Oblomovshchina (aka Twitter, circa 1859)


Oblomov is not the best-known or most-read Russian novel.

But it is considered a classic and is still read today, thanks in part to a re-translated edition in 2006.

It also has a place in Russian culture and language – Lenin mentioned it in speeches and essays denouncing the bourgeoisie, and the term oblomovshchina epitomizes “the backwardness, inertia, and futility of 19th-century Russian society.”

Ivan Goncharov’s masterpiece was published in 1859, but a passage on p. 146 could’ve been written today.

Stoltz, Oblomov’s live-life-to-the-fullest friend, is berating him for not keeping up with current events (which is really hard to do when you spend the first 150 pages of the book in bed).

Stoltz: Not a newspaper in sight; don’t you read the papers?

Oblomov: No, the print is too small; bad for the eyes. Anyway, there’s no need; if there’s any news, it’s on everyone’s lips all day long – you can’t help hearing about it.

Me: How do you say Twitter in Russian, anyway?


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