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Oblomov Paperback – October 12, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Long before Jerry Seinfeld and Samuel Beckett, there was Ivan Goncharov, a minor government official in czarist Russia, and his classic novel about an ordinary Russian aristocrat mired in his own extraordinary inertia. --Chris Lehman, Bookforum

Oblomov is a truly great work, the likes of which one has not seen for a long, long time. I am in rapture over Oblomov and keep rereading it. --Leo Tolstoy

...Offers a fine example of sly and compassionate satire, a very rare genre indeed. --Michael Wood, London Review of Books

Oblomov is a truly great work, the likes of which one has not seen for a long, long time. I am in rapture over Oblomov and keep rereading it. --Leo Tolstoy

...Offers a fine example of sly and compassionate satire, a very rare genre indeed. --Michael Wood, London Review of Books

This reviewer knows of three earlier English translations of Oblomov: Natalie Duddington's (1929), David Magarshack's (1954), and Ann Dunnigan's (1963). The qualitative differences between these efforts are not great: all three are conscientious, accurate, and--despite occasional awkwardness--eminently ''readable.''

Now, a half a century later, comes Stephen Pearl's solid effort. Though it would be absurd to expect that Pearl has unveiled a new Oblomov--one that significantly alters the reader's view of Goncharov's masterpiece--this translation clearly surpasses its predecessors. Eschewing the dangerous "be-literal-at-all-costs" principle observed by some translators, Pearl offers a consistently smooth, supple, and idiomatic rendition of the novel--a version that preserves the ''spirit'' of the original Russian text. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers; all levels. ---- R. Gregg, emeritus, Vassar College

...Offers a fine example of sly and compassionate satire, a very rare genre indeed. --Michael Wood, London Review of Books

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 443 pages
  • Publisher: Bunim & Bannigan Ltd (October 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933480092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933480091
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I just returned it and ordered the Penguin Classics (Everyman's Library also has a fine but more expensive edition).
T. Peterson
Goncharov should also get credit for presenting his female characters with far more depth than is usually found in nineteenth-century novels written by men.
Cary Watson
Overall I felt the book dragged on in spots but overall worth the effort; assuming you can peel yourself off the couch to read it.
E. Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By "mikeu3" on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Oblomov was written just a couple of years before the abolition of serfdom in Russia, a time when the landowners were still clinging to feudal ways of making money but had been exposed to (and for the most part fascinated by) more modern ways of living their upper-class lives. The title character, like many other landowners, has for some time lived in Petersburg, away from his family estate, but unlike many others he finds himself very bored with society life. Instead, he prefers to remain in his bed, entertaining a handful of guests, mulling over but never putting to paper a plan to improve his estate, and, for him most pleasantly of all, daydreaming about his simple and idyllic childhood in the country. To any outside observer, he is pathetic in this state, where he can't even finish writing a letter, so his childhood friend Stolz tries to bring him out of his torpor. Stolz fails in persuading him that going to dinner parties and taking part in high-society backstabbing is any better than lying in bed, but he does manage to rouse him to some kind of action by introducing him to his friend Olga. Olga and Oblomov fall in love, with Olga dreaming of a permanently-changed Oblomov and Oblomov dreaming of a future growing old with Olga on Oblomov's family estate. Meanwhile, circumstances force Oblomov to move into a new apartment, where the landlady takes quite a liking to him but the landlady's brother, along with one of Oblomov's longtime houseguests, conspire to defraud Oblomov. This probably only summarizes about half of the novel, but saying much more would probably give away too much of the ending.
Despite the unattractiveness of Oblomov's preferred lifestyle, Goncharov manages to make Oblomov a very lovable character.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful By T. Peterson on November 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Be forewarned: this edition is not the full shilling. At a mere 161 pages, it is not even a third of the actual novel. Nowhere does it indicate this to be the case, so if you purchase it without looking at the page count in the product description notes, you might be fooled, since all the customer reviews here are actually for other (complete) editions. I just returned it and ordered the Penguin Classics (Everyman's Library also has a fine but more expensive edition).

Because all reviews for various editions seem to be lumped together on a single page, I'd like to clarify as to exactly which edition I'm warning people away from:

Product Details
Paperback: 162 pages
Publisher: World Library Classics (August 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1557427739
ISBN-13: 978-1557427731
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Boris Bangemann on January 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Oblomov, the main character of Ivan Goncharov's novel, is widely regarded as one of the finest literary examples of the backward-looking landed gentry of mid-nineteenth century Russia. His name has even entered the Russian language in the term "oblomovshchina", meaning backwardness, inertia. The unheroic hero Oblomov is also a very fine literary creation of a fully-fledged human being. He is a melancholy idealist, a dreamer whose temperament is such that he never begins to put his dreams into action. His tragedy is that he weighs the possible obstacles to his endeavors for such a long time that, finally, he never even starts to act.
Ivan Goncharov is at his best when he describes the mental processes of Oblomov that lead to his bumbling life. There is no better description of how the mind of a pessimistic person manipulates the perception of reality than in this book.
"The Saint of Sloth" is the title of a review written by the critic V.S. Pritchett for the New York Review of Books. It captures nicely the two main aspects of Oblomov's character. On the one hand, Oblomov is lazy, irresponsible, pessimistic, paralyzed, complacent, slothful; but on the other hand he is idealistic, true to himself, honest, child-like, innocent, saintly. He is ultimately a lovable human being. He does not lack wisdom, he lacks resolve.
As can be expected, Goncharov's book is not an action-packed thriller. On the first 50 or so pages, Oblomov barely manages to get out of his bed. A patient reader who keeps reading, however, is rewarded with a wonderfully realistic love story (including all the ups and downs), and many wise comments by the bachelor Goncharov on life, love, passion, duty and marriage.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By literalist on November 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By The Reading Room on October 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This new translation of Oblomov by Stephen Pearl brings the work to life as never before. Don't buy the old Penguin translation or the new Schwartz translation, unless you want to get bogged down in stale or scholarly English. This translation is fresh and vivid and (the experts say) accurate. It won the 2008 Prize for Best Translation into English from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.

In the Pearl translation, you will experience the wry humor of Goncharov. 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 devour this Russian classic in fresh, crunchy English. It's a great read!Oblomov
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