It took me a while because I’m swamped in work, and just today I decided to take the morning off to write the two reviews I’m missing. The first one will be about Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov.
This book was published in 1859 in installments in Russia. I don’t remember loving Russian literature this much when I was studying, but I’ve read two books already this year and I want to read more and more. I even want to give Crime and Punishment a second chance.
The book tells the story of Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, an indolent, a generous slothful nobleman. During the first part —11 chapters!— he only moves from his bed to a chair and back to his bed. Almost 200 pages!
He falls in love of an active and modern young woman, but is unable to do anything to solve his current situation to finally marry her. She loves him, but is certain that if he doesn’t actually *do* something, nothing can really happen between them.
In the end he lets her go, she marries Oblomov’s best friend (who is an active, diligent, and modern half-Russian half-German man used to work and travel), and Oblomov dies having had a son with his landlady. Oblomov’s best friend takes care of his son.
I loved this book. It talks about so many important things that we still live right now in the 21stcentury, 159 years later. The characters feel sooo modern. I couldn’t help but think that Oblomov is what older generations think about millenials, they think millenials don’t do anything and are in bed all day everyday. But this book also talks about weddings, and feminism (without saying the word, of course). It talks a lot about writing and writers (Oblomov kinda could be one, if he chose so). And it also talks about a burden that we still have in our society: bureaucracy.
I loved the relationship of Stoltz and Olga (Oblomov’s best friend and his love interest). It feels so current. There’s one part where Olga feels mad for every book Stoltz reads without her, isn’t that like Netflix cheating now? And she desires for everything to be accessible to her, just what I feel in 2018.
I remember I HATED my European Literature of the 19th Century classes in school. I didn’t finish ONE Russian book. I’m sorry, it’s true. But I’m rediscovering these authors and I’m falling in love with them. I don’t think I’ll read anymore Russian classics this year, but I’m excited for the years to come…
As a side note, something [I think] weird happened during my reading. We were watching a French movie (Delicacy, La Délicatesse) by David Foenkinos with Audrey Tautou. And suddenly, she’s there, lying on the couch reading Oblomov! Perhaps it’s something common, but it had never happened to me that a character in a movie is reading the same book as I! 😮
This is my entry for Back to the Classics challenge prompt: A 19th Century classic 🙂