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Oblomov (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Ivan Goncharov , David Magarshack , Milton Ehre
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

31 Mar 2005 Penguin Classics
Ilya Ilyich Oblomov is a member of Russia's dying aristocracy - a man so lazy that he has given up his job in the Civil Service, neglected his books, insulted his friends and found himself in debt. Too apathetic to do anything about his problems, he lives in a grubby, crumbling apartment, waited on by Zakhar, his equally idle servant. Terrified by the bustle and activity necessary to participate in the real world, Oblomov manages to avoid work, postpone change and - finally - risks losing the love of his life. 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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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (31 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449877
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"The combination of Goncharov's edits and Schwartz's translation left me thumbing back to the copyright page to confirm 1862, not 1962, as this translation sparkles with contemporary lyricism and humor."--Karen Vanuska, "Quarterly Conversation"--Quarterly Conversation --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ivan Goncharov (1812-1891) Russian writer, is best-known for his humorous novel OBLOMOV (1859), a leading work in Russian Realism.

Milton Ehre is Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. Among his publications are Oblomov and His Creator: The Life and Art of Ivan Goncharov, Isaac Babel, translations of the plays of Gogol and Chekhov and poems by Anna Akhmatova.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ILYa Ilyich ObLomov was lying in bed one morning in his flat in Gorokhovaya Street in one of those large houses which have as many inhabitants as a country town. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laziness and indecision as an art form 13 July 2005
By Colin C
Format:Paperback
This is one of my favourite novels, and one of the very finest of the golden age of Russian literature in the nineteenth century, up there with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.
Goncharov only wrote a handful of books (3 novels and a travelogue), and of these Oblomov is by far the best (although his final novel, The Precipice is under-rated and of interest too). Oblomov is the simple story of a nobleman in Tsarist Russia who has plenty of opportunities for success in love and life, but who finds it very difficult to take them - or indeed to do anything decisive at all other than laze around.
Oblomov seems to embody potential unfulfilled and a stubborn to change and take on new ideas, and he has been seen by many as a metaphor for pre-revolution Russia. 'Oblomovism' has apparently become a common term in Russia, meaning, of course, procrastination or inaction.
Amazingly for a book about seemingly so little, Oblomov glides by, perhaps because it is so well written. This is a singular and fascinating novel, with some stunningly detailed and well drawn characters. It may be of a very different style to most modern books, but I wuld strongly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars strange cover art 12 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a superb novel, do not misunderstand me; but what intrigues me is Penguins strange decision to put a painting of Garshin (an even more superb writer) by Ilya Repin on the cover; a bit like putting an Hank Williams picture on an Elvis Presley album.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad and hilarious tale of a slothful nobleman 25 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful story of an extremely lazy and kind-hearted nobleman who sees his life and only love waste away before his eyes, but cannot bring himself to act to prevent it. It is a delightful evocation of the comical and melancholy life on a Russian estate and a sad and gripping portrait of a good man undone by his own lethargy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of indolent beauty. 11 Nov 2010
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Oblomov left me sobbing towards its conclusion, a reaction I did not anticipate at the outset. I found that as the story progressed I became more and more engrossed in a character, whose initial chaotic presentation consisted of lying around lazily in his room, mainly sleeping, often shouting at his servant, entertaining uninvited guests, eating and drinking. Oblomov the absent landowner appears broke, on the verge of eviction from his city apartment and hounded by indecision. Then comes the dream, wherein Oblomov's character gently coalesces into that of a child hopelessly romanticising those halcyon days of innocence. Thereafter Oblomov, the man/child, after much prompting from his childhood friend, departs his immediate surroundings, meets Olga and the rest is poetry.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet like? 21 May 2009
By DB
Format:Paperback
"To be or not to be, that is the question!.."
The famous words, the famous direction of philosophising. Oblomov, just like Hamlet, answers "No", but in a different way. "What is the point in keeping up with the Joneses, improving tyre factory efficiency by 0.5%, producing pointless generic rubbish that many people devote their life to, how does it all relate to the ideal of human nature?" : asks Oblomov. Ultimate honesty rejects vanity of such pursuits, but ... what fills the resulting vacuum?

Sorrow and death. Oblomov gives up his humanistic ideals and lives out his life like an oyster - consuming and displacing, maintaining physical comfortableness/peace of his own environment. Driven to achieve simple animal pleasure "in the moment" (postponing distressing things) he achieves sorrow in his mental "life as a whole".

