Dedicated to classics and hits.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oblomovka by Ivan Goncharov

by Ivan Goncharov
p. 1859

  This is kind of like a Russian version of the Herman Melville novella,  Bartleby, The Scrivener(published in 1853.)  Melville's short story concerns the exploits of one Bartleby, a scrivener working in the financial canyons of early 19th century New York who would "prefer not to" do the work that he is being paid to do.

 I frankly would have never read Oblomovka were it not for the placement it obtained in the 2006 edition of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die- and during a very competitive decade for break-out proto-modernist texts like Moby Dick, Adam Bede, and "classic" Victorian texts like David Copperfield and Bleak House.

  An interesting question about Oblomovka is not the reception it was accorded by the Russian language audience (hit) and it was soon after translated into English (or maybe not until 1915.)  Oblomovka has obviously survived because of the existentialist overtones of the main character: A Russian land owner who has the kind of malaise we associate with rock stars or people who use the phrase "post-modern" in conversations about Art. Oblomovka is a quick read, easily available on an Amazon Kindle or such reader and it def. gives some breadth to the World literature of the 1850s category.

 Goncharov kind of represents a transitional figure between the early rumblings of Nicolai Gogol- Dead Souls was published in 1842 and the beginning of the late 19th century Russian literary hey-day with Ivan Turgenev and Fyodor Dostoyevsky emerging to wide, international acclaim in the 1860s.

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