20 Inspirational Ivan Goncharov Quotes on Life

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Birth: June 18, 1812, Ulyanovsk, Russia

Death: September 27, 1891, St. Petersburg, Russia

He was born in Russia in 1812, in Simbirsk, now known as Ulyanovsk. Ivan Goncharov, a wealthy merchant with his father, was a civil servant for thirty years after graduating from Moscow University in 1834. He wrote his first book, A Common Story Novel, in 1847.

His work, Oblomov, published in 1859, came to the fore in 19th century Russian literature. The book has been translated into dozens of languages. Ivan Goncharov, with the symbolic character of Oblomov, created the concept of Oblomovism. When he retired from civil service, his latest novel The Precipice, was published. Goncharov, who never married, died in Petersburg in 1891.


“He had never clearly fathomed the true weight of a word of good, truth, and purity cast in the stream of human speech and the deep bend it cut in it. Nor had he thought that a word spoken boldly and loudly, with no hint of false shame, but rather with courage, that this word would not drown in the ugly cries of fashionable satyrs but would plunge like a pearl into the abyss of public life and always find itself a shell.” /Goncharov
“Many stumble over a good word, blushing in embarrassment, and utter a careless word boldly and loudly, never suspecting that it, too, unfortunately, will not go for naught but will leave a long trail of often times ineradicable evil.” /Goncharov
“When you don't know what you're living for, you don't care how you live from one day to the next. You're happy the day has passed and the night has come, and in your sleep you bury the tedious question of what you lived for that day and what you're going to live for tomorrow.” /Goncharov
“A close, daily intimacy between two people has to be paid for: it requires a great deal of experience of life, logic, and warmth of heart on both sides to enjoy each other’s good qualities without being irritated by each other’s shortcomings and blaming each other for them.” /Goncharov

“Love was life's hardest school of all.” /Goncharov
“Yesterday one has wished, to-day one attains the madly longed-for object, and to-morrow one will blush to think that one ever desired it.” /Goncharov
“It is the trick of dishonest people to offer sacrifices that are not needed or cannot be made so as to avoid making those that are required.” /Goncharov
“When all the forces in your organism come into play, then life will begin to play around you as well. You'll see what your eyes are closed to now, and you'll hear what you've never heard. The music of your nerves will begin to play, you'll hear the music of the spheres, and you'll listen to the grass grow. Just wait, there's no hurry. It will come in its own time!” /Goncharov

“Now or neverI 'To be or not to be!'"—Oblomov raised himself from his chair a little, but failing to find his slippers with his feet at once, sat down again.” /Goncharov
“I began life with a quenching of the light of day, and, from the first moment that I realized myself, realized also that I was on the wane.” /Goncharov
“What? Do you suppose the intellect can work separately from the heart?” /Goncharov
“Life is duty and obligation, therefore love, too, is a duty. It's as if God sent it to me,' she said, looking up at the sky, 'and told me to love.'” /Goncharov

“The common herd of "burghers", those cattle, complete with horns, who turn millstones with their bare hands.” /Goncharov
“The moments of nature's universal, triumphant silence had come, those minutes when the creative mind works harder, poetic thoughts seethe more ardently, the heart's passion blazes more brightly and its longing aches more painfully, the grain of criminal thought ripens in a cruel soul more imperturbably and powerfully.” /Goncharov
“... finally, he came to the conclusion that his life had not merely happened to be so simple and uneventful, but had been created and designed to be such, in order to demonstrate the ideally restful aspect of human existence.” /Goncharov
“She had resolved the question of love and life so boldly and so easily back then, everything had seemed so clear - and now it was all tangled in a hopeless knot. She had tried to be too clever; she had thought that it was enough to look at things simply, to go straight ahead, and life would obediently spread out like a carpet at her feet - and here she was! And she had no one to blame but herself - she alone was the culprit!” /Goncharov

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