This sorrow of Oblomov may well be "the truth"- if there is no point of life then what is the point of striving? Shtolz- Oblomov's friend and his complete opposite- does not provide us with an answer; but maybe gives us a hint towards it. The ideal of human nature may not be knowledge of some facts (these are impenetrable), but only in striving towards that knowledge. Striving=human nature=happiness.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and deep 12 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
4.5 stars. This is classic Russian literature (nearly) at its best. I didn't notice any typos and the translation (as far as I can tell) is excellent, since there was never any confusion or odd wording. The characters are very well-drawn and the story was never boring, even though there are plenty of long passages with very little going on. I could identify strongly with some of the characters and have a lot of respect for the author's psychological insight into different types of people. The introduction is informative and interesting without giving too much of the book away, as is usually the case. It mentions that the book was written in different stages, over a long period of time, and this can be seen in the writing. There was something I didn't like about the story, towards the end, which is why I have given it a half star less, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I think it has something to do with inconsistency on the part of one of the main characters, or perhaps only the incomplete portrayal of the same. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend this book to lovers of the genre, and to those who like their books with a healthy dose of analytical insight into the human condition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oblomov 2 Jun 2013
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
Ilya Ilich Oblomov is a nobleman with worries, when we first meet him. Firstly, he is being asked to move apartment - when he can scarcely be bothered to leave his couch. Secondly, his baliff has written, asking him to return to the countryside and deal with problems on his family estate. For Oblomov, despite his inertia, is the owner of 350 souls - a landowner and a member of the nobility. However, he has gone from a spoilt and lazy child to a man is simply unable to rouse himself to deal with the smallest problem. Living in dirt and decay with his lazy servant Zakhar, he makes plans, but fails always to carry them out.

During this novel, it is fair to say that not much happens. Oblomov worries a lot, he sleeps more, he argues with his servant and he thinks about the future. His friend, Stolz, tries his best to rouse him from his inertia and other 'friends' use him. However, despite the lack of action, this is an absolutely riveting, and beautifully written, novel. In some ways, of course, Oblomov is an object lesson for the problems with pre-revolutionary Russia; when the nobility were often absent from their estates, which were left in the hands of others to run, and living indolent and frivolous lives. As Stolz tells him, "It all began with your inability to put on your own stockings and ended with your inability to live."

Stolz is the son of Oblomov's teacher, who has known him as a boy and who understands his way of life. Maligned by many characters as the son of a German, he is everything Oblomov is not - industrious, capable and organised. He does his best to help Oblomov get out of his rut of utter inactivity and take control of his life. Through him, Oblomov meets Olga, and the possibility of love, and even marriage, is raised.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew indolence could be so charming?
Let me give you a little insight into my reviewing habits. It is a Sunday afternoon, and I settle down on the sofa fully intending to write a book review. But wait! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars The masterpiece of sloth
This is a difficult book to categorise and summarise. It one way it is easy to sum up: essentially it is the tale of a lazy rich man, who through pure slothfulness achieves nothing... Read more
Published 10 months ago by R. Newton
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously short-changed
This Kindle edition contains LESS THAN ONE THIRD of the text of the novel - my Russian edition has 470 pages, the Kindle text only 140. Whole chapters are missing, e.g. Read more
Published 13 months ago by RF Esher
4.0 out of 5 stars The power of inertia
A book which deserves to be better known in this country. It presents a character who is affluent enough not to need to be active, but one whose life is stultified by his... Read more
Published 16 months ago by dorothy mary collins D M Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort?
For me this Oblomov represented two books. One turgid and tedious, the other transcendental and beautiful. Read more
Published 22 months ago by GT4000
2.0 out of 5 stars Gave up at page 100
As I said in the title of this review, I gave up after 100 pages, so this is naturally an incomplete review. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2011 by Mr. R. J. Jakeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Oblomov for the 21st Century
Well, this is a great novel. I started this a few times over a period of about three years and couldn't quite get into it so it sat on my book shelf waiting patiently until this... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2011 by Jacko the Monkey
4.0 out of 5 stars Life For Nothing
Goncharov asks the universal questions "what is life and why are we here?" in this quite sublime and ethereal exposition of a man (Oblomov) who is too lazy and apathetic save for... Read more
Published on 22 Aug 2008 by demola
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