Set at the beginning of the nineteenth century, before the ideal of industrious modern man, when idleness was still looked upon by Russia's serf-owning rural gentry as a plausible and worthy goal, there was Oblomov. Indolent, inattentive, incurious, given to daydreaming and procrastination—indeed, given to any excuse to remain horizontal—Oblomov is hardly the stuff of heroes. Yet, he is impossible not to admire. He is forgiven for his weakness and beloved for his shining soul. Ivan Goncharov’s masterpiece is not just ingenious social satire, but also a sharp criticism of nineteenth-century Russian society.
Translator Marian Schwartz breathes new life into Goncharov’s voice in this first translation from the generally recognized definitive edition of the Russian original, and the first as well to attempt to replicate in English Goncharov’s wry humor and all-embracing humanity, chosen by Slate as one of the Best Books of 2008.
About the Author
The Russian novelist IVAN GONCHAROV (1812–1891) was born in Simbirsk, Russia. He served for thirty years as a minor government official and traveled widely. His short stories, critiques, essays, and memoirs were published posthumously in 1919. Oblomov was his most popular and critically acclaimed novel during his lifetime.
MARIAN SCHWARTZ has translated Russian literature for over thirty years. She has published over two dozen book-length translations, along with twenty issues of Russian Studies in Literature. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova and is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association.