Caucasus, although he is in possession of another thick book in which Pechorin gives his whole life story and which he intends to publish later. This strongly suggests that Lermontov himself may originally have intended to write a second novel with Pechorin as its hero.

Part Two: I "Taman"

"Taman", an episode from Pechorin's journal steeped in demonic and particularly romantic imagery, tells the story of two nights spent by the hero in the seaside fishing town of Taman, which is situated on the Russian side of the Kirch straits, which separate Ukraine from Russia at the meeting point of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

Pechorin arrives in Taman late one night with his Cossack batman looking for a lodging for the night. He is told there is only one possibility, but that it is "unwholesome". However, with no other options he accepts and is taken to a hut right by the sea. Here, he is met by a young blind boy who tells him that the mistress of the house is away. Both Pechorin and his man settle down to sleep, but the former is restless and an hour or so later, seeing the blind boy go past outside with a bundle, he decides to follow him at a distance. The boy goes easily across the rocks to the beach where he meets a woman. Shortly afterwards a solitary oarsman in a small boat approaches on the almost impossibly rough sea and lands by the boy and woman. All three then lift heavy bundles out of the boat and walk off. Pechorin returns to the hut uneasy.

The next morning Pechorin is told by the commandant of the town's fort that it may be three days until he can get a boat out of the town. Pechorin's Cossack then tells how he met a friend who repeated the verdict that their lodgings were unwholesome and expressed doubts and fears about the blind boy and the woman of the house. Returning to the house they find the boy and old woman, but when Pechorin asks the boy what he had been doing the night before he bursts into tears and denies any knowledge and Pechorin is rebuked by the woman for picking on him. Sitting outside the house later Pechorin sees a girl singing on the roof of the house and seems to recognise the voice from the beach the night before.

The girl hangs round the hero all day and he confronts her with what he saw the night before, but she just brushes off his veiled accusation and then later that evening kisses him and tells him to meet her on the beach after everyone is asleep. He does so and they get in to a small boat. She embraces him again, but throws his pistol overboard as she does so and then tries to throw him in after it, however, Pechorin manages to overcome her and throw her in. He then rows with half an oar back to shore. While returning to the hut he sees the girl who has also made it to land. Shortly the boy and the boatman, Yanko, appear. Yanko takes the girl off in the boat with him and tells the boy that he does not care what he does to look after himself now. The boy sits and cries and Pechorin returns to the hut to find that his box, sabre and dagger have been stolen, presumably by the boy to give to Yanko. That morning a ship arrives in the harbour and Pechorin leaves Taman gladly.

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