Literature / Oblomov

Oblomov is a Russian novel by Ivan Goncharov, published in 1859. Nobleman Oblomov resides in his St. Petersburg (capital of Czarist Russia) apartment with his servant Sachar, daydreaming half the day and doing nothing the other half. Sometimes, one of his old friends visits him and provides a bit of change.

He is the epitome of the "Superfluous man", a type of character you'll often meet in 19th century Russian literature.

The novel is divided into three parts. The first part depicts Oblomov's uneventful life until his childhood friend Andrey Karlovich Stolz visits him. The second part is a Hope Spot, when Stolz urges him to do more, but Oblomov's meeting and infatuation with Olga distracts him. In the third part, Oblomov reverts to his old habits, which Stolz coined oblomovshtchina (can be translated as "Oblomovism" - this word entered the Russian language). The once again cynical Oblomov writes a letter to reject Olga and marries his landlord Agafya. Meanwhile his estate remains in disarray. He soon discovers that those whom he had trusted to manage his estate were False Friends all along, and they would have gotten away with it if it weren't for Stolz (You Meddling Kids). Married and financially secured once more Oblomov returns to Oblomovka, his home in the country side, to spend his last years. Stolz and Olga raises his child, named Andrey after his adopted father.


  • Beta Couple: Sachar and Anisya
  • Big Eater: Oblomov, of course. Also, Tarantyev's buddy Ivan Mukhoyarov (brother of Agafya), who likes to spend his money on delicacies instead of more visible luxuries (if only because people could get suspicious - as he says, they can't see what he has in his stomach).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The general with whom Stolz is on first-name base. In the chapter about Stolz's youth
  • Closer to Earth: Anisya compared to Sachar, Olga to Oblomov (not that hard)
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The eponymous character
  • The Dog Bites Back: When Tarantyev's buddy is fired because they cheated Oblomov, Tarantyev still has the nerve to shout at Oblomov and demand that he give half of his property to Mukhoyarov. Then, finally, Oblomov slaps him, and the servants claim they had seen nothing.
  • Extreme Doormat: Agafya. Oblomov is also guilty of this, seeing as he is pushed around by Tarantyev.
  • Fat Slob: Again, Oblomov. It takes about 150 pages until he leaves his bed, and without Stolz, he mighty not even have managed that.
  • Film of the Book: Made in Russia.
  • Foil: Stolz, for Oblomov.
  • The Generic Guy: Alekseyev.
  • German Russians: Stolz - a very positive example
  • Heavy Sleeper: Not surprisingly, Oblomov.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Oblomov to Olga.
  • Jerkass: Sachar, who badmouthes his master and steals from him, if only small amounts. Even worse is Tarantyev, who essentially blackmails Oblomov. After Oblomov dies, Sachar is heartbroken and shows that he was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold all along.
  • The Klutz: Sachar, who regularly breaks stuff.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Tarantyev and his buddy.
  • Meaningful Name: "Stolz" is German for "pride" or "proud" (here, in a positive sense - he's someone who can be proud of what he did).
  • Momma's Boy: Oblomov shares many characteristics with them, although his father isn't absent and also never shown to be a typical Henpecked Husband.
  • Never My Fault: Oblomov is completely unable to change his life by himself; when he gets unhappy he decides to blame Sachar instead. Now Sachar is a Jerkass and whatnot, but still Misblamed.
  • Phony Veteran: Sachar pretends to be one at the end, when Oblomov is dead and he became a beggar.
  • The Pig Pen: Sachar always has dirty hands.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Guess who. After the head of his village tells Oblomov that there are problems, he starts thinking about reforms, and spends the next years with that, without doing anything.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Oblomov bitterly rejects all that is St. Petersburg (the people, the lifestyle, the environment), while dearly yearning for his home in the country.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A rare good example. Tarantyev's buddy thinks he can pull off robbing Oblomov blind, but Stolz happens to be on first-name base with the general, who gets Mukhoyarov fired.
  • Shut In: The titular character. He's afraid to leave his house, let alone the city or the country. He gets better, thanks to Stolz... and worse again.
  • Spoiled Brat: Oblomov started as this - his family doesn't even mind if he skips school regularly. In fact, they push him to do so.
  • With Friends Like These...: At the beginning, Tarantyev is rude and insulting; later, he and a buddy of his essentially cheat and blackmail Oblomov.