Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oblomov Essay

An essay on the nineteenth century Russian novel Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov. It is long, it contains more than everything one would need to begin reading it. (Joseph Frank is also the author of a five volume biographical study of Dostoevsky. He knows everything.)


It is no surprise that Lenin (who was also born, incidentally, in Simbirsk) time and again refers to Oblomov as a figure embodying all the forces opposing the transformation of Russian society that he wished to bring about. Nor could Mikhail Gorbachev resist invoking Oblomov to characterize those opposing his policy of perestroika. But the book's appeal exceeds the country and the culture of its origins. Oblomovshchina is a spiritual condition and a social problem that we all may recognize, whether it delights us or not. As Richard Peace has observed, Oblomov "has significance beyond that of its continuing relevance to Russian society and Russian culture. Happy, indeed, would be the reader who beyond laughter at Oblomov's subterfuges...would not be aware, too, of an uneasy feeling of self-recognition."

As someone seriously suffering from the disease of Oblomovitis I have been meaning to read it for long. It was even on my list of "books for winter reading". But I have got distracted with some other books and also some work. (I did read Malina from that list. Post here.) This is not nineteenth century alas, everybody has to do some work, even the superfluous men.

2 comments:

jyothsnay said...

Alok
Have they invented cure for this disease of Oblomovitis? I found that this post of yours leads the works done on the original protagonist, when I googled it. interesting!
I started reading the essay link, but struggling with the need to retire, as I am facing the serene yet heavy music of sleep, the dreams are beckoning me like The Pied Piper of Hamelin..will write to this post tomorrow

Alok said...

cure for oblomovitis? I am looking for it too!!