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Oblomov is the Russian novel by Ivan Goncharov, first published in 1859, which poses the question:  what if a man was so lazy that he could do nothing?

Nobody does psychological insight like nineteenth-century Russian novelists. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Chekhov and Turgenev liked to take characters and pass them under the microscope of analysis and evaluation.

Not for them the dash and flash plotting of Zola or Balzac; the Russians settle down with one or two characters and peel away their layers as if they were onions.

One of the best examples of this is Oblomov. Set at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when idleness was still viewed by Russia’s serf-owning rural gentry as a worthy goal, Oblomov follows the travails of an unlikely hero, an aristocrat incapable of ever making a decision.

He spends the first third of the book shambling around his apartment in a robe and slippers, and lounging on his sofa. When he does finally get dressed it is only because his best friend has insisted upon it.

Indolent, inattentive, incurious, given to daydreaming and procrastination, Oblomov clearly predates the industrious modern man, yet he is impossible not to admire by virtue of Goncharov’s masterful prose.

Today, Oblomov is regarded as a classic satire of Russian nobility whose social and economic value was increasingly distrusted in mid-nineteenth century Russia.

IVAN GONCHAROV (1812-1891) was a major Russian novelist best known for his novels A Common Story, Oblomov, and The Precipice.


"Ivan Goncharov is ten heads above me in talent.”

—Anton Chekhov


 “Oblomov is a truly great work, the likes of which one has not seen for a long, long time. I am in rapture over Oblomov and keep rereading it.”

—Leo Tolstoy


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