Places: Oblomov

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1859 (English translation, 1915)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social realism

Time of work: First half of the nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedOblomov’s apartment

Oblomov’s Oblomovapartment. Residence of Ilya Ilyitch Oblomov on St. Petersburg’s Gorokhovaya Street. Oblomov has settled in so tightly that his apartment has become a prison of his own making. He spends most of each day lying in bed, wrapped in a robe of Asian style, without any hint of the European character Czar Peter the Great had tried to impose upon the Russian aristocracy. Even Oblomov’s manservant, Zakhar, has slipped into the thrall of his master’s lassitude, and the entire apartment has become covered by a layer of dust. Books lie open wherever Oblomov has lost interest in reading them, dusty and often yellowed by exposure to light.

*St. Petersburg

*St. Petersburg. Capital of Imperial Russia, whose northern location is so close to the Arctic Circle that it is subject to extreme variations in the lengths of its days and nights. During the winter, the sun hardly rises before it vanishes again beneath the horizon. Near the summer solstice, the sun hardly sets, creating the “white nights” for which the city is famous. Because of this, St. Petersburg is seen in literature as a city where reality is tenuous at best, where extraordinary things can happen. Although Oblomov lives in the city, he has little contact with the social life of the imperial capital. Occasionally his visitors may mention various activities they plan to attend at prestigious places, but Oblomov cannot find the energy or initiative to leave his bed, let alone go out on the town.

Oblomov’s house

Oblomov’s house. Home in the Vyburg District where Oblomov settles with the landlady who becomes his wife. This dwelling, on the opposite side of the Neva River from the apartment where he lives earlier, is a model of domestic simplicity, in contrast to the high-society dwelling in which his former teacher Scholtz settles with Olga Sergeevna. At first Oblomov’s move represents a break from his former lassitude, and he begins to take initiative in his life once more. However, he eventually has a relapse to his former self and ultimately dies of a stroke in his sleep.

Oblomovka

Oblomovka (oh-BLOH-mov-kah). Oblomov’s rural estate, a rather plain, quiet place in eastern Russia, near the border of Asia, and quite Asian in nature. It is seen only in Oblomov’s lengthy, dreamlike reminiscences and imaginings. There, Oblomov grew up, tended by a peasant nurse who told him fairy tales about a magical ideal bride, tales he came to prefer to practical reality. Oblomovka is also said to be the origin of the malady from which Oblomov suffers, the Oblomovshchina (the-shchina suffix is frequently used in Russian to describe an ill associated with a particular person, place, or thing, for instance: gruppovshchina, ethnic bullying, or Yezhovshchina, the Great Terror, after secret police chief Nikolai Yezhov).

Verklevo

Verklevo (ver-KLEH-voh). Location of Scholtz’s school. Although not far from Oblomovka, the school is utterly unlike the aimless Asiatic idleness of the Oblomov family’s estate. Scholtz, a German, insists upon industry and activity from his pupils, and gives them a broad-based education.

BibliographyAndrews, Larry. “The Spatial Imagery of Oblomovism.” Neophilologus 72, no. 3 (July, 1988): 321-334. Discusses Oblomov’s attitude toward himself and toward the outside world. Unfolds the layers Oblomov wraps around himself and explains his immaturity.Ehre, Milton. Oblomov and His Creator: The Life and Art of Ivan Goncharov. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1973. An excellent starting point for the study of Oblomov, with a lucid, comprehensive analysis of style, structure, themes, and characters. Draws multiple parallels between Goncharov and his creation.Hainsworth, J. D. “Don Quixote, Hamlet and ‘Negative Capability’: Aspects of Goncharov’s Oblomov.” AUMLA: Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 53 (May, 1980): 42-53. Compares the master-servant relationship of Oblomov and Zakhar with that of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Links Oblomov’s and Hamlet’s rationalizations for inactivity.Lyngstad, Alexandra, and Sverre Lyngstad. Ivan Goncharov. Boston: Twayne, 1971. Focuses on Goncharov’s achievement as a novelist. The chapter on Oblomov analyzes the novel and demonstrates Goncharov’s great artistic versatility in depicting Oblomov.Wigzell, Faith. “Dream and Fantasy in Goncharov’s Oblomov.” In From Pushkin to Palisandriia: Essays on the Russian Novel in Honor of Richard Freeborn, edited by Arnold McMillin. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Examines dreams and daydreams of the main characters of the novel. Analyzes dream and fantasy as key elements of the novel.
Categories: Places