Oblomov is the best known novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov, first published in 1859. Oblomov is also the central character of the novel, often seen as the ultimate incarnation of the superfluous man, a symbolic character in 19th-century Russian literature. Oblomov was compared to Shakespeare's Hamlet as answering 'No!' to the question "To be or not to be?"
Oblomov is a young, generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Throughout the novel he rarely leaves his room or bed and famously fails to leave his bed for the first 150 pages of the novel. The book was considered a satire of Russian nobility whose social and economic function was increasingly in question in mid-nineteenth century Russia.
About the Author
Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov (Russian: Ива́н Алекса́ндрович Гончаро́в, Ivan Aleksandrovič Gončarov; 18 June [O.S. 6 June] 1812 – 27 September [O.S. 15 September] 1891) was a Russian novelist best known for his novels A Common Story (1847), Oblomov (1859), and The Precipice (1869). He also served in many official capacities, including the position of censor.
Goncharov was born in Simbirsk into the family of a wealthy merchant. He was educated at a boarding school, then the Moscow College of Commerce, and finally at Moscow State University. After graduating, he served for a short time in the office of the Governor of Simbirsk, before moving to Saint Petersburg where he worked as government translator and private tutor, while publishing poetry and fiction in private almanacs. Goncharov's first novel, A Common Story, was published in Sovremennik in 1847.
Goncharov's second and best-known novel Oblomov was published in 1859 in Otechestvennye zapiski. His third and final novel The Precipice was published in Vestnik Evropy in 1869. He also worked as a literary and theatre critic. Towards the end of his life Goncharov wrote a memoir called An Uncommon Story, in which he accused his literary rivals, first and foremost Ivan Turgenev, of having plagiarized his works and prevented him from achieving European fame. The memoir was published in 1924. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, among others, considered Goncharov an author of high stature. Anton Chekhov is quoted as stating that Goncharov was "...ten heads above me in talent."
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