Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and deep, 12 Jan 2011
This review is from: Oblomov (Penguin Classics) (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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Showing 1-10 of 1553 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jan 2011 16:57:52 GMT
monica says:
I see you're still going all Slavic.

I too identified, and completely, with one of the characters; unfortunately, it was the title character.

Thanks for a review that will have me looking more closely at the bit towards the end.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2011 18:57:36 GMT
Blackbeard says:
Hi Monica. I have to admit that I identified most closely with Oblomov as well, also unfortunately. I have already forgotten the "German"'s name, who I also identified with to a certain degree, but he was the one I found a problem with. Both him and the girl actually, and specifically their conversation and subsequent attitudes towards the end when she shows him Oblomov's letter. I didn't like the reasoning and I didn't think it suited the characters (or the reasoning suited him but his feelings did not). I think this also may have been the point when I felt that the story lost its continuity. Still very good though. The book I'm reading now is not Slavic, but it is slow going. I see you've become quite the popular reviewer:).

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2011 19:44:05 GMT
monica says:
Thanks again for review, as because of it once again I've got Oblomov down from shelf. Only book I've read more than 1/2 way through, twice, thoroughly enjoyed, and stopped reading for no reason except presumably my subconscious found it too close to the bone.

It's embarrassing. I remember your asking about reviewer ratings; mine's pure fluke. Wrote about 2 books that had apparently just been issued & hence many votes. That's all. The votes that matter are the rare ones on reviews of little-known books of merit--they make me hope that either I've drawn the book to someone's attention or even encouraged him to try it.

If you don't plan to review the slow-goer, do you mind saying what it is?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2011 09:00:51 GMT
Blackbeard says:
I doubt it's a fluke. In my eyes you are the most clever and interesting of any participant on these forums. I only wish there were more people on here like you, but then again, if there were, you might not be quite so special.
I am going to review it, as I've reviewed every book I've read since I started on here, but I don't mind telling you that it's 'Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret'. The real drawback to this book, which I was mostly interested in from reading Nietzsche, is that it is a computer scan of the original translation, so there are an extremely large amount of typos, etc. You can read my review when I'm finished, if you're interested. One thing that bothers me about reviewing books is that I find myself thinking about what I'm going to say in my review while I'm still reading, which takes away some of the pleasure.
I think I know what you mean about Oblomov hitting too close to home, but remember that he was even too lazy to read, which I don't think either of us suffer from, do we?
I also know what you mean about little-known books of merit. You didn't happen to ever read The Freethinker, did you?

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Feb 2011 08:48:26 GMT
monica says:
Here am I reading French froth and you're at Goethe; oh, dear. Typos aside, I'd be worried about the translation, given that it's the original--you're not wading through some unwieldy job from 100 years ago, are you? I've read a few of his works but though I know he was a genius of many parts don't know anything about him as a person: How does he come across?

A nice compliment. Thanks. Much too sweeping, though. Besides, my cell-mate writes these posts in return for the cigarettes my mates bring me on visiting day.

Not yet as am still waiting for a drop in price. I trust your judgement but I'm also finally learning not to get carried away ordering books I know little about and can't leaf through--have had a few disappointments that are in box bound for charity shop. . .

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Feb 2011 18:46:55 GMT
Blackbeard says:
He comes across as a great man, which seems to be the same opinion of every good writer I've ever heard mention him. The "conversations" all take place within the last eight years of his life, I believe, so he was quite old, but still very active - both physically and mentally. I didn't like Faust (possibly because I didn't understand it), and he's not one of my favourite writers, but I recognize him as one of those rare individuals I wish I could have known. Unfortunately, they are all dead.
It seems like The Freethinker is set at a fixed price - I've never seen it cheaper anywhere else at least. You can read the first pages on the American amazon if you want to, although I don't think they are the best representation for the book as a whole.
Luckily, I don't feel much of a compulsion to buy new books, even though there are of course hundreds that I would still like to read. My poor memory actually comes in handy when all I have left are books I've already read.

Posted on 6 Feb 2011 00:01:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Feb 2011 00:01:53 GMT
AJ-99 says:
For me the inconsistency towards the end was that, from being held up as a dire warning, people suddenly seemed to think of Oblomov almost as a saintly figure, too good for this world.

I didn't so much identify with him as envy him the opportunity to be like that.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Feb 2011 14:05:46 GMT
Blackbeard says:
That's an interesting point. I believe it is somewhat similar to Prince Myshkin from The Idiot, who is both derided and praised, as the author either sees fit or alludes to. But isn't envy of that form of lifestyle a form of identifying? It is wonderful to read of the old aristocratic lifestyle, where people were free to do only what they wished, but depressing to know that this is no longer possible for anyone who isn't obscenely rich.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Feb 2011 17:59:46 GMT
monica says:
But in Oblomov's case at least wasn't it more of a matter of being free of having to do what he didn't wish to and not getting around to doing what he wished to do? My take may be distorted by fact that putting things on the long finger--nothing to envy there: much potential for slighting others & harming oneself--is my besetting sin. . . Has either of you wasted time wondering as I have wondering where the division is between fiction ab't the superfluous man and what seems to be a sub-genre of works about downtrodden little clerks? Despite frequent diff. in social classes, one seems to slide into the other.

I find myself re-reading books often as well, as I don't remember even those I liked very well. What is it you do retain, say, 6 months after reading a book? Atmosphere, especially of setting, seems to be what stays with me longest.

I note that someone was awake until the wee hours last night, perhaps agonising over a rather unseemly offer of marriage.

Posted on 6 Feb 2011 18:03:26 GMT
monica says:
Blackbeard, have you read Boswell's Life of Johnson? If so, are there any smilarities between it and the one you're reading?
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