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Set at the beginning of the nineteenth century, before the ideal of industrious modern man, when idleness was still looked upon by Russia’s serf-owning rural gentry as a plausible and worthy goal, there was Oblomov. Indolent, inattentive, incurious, given to daydreaming and procrastination–indeed, given to any excuse to remain horizontal–Oblomov is hardly the stuff of heroes. Yet, he is impossible not to admire. He is forgiven for his weakness and beloved for his shining soul. Ivan Goncharov’s masterpiece is not just ingenious social satire, but also a sharp criticism of nineteenth-century Russian society.
Translator Marian Schwartz breathes new life into Goncharov’s voice in this first translation from the generally recognized definitive edition of the Russian original, and the first as well to attempt to replicate in English Goncharov’s wry humor and all-embracing humanity, chosen by Slate as one of the Best Books of 2008.
“Intimately funny and desperately sad…A fine example of sly and compassionate satire, a very rare genre indeed.” — London Review of Books