Ivan Goncharov's most famous novel is a masterful 19th-centry satire of the apathy and degradation of the Russian nobility. Its protagonist, Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, is a young and guileless nobleman who would prefer to daydream in bed than face the world and its demands. Famously, over a hundred pages pass before Oblomov leaves his bed, and an entire chapter is dedicated to one of his idle dreams of his idyllic past. Eventually, he does leave his bed, and even falls rapturously in love with the beautiful Olga, but the romance is doomed by his laziness. His industrious friend Stoltz urges him to attend to his deteriorating finances, and bails him out when pernicious lords take advantage of him. The name "Oblomov" has become synonymous in Russian with laziness, and Lenin repeatedly used him as an example of the type of people who must be purged from Russian life. However, though Goncharov certainly presents Oblomov as foolish and naive, he also is deeply sympathetic to his simple-hearted and gentle character--a tragicomic Russian brother to Melville's Bartleby.
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