Item description for Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov, Stephen Pearl, Galya Diment & Tatyana Tolstaya...
Even though Ivan Goncharov wrote several books that were widely read and discussed during his lifetime, today he is remembered for one novel, Oblomov, published in 1859, an indisputable classic of Russian literature, the artistic stature and cultural significance of which may be compared only to other such masterpieces as Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov. Stephen Pearl's new translation, the first major English-language publication of Oblomov in more than fifty years, succeeds exquisitely to introduce this astonishing and endearing novel to a new generation of readers.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 5.75" Height: 9" Weight: 1.6 lbs.
Release Date Oct 12, 2006
Publisher Bunim & Bannigan Ltd
ISBN 1933480092 ISBN13 9781933480091
Availability 0 units.
More About Ivan Goncharov, Stephen Pearl, Galya Diment & Tatyana Tolstaya
Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov (1812-1891) was a Russian novelist best known as the author of Oblomov. He was born in Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk); his father was a wealthy grain merchant. After graduating from Moscow University in 1834 Goncharov served for thirty years as a minor government official. In 1847, Goncharov's first novel, Obyknovennaia istoriia (usually translated into English as A Common Story), was published; it dealt with the conflicts between the excessive Romanticism of a young Russian nobleman, freshly arrived in Saint Petersburg from the provinces, and the emerging commercial class of the Imperial capital with its sober pragmatism. It was followed by Ivan Savich Podzhabrin (1848), a naturalist psychological sketch. Between 1852 and 1855 Goncharov voyaged to England, Africa, Japan, and back to Russia via Siberia as the secretary of Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin. His travelogue, a chronicle of the trip, The Frigate Pallada (The Frigate Pallas), was published in 1858 ("Pallada" is the Russian spelling of "Pallas"). His wildly successful novel Oblomov was published the following year, evolving from an 1849 short story or sketch entitled "Oblomov's Dream. An Episode from an Unfinished Novel" ("Son Oblomova"), published in "Sovremennik," No. 4. The short story was later incorporated into the finished novel as "Oblomov's Dream" ("Son Oblomova"), Chapter 9. The main character, Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, was compared to Shakespeare's Hamlet who answers "No!" to the question "To be or not to be?." Fyodor Dostoyevsky, among others, considered Goncharov a noteworthy author of high stature. Turgenev, who fell out with Goncharov after the latter accused him of plagiarism (specifically of having used some of the characters and situations from The Precipice, whose plan Goncharov had disclosed to him in 1855, in Home of the Gentry and On the Eve), nevertheless declared: "As long as there is even just one Russian alive, Oblomov will be remembered!"
I'm a fan of Russian literature, so when I heard this book mentioned in the same breath as Brothers Karamazov, Fathers and Sons, and Dead Souls, I thought that I had uncovered a lost classic.
Being a fan of Russian literature, I got pretty excited when I stumbled across Oblomov and saw it being compared to other Russian writers like Dostoevksy and Tostoy. When I learned the book's premise -- a man who sits around his house all day doing nothing but thinking -- then I got really excited.
Perhaps it is my own fault, but it becomes very difficult for me to enjoy (and therefore praise) a book when, (1) the story is not to my liking, (2) I begin to loathe the main character. Unfortunately, I found both of those things coming true. In the end, I was left slightly dissapointed. Oblomov is a good novel, but in my opinion it wasn't great. I would not for the life of me, compare it with Dostoevsky or Chekhov (who are my favorites). It has more in common with Tolstoy (without as much of the epic grandure).
Gonchorov's book has some redeeming qualities. From the superb Stephen Pearl translation, it can safely be said that some of the authors supurb writing remains intact. From a prose standpoint, Pearl's take on Gonchorov's Russian offers a richness that Constance Garnett was never able to capture with any of her translations. Whether Author or Translator is to be praised, I couldn't say. All I know is that this book was finely writen. The language was lively and varied, and the words modern. Suprisingly, the book actually made me laugh out loud.
I feel like I was mislead with the plot. The bulk of Oblomov is a love story; a story of courtship between Illa Illych Oblomov and a younger Olga. Oblmobov's niavity and cowardness, and even his lazyness turn against him here and I began to loathe him. Also, I did not enjoy reading about a 19th century courtship at all.
On the other hand, the psychology is fair; perhaps even accurate. If you enjoyed reading a book like Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence, then you'll probably love Oblomov. Alas, I disliked Sons and Lovers for many of the same reasons I disliked Oblomov. I'm convinced that people have different idea's of love and happyness, and no matter how well crafted they are written about, it still seems like they are the experience of a single individual, rather than universal ideas.
If you dislike Dostoevsky and hate Chekhov, read this, perhaps you'll love it.
