Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ikuru Kuwajima: I, Oblomov

I can't always say why a certain book arouses my interest. In the case of „I, Oblomov“, I believe it was the press release that stated that „Ikuru Kuwajima explored the post-Soviet space of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan through the lens of 'oblomovism'“. Since these are countries I haven't visited but have seen numerous pictures of that I thought intriguing, I was curious to get to see more of these landscapes. However, this book is not about impressive nature but – although this was stated clearly in the press release but I had somehow overlooked it – about 'oblovism'. And while 'Oblomov' ringed some bell, I couldn't really place it.

As ever so often, Wikipedia helped and so I learned that 'Oblomov' happens to be a popular novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov, first published in 1859. Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, the central character of the novel, „is a young, generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Throughout the novel he rarely leaves his room or bed. In the first 50 pages, he manages only to move from his bed to a chair.“ Goncharov writes: „On glancing casually at Oblomov a cold, a superficially observant person would have said, „Evidently he is good-natured, but a simpleton"; whereas a person of greater penetration and sympathy than the first would have prolonged his glance, and then gone on his way thoughtfully, and with a smile as though he were pleased with something.“  

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