Oblomov: A Novel

Ivan Goncharov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say about this book that other reviewers haven’t? Don’t know, so I guess I’ll just write what stood out to me.

Oblomov went from funny to pathetic to inspiring to sad to heartsick to pathetic again and ended on awe-inspiring. A lot of this is because I can see so much of Oblomov in me. I like retreating into my little safe cocoon of an apartment with my books or computer. Not a big fan of large groups of people. I don’t like other people knowing intimate details of my life. I hate doing things spur of the moment. New situations make me uncomfortable. I’d much rather prefer other people to take care of problems I don’t understand [just ask my mechanic!].

But, we also differ. Oblomov had a very twisted view of what life should be like. Work was an evil to be avoided at all costs. Effort was Evil and Komfort was King. [like the alliteration? I trust my sacrifice of grammar will be appreciated]
Oblomov resided in a world that he created in his imagination and when the real world didn’t conform to that idea, he was thrown into the pit of despair and gave in to sloth and apathy.

When I first started reading, I was amused by the banter and back and forth between Oblomov and his servant Zakar. The verbal sparring, the bouts of temper and fits of sulkiness on both sides. Then we see more of how Oblomov has retreated from life by how he interacts with other friends. It takes too much effort to resist Tarantyev, so he goes along with just about anything he suggests. Other friends suggest, cajole, insinuate, etc but all to no avail as Oblomov has no higher ambition than to recline on his couch and relax. It was getting to the point where I was wondering if Oblomov had ANY redeeming qualities that weren’t destroyed by his apathy and sloth.

Then along comes the girl. Oblomov falls in love. He strives. He struggles. You can see the blood beginning to burn once again in his veins. He is becoming the man promised in his youth. Plan are not only talked about, but action is taken. Life is Grand and Love is Supreme.

Hark, what is this? Oblovomitis has crept back in. It has poisoned his thoughts. Oblomov goes back to living in a world he has created in his head. And the girl is not enough. And so he sinks back below even the levels we found him at in the beginning. Let this be a warning to all who think that someone or something else can be the sole instrument of their change. Change must start on the inside.

A strange, to me, interlude ensues where the girls marries someone else and we see how they live and grow closer to eachother and how their lives work. And we find out that Oblomov dies of a heart attack from over eating and lack of exercise.

At the end of the book, Oblomov’s friend is visiting the grave and he whispers about Oblomov, A wasted life.

This book was entertaining, uplifting, inspiring and overall, a warning. Nothing is better than Melancholic Russian Literature!

7 thoughts on “Oblomov

  1. Oblomov is well worth reading, definitely. It has 4* on my Goodreads, but I’ve read it long ago and don’t remember enough to go into details. What I do remember is I wasn’t that harsh on the main protagonist. I definitely have a lot of Oblomov in me, and being a Polish reader influenced how I saw the society he could have been active in… probably that’s why my favourite XIX-cent. Russian novel is “Dead Souls” by Gogol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should mention having lots of Oblomov in you.

      when I told my brother about the plot, he just looked at me and grinned and said “so, they wrote a book about you?” We both had a good laugh.

      Hmmm, have not read Dead Souls. Haven’t read a russian classic in while so I should add one to the old tbr. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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