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Born into a wealthy merchant family, Goncharov pursued a career in the civil service; first in the ministry of finance, and later, during more liberal times after 1855, in the censorship department. Most of his life was very placid, troubled only once by an extended sea voyage to Japan, which resulted in a smoothly written travel narrative, The Frigate Pallas (1855--57). In his later years, he suffered from paranoia, having become obsessed with the notion that Ivan Turgenev and such foreign writers as Flaubert had plagiarized elements of his last work. Goncharov's solid reputation as a major realist writer rests, above all, on his second novel, Oblomov (1859). The fame of this work derives from its unmatched depiction of human slothfulness and boredom, embodied in the book's likable hero. Oblomov is now a literary and cultural archetype, while the term Oblomovism has entered the Russian language, denoting indolence and inertia of epic proportions. Goncharov's other works are of lesser stature. A Common Story (1847) is an entertaining bildungsroman about a young man's gradual abandonment of his early ideals. The Precipice (1869), on which Goncharov worked for almost 20 years, is a massive portrayal of gentry life in the country. Although its antiradical plot is not terribly successful, the book contains a gallery of striking social and psychological types: particularly memorable are the novel's women. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from Oblómov… (més)