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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Last (Russian) Man

posted by on October 24 at 16:03 PM

Not only is there a new translation of the 19th century Russian novel Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov, but it includes an introduction by the great post-Soviet writer Tatyana Tolstaya, whose collection of short stories On The Golden Porch, which was published in 1989, occupies one of the warmest places in my heart.

For those who don’t know Oblomov, he is the Russian grandfather of the American couch potato. Tolstaya writes:

“[T]here is something deeply Russian in the character of Oblomov, something that strikes a chord in every Russian heart. This something lies in the seductive appeal of laziness and of good-natured idleness, the golden conservation of a serene, untroubled childhood when everyone loves one another and when life with its anxieties and demands is still over the horizon. It is to be found in the tact and delicacy of ‘live and let live,’ in taking the path of least resistance, in unassertiveness, and an aversion to fuss and bother of any kind.”
For the best results, you must read this novel while in bed or on a couch.

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You gotta love a book where it takes the main character almost 100 pages just to get out of bed.

Tolstaya's On the Golden Porch is incredible as well; I gotta get a copy of this new translation of Oblomov!

I think many Bolsheviks pointed to Oblomov as the epitome of lazy, imperial Russia.

Posted by Jameson | October 24, 2006 5:03 PM

Looks like you need a "Literature" orange thingy by the heading.

Posted by Dilda | October 24, 2006 5:44 PM

The first time I tried to read Oblomov I was five years old, and I was seduced by the gray pencil sketch on the cover. I didn't finish it.

The second time was when I was twelve, and I was excited about it being Russian. I didn't finish it.

The third time I tried to read Oblomov I was graduating from college and I was depressed and listless and identified a lot with the guy. I didn't finish it.

Now it's this enormous symbol of every book I've never finished, and I kind of like it that way. What better than a novel about a man who can't do anything for that role?

Posted by Horace | October 24, 2006 7:35 PM

The warmest places in your heart must be getting crowded.

Posted by jameyb | October 25, 2006 9:57 AM

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