Book Review | Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov

Updated: Jul 28

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.




Oblomov is a social criticism and black humor novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov, which started in 1846, but the first edition was made in 1859.


Ivan Goncharov started to design this novel with his own narration in 1846, and his first articles informing the novel were published in 1849 in the magazine "Otechestvennye Zapiski" under the title "Oblomov's Dream". Unfinished novel was reconsidered by Ivan Goncharov in 1857 and the author finished the novel in a month. It might seem impossible to write such a great novel in a month. But remember that Goncharov has a response to this: "I had this book in my mind for years and the only thing that left is writing it. "


The novel received positive reviews after its publication, and even Tolstoy appreciated it. The novel criticizes the Russian aristocracy and civil servant life, who live in their own imagination and get used to live with the richness of having a farm and cannot make any breakthrough. Oblomov, this habit of inertia, calmness and laziness criticized over his character has been shown as a crime not only of Oblomov, but of the system and Oblomovism. Oblomov can be considered as a successful representation of 19th century Russia.


Oblomov is the only child of a noble family owner. Even the hair of Oblomov, who grew up without doing any work during his lifetime, always scans the servants and dresses his dress with Zahar (butler). These living conditions made Oblomov a lethargic and willless person who could do nothing but know only how to shout and command.


Oblomov, who has not developed any talent in these life standards, has turned into a character who dreams of doing many things but never undertakes any attempt.


Ivan Goncharov wrote the novel with a monographic novel technique ranging from birth to death, so the book tells about the sloth life of Oblomov as a whole, but the focus of the novel appears as a critique of the sloth of the Russian nobility.


The German origin Stoltz (an old friend of Oblomov), who appears as the opposite of the character of Oblomov, is presented as a positive model recommended to the Russians with his disciplined and hardworking identity. We can describe her lover Olga, who is determined to save Oblomov from this inertia, as an attempt to remove this feature of the Russians.


After the effect created by the novel, a concept called Oblomovism was formed. Even though the character of Oblomov is bright, his sensitivity is fine and well-intentioned, he has become a symbol of people who cannot act, and are always defeated.


In addition, movie of the Oblomov was released in 1980 by the Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov under the name "A Few Days in the Life of Oblomov" in 1980.



“Memories are either the greatest poetry, when they are memories of a vital happiness, or a burning pain, when they touch dried wounds.” /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
“Yes, and I think I will have enough strength to live and love my whole life through. One without the other is impossible.” /Goncharov
“Although people call love a capricious and unaccountable emotion that arises like an illness, nonetheless it has its own laws and reasons, like everything else. If these laws have been little studied so far, that is because a person struck down by love is in no condition to observe with a scholar's eye as the impression steals into his soul and shackles his emotions like a dream, as first his eyes go blind, at which moment his pulse and then his heart begin beating harder, all of a sudden there arises as of yesterday an undying devotion, the desire to sacrifice oneself; one's I gradually vanishes and crosses over into him or her; the mind becomes wither unusually dull or unusually sharp; the will surrenders to the will of another; and the head bows, the knees shake and the tears and fever come.” /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


“She attended the French performance, but the play's content now had a connection to her life. She read a book and the book invariably had lines with sparks from her mind, the fire of her emotions flickered here and there, and words spoken the night before were written down, as if the author had overheard how her heart beat./Goncharov
The forest held the same trees, but their sound had taken on special meaning; she had established a vibrant consonance with them. The birds did not simply twitter and chirp but were saying something to each other. Everything around her spoke and responded to her mood; a flower would blossom and she seemed to hear its breathing./Goncharov
“A lover of comfort might shrug after looking at the whole apparent jumble of furniture, old paintings, statues with missing arms and legs, engravings that were sometimes bad but precious in memory, and bric-a-brac. Only the eye of a connoisseur would have blazed with eagerness at the sight of this painting or that, some book yellowed with age, a piece of old porcelain, or stones and coins./Goncharov
But the furniture and paintings of different ages, the bric-a-brac that meant nothing to anyone but had been marked for them both by a happy hour or memorable moment, and the ocean of books and sheet music breathed a warm life that oddly stimulated the mind and aesthetic sense. Present everywhere was vigilant thought. The beauty of human effort shone here, just as the eternal beauty of nature shone all around./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


“But in love, merit is won blindly and unaccountably, and in this blindness and unaccountability lies happiness./Goncharov
“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
“You have a lunatic before you who has been infected by passion.” /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


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