A memorable player in the Human Comedy May 18, 2008
If life, as Balzac asserts, is a human comedy, then Oblomov has a memorable role in it. His existential question is not whether to be or not to be, as Hamlet advises, but rather to act or not to act: "to stay or move on." Oblomov is a quietist: that is, he finds action, if not impossible, then ultimately futile. This question is asked again in Waiting for Godot when the two main players determine to go and remain frozen in their places as the curtain falls on the tragi-comedy. Goncharov's work articulates many masterful turns of phrase in this novel, often with almost unspeakable beauty and insight into the human comedy. A member of the landed gentry with an estate in the country, Oblomov discovers that life won't let you alone or leave you in peace, no matter where you live. Oblomov is a lost soul, like so many Russian novelists' protagonists. "Life catches you, there's no stopping it." He mourns how hard it is to lead a simple life. At a time just before the fall of serfdom in Russia he views the elite as "living dead" who waste their lives in salons playing cards. We find hints of Gogol who was so germinal in his influence of Russian novelists who followed him. Oblomov's utopia is full of peace and quiet but he can never find it. Great line: "With me love is stronger than fear." Another: "This brooding of yours...is really a sign of strength. Sometimes an active questing mind tries to probe beyond normal limits and, of course, finds no answers...a deep frustration with life not yielding up its secrets...It leads you to the abyss from which there are no answers to be had and forces you to cherish life even more warmly...The alternative would be a life without questioning...It's a malaise of mankind." Another: "Don't let providence overhear you complaining or it might take it as evidence of ingratitude. Providence doesn't like it when its blessings are not appreciated." The patient reader will find many profound and moving expressions of Goncharev's perception of the human comedy. The exposition at the outset is daunting and the character development seems far too long in places. The pre-press proofing was annoyingly sloppy in this edition in a couple dozen places: maybe it's simply "oblomovshchina" on the part of the editor, in this case an Oxford scholar, but I expected better treatment by the publisher of this classic Russian novel. Your patience definitely will be rewarded with a memorable read of a truly great novel.
Oblomov is Goncharov's Masterpiece of a lethargic Russian couch potato! Mar 17, 2008
Oblomov was published in 1859 to widespread interest. The novel is a classic study of a lazy nobleman whose name Oblomov means "fragmentation" in the Russian language. Oblomov is attended by the slothful Zakhar who is his feckless manservant. Oblomov worked briefly in the Tsarist goverment but retired to live a life of sequestered boredom in a slovenly apartment in St. Petersburg. He is the scion of idle landowners who possessed over 300 serfs. Oblomov lives off the crops raised on his estate, worries over peasants who run away from the rundown estate and is fearful of being evicted from his seedy lodgings. As the long novel of over 500 densely worded pages begins we see him being visited by a series of acquaintances. These visitors reporach him for his slothful lifestyle. He refuses even to get out of bed to attend the theatre, opera house or a party! It will be over 150 pages before he ventures forth from his domicile of repose! His best friend is the half German businessman Stoltz. He and Stolt went to school together but are as different as night and day! Stoltz is a smart businessman who is alway neatly attired and overtly ambitious. Author Goncharov is showing how these two men represent the two different paths in life we can take; energy and living life to the full as personified in Stoltz or dreamy and idle like couch potato Oblomov. The novel reads slowly with little action. Oblomov carries on a tepid love affair with the fragile Olga but does not have the energy to make his dream of a happy and cozy home come to fruition. The book devotes chapter nine to his dream of a future rural utopia of good food, friends, happy children and a lovely wife but this all comes a cropper! There are surprises in the book as Oblomov is romantically drawn to his practical, hardworking landlady Agalfya who has two children by her late husband. I found her to be the most admirable character in the novel. The novel is good at psychological exploration of how a sluggish, bored man spends his days suffering from ennui leaving him obese, intellectually inert and lacking energy to accomplish goals. Oblomov represents the effete rural aristocracy of Tsarist Russia which would be swept into the dustbin of history by the Russian Revolution of 1918. Oblomov is a dreamy and kind man who may or may not become lovable to the reader. Stoltz would do well to relax more and dream but is too practical to spend time on dream spinning. The men are friends throughout their lives. The novel has its comic and melancholic pages leading to an enjoyable reading experience to readers who enjoy a tale leisurely told focusing more on character than plot.
The Best Translation Oct 18, 2007
This new translation of Oblomov by Stephen Pearl brings the work to life as never before. Don't buy the old Penguin translation, unless you want to get bogged down in stale, stilted English. This translation is fresh and vivid and (the experts say) accurate.
Here you will experience the wry humor of Goncharov, which is bleached out of the older translation. You will encounter Goncharov's amazingly drawn characters as if they were real people: the pathologically lethargic but lovable Oblomov; Zakhar, his loyal servant and Sancho Panza; Stolz, his super-organized, energetic, yet affectionate German friend; and the poignantly sweet Olga.
Don't miss the chance to read this Russian classic in fresh, crunchy English. It's a great read!
Eats shoots and translates Nov 10, 2006
You are best off buying the old Magarshack translation, published by Penguin Classics.
The new Pearl translation contains so many unnecessary typographical errors--comma disease, carriage returns that insert white lines in the middle of paragraphs more than once, quotation marks regularly lost track of--that the edition is too broken to use with pleasure.
Stylistically Pearl's done something different from Magarshack, "updating" the old-feeling language. This sometimes works well in dialogues between characters, but not so much in the voice of the narrator, in my opinion.