Top positive review
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Laziness and indecision as an art form
on 13 July 2005
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.