I am please to announce completion of my latest audio book, Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov. When I started this project, I thought it would be a fairly uninteresting reading of an unknown work by a little-known author. That’s not how it turned out. This is a book that literally everybody was reading in Russia when it came out, and I think it has something to say to modern people as it deals with questions of work and leisure. Here’s my summary (with help from the Wikipedia):
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 is a young, generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Spoiled as a child to the point of not even being able to put on his own socks, Oblomov is unprepared to deal with the smallest difficulty of adult life. In his fevered dreams he sees the words “Oblomovstchina” (“Oblomovism” or in this translation “the disease of Oblomovka”) in flaming letters on the ceiling putting a name to the disability of which he is all too aware.
This romantic novel was considered a satire of Russian nobility whose social and economic function was increasingly in question in mid-nineteenth century Russia, and from it the word “Oblomovstchina” entered the Russian vocabulary.