Saturday, May 10, 2014

118. Oblomov

Ivan Goncharov
Around 500 pages

I recently took a trip to Boston and miscalculating how many books I would need to sustain me for the duration of the weekend (I know every reader has been in this situation before).  Luckily, I visited Brattle Bookshop during my stay, which is one of the coolest shops I have ever been to.  I found this book here, picked up a couple of plays, and successfully resisted spending $500 on Henry Fielding's works.

I have to admit that I had a certain amount of trepidation about starting this novel.  The Russian novels I have experienced so far have been dreary, long winded, and even seemed to make it a point not to be too entertaining.  However, and I have lost track of the number of times I have said this, I was pleasantly surprised with this book and would highly recommend it.

Oblomov is truly a protagonist unlike any other.  He suffers from oblomovitis, that is to say, extreme laziness and apathy.  It takes him around fifty pages to get out of bed and he spends most of these pages dreading getting up, since doing so would involve paying bills and writing letters.  Eventually, he falls in love (which was an even bigger pain in the ass back then as it is today).  Can he overcome his lethargy to win Olga?

Actually, the real question of this post is can I overcome my own lethargy to write it?  I started this entry a couple of days ago and I keep taking breaks to stare into space.  This, in essence, is why I loved this book. The hero isn't facing some sort of external crisis that he is better for in the long run.  It also isn't something internal that, though lamentable, isn't something that a lot of people have to deal with.  But you can't relate to overcoming laziness and doing a bunch of administrative busy work that will slowly kill your soul (and no, I am not being overly dramatic; I am renewing my passport right now and it is an absolute nightmare)?

I suppose I should slip in some criticisms.  I didn't find the character Zakhar quite as charming as I think I was supposed to and his scenes went on a little too long.  The dream sequence was a little odd but I suppose it gave us background information on Oblomov's character so I will let it slide.

Overall, a great, obscure little novel that is well worth the read.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Extremely popular upon its release.

Condemns serfdom.

UP NEXT: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  Probably one of the most famous novels of all time that I haven't read.   I think I tried it once before and hated it, but after David Copperfield I am ready to give it another go.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the character would like The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars. What do you think?