Reasonable Words: Oblomov

Laying about reading about a layabout: Finally got to Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov a relaxed Russian novel about a character who abstains from just about everything. (There’s a beautiful film of the story I saw in college.)

Early in the book, the narrator gives us Oblomov, at the close of his school and civil service career (but still a relatively young man):

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He returned to his seclusion without a store of knowledge which might have given a definite direction to his roving or idle and dreamy thoughts. What did he do, then? Well, he still went on drawing the pattern of his own life. He found in it, not without reason, so much wisdom and poetry that it provided an inexhaustible source of occupation apart from any books and learning. Having given up the service and society, he began to seek another meeting for his existence; he pondered what he could have been destined for, and at last discovered that he could find enough scope for activity in living his own life. He understood that his allotted portion was family happiness and the care of his estate.

I love Ob, not only for making laziness poetic, but because he makes those becalmed, endlessly ruminating Chekhov characters (whom I also hold dear) seem as energized as slides out of a Steven Covey Habits of Highly Effective People PowerPoint.

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