First published in 1859, Oblomov is an indisputable classic of Russian literature, comparable in its stature to such masterpieces as Gogol’s Dead Souls, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. The book centres on the figure of Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, a member of the dying class of the landed gentry, who spends most of his time lying in bed gazing at life in an apathetic daze, encouraged by his equally lazy servant Zakhar and routinely swindled by his acquaintances. But this torpid existence comes to an end when, spurred on by his crumbling finances, the love of a woman and the reproaches of his friend, the hard-working Stoltz, Oblomov finds that he must engage with the real world and face up to his commitments.
Rich in situational comedy, psychological complexity and social satire, Oblomov – here presented in Stephen Pearl’s award-winning translation, the first major English-language version of the novel in more than fifty years – is a timeless novel and a monument to human idleness.
Goncharov is ten heads above me in talent.
Pearl’s approach is more adventurous than that of his predecessors. His text flows naturally, capturing Goncharov’s carefully modulated tone, the gentleness of his humour and the colloquial flavour of his dialogue … Stephen Pearl has indeed caught the very essence of Oblomov.
I am in rapture over Oblomov and keep rereading it.
Ivan Goncharov (1812–91) was a Russian official, novelist, critic and travel writer, who is best remembered for his masterpiece Oblomov.