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Ivan Goncharov
publisher: , 1859

translated as:
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1992
translation: Natalie Duddington

refered to by:
War and Peace
Leo N. Tolstoy

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Oblomov is the name of Ivan Goncharov's most famous novel. Oblomov is also the central character of the novel, often seen as the ultimate incarnation of the 'superfluous man', a stereotypical character in 19th-century Russian literature that was wildly popular when the book was first published in Russia. Oblomov was compared to Shakespeare's Hamlet as answering 'No!' to the question 'To be or not to be?'. Oblomov is a young, generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Throughout the novel he rarely leaves his room or bed. The book was considered a satire of Russian aristocrats that no longer played a useful part in society in mid-nineteenth century Russia.

The novel centers around a midlife crisis for the main character, an upper middle class son of a member of Russia's nineteenth century merchant class. Oblomov's most distinguishing characteristic is his slothful attitude towards life. While seeming a negative characteristic, Oblomov raises this trait to an art form.
While seeming to be the dull and boring life of a government civil servant the caricature painted by Goncharov that takes 150 pages to get out of bed is full of complexity and an examination of many issues that faced Russian society in the nineteenth century. Some of these issues include the uselessness of landowners and gentry in a feudal society that did not encourage innovation or reform, the complex relations between members of different classes of society such as Oblomov's relationship with his servant Zakhar.

As the story develops Oblomov falls in love with a young woman, Olga, but his apathy is too great and he cannot surmount his laziness to press his amourous feelings towards the woman to win her heart permanently.
After he rejects the possibility of marrying her his confidant and old school friend the half German and pragmatic Schtoltz takes her from him. Oblomov ends up marrying Agafia Pshenitsina, a widow. They have a son, and when Oblomov dies, his friend Schtoltz adopts him. Oblomov's life ends as he sinks further into ruin and dies a victim of the disease of Oblomovka.


bookweb from:
Lezen&Cetera, Pieter Steinz

Written with sympathetic humour and compassion, Oblomov made Goncharov famous throughout Russia on its publication in 1859, as readers saw in this story of a man whose defining characteristic is indolence, the portrait of an entire class in decline.
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The Ledge
editor-in-chief: Stacey Knecht,
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