Even though Ivan Goncharov wrote several books that were widely read and discussed during his lifetime today he is remembered for one novel Oblomov
published in 1859 an indisputable classic of Russian literature the artistic stature and cultural significance of which may be compared only to other such masterpieces as Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov
Stephen Pearl’s new translation the first major English-language publication of Oblomov in more than fifty years succeeds exquisitely in introducing this astonishing and endearing novel to a new generation of readers. Rich in situational comedy psychological complexity social satire and incisive depictions of class ethnicity and sexuality Oblomov is clearly a novel that was written for all time.
Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov was born in 1812 in Simbirsk Russia the son of a wealthy grain merchant. He graduated from Moscow University in 1834 and spent thirty years in government service starting out as a low-level bureaucrat and eventually becoming the chief government censor. Goncharov’s first novel A Common Story which was published in 1847 explored the conflicts in Russian society between the landed gentry and the rising middle class. A travelogue The Frigate Pallada published in 1858 covered his adventures in England Africa and Japan during the 1850s. Oblomov his best-known work published in 1859 brought him wide acclaim including praise from Fyodor Dostoevsky.
He wrote The Precipice published in 1869 after his retirement from government service and he died in St. Petersburg in 1891. Goncharov also wrote criticism essays and short stories which were left unpublished until 1919.
“This is an excellent translation . . . I have no hesitation recommending it. . . .Pearl’s rendering is fluid elegant and witty and it is a great relief to have a replacement for the 1954 translation by David Margarshack which is dated. ”—Barbara Henry University of Washington
“A fine new translation.” — Michael Dirda Washington Post Book World
"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 Choice Magazine
"Stephen Pearl’s translation is by far the best I’ve read . . . it boasts a livelier more contemporary idiom while it faithfully reproduces Goncharov’s 19th-century Russian.” —John Givens University of Rochester
"A deep warm bath of a book something you can slip down into silently and fall gently through its pages until you are drowsy with pleasure. . . . It’s a longish book but it’s not heavy-going thanks to a new translation by Stephen Pearl.” —Michael Enright Canadian Broadcasting’s Sunday Edition
"Marvelously translated by Stephen Pearl without sounding overwhelmingly British or American.” —Keith Garebian The Globe & Mail
"Beautiful new edition and translation . . .” —Carlin Romano Philadelphia Inquirer