By Ivan Goncharov.

When searching for an image to go with this post I found the website of Anastasia Simes. There are some interesting pieces of work.

As for Oblomov – what a great novel. There are quite a few separate parts to it, which makes me think it was written over time and each part of Oblomov’s life was approached as quite distinct. Probably my favourite ‘Act’ is the beginning where Oblomov lounges around, waxes philosophical, takes visitors and is quite unable to move and motivate himself to do anything. This is masterful writing and while I really enjoyed the book it doesn’t quite live up to the promise shown at the start. Or, maybe it does – but it just becomes something different. So, another writer to read more of and he is Russian of course. The Precipice, another of his novels, looks interesting also.

I wasn’t sure about Goncharov as he was referred to as being quite conservative and middle-class by some commentators. Oblomov, however, is a fantastic character and maybe Goncharov’s greatest creation and this book deserves to be read and re-read as a result. Turgenev said: “As long as there is even just one Russian alive, Oblomov will be remembered!”

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A Guide to Russian Literature (1820-1917)

By Moissaye Joseph Olgin.

This book was excellent primarily because it highlighted a whole host of lesser-known Russian writers. As a result, I’ve made a list of all those that seem interesting and a good many are available in the public domain. This analysis was published in 1920 and you can tell. There is much revisionism of certain writers to be consistent with the communist perspective. Olgin was a life-long communist living in the US until his death in 1939. This was well worth my time reading – even if the tone and way of writing seemed a little dated and partial. What is strange is that I didn’t detect anything like this in Mirsky who I read recently and was writing non-fiction at about the same time. Apparently Mirsky’s analysis of Russian Literature is the one to read.


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Footnotes in Gaza

By Joe Sacco.

I have never read anything like this – a graphic novel which is also political and researched. Joe Sacco lived in Gaza and interviewed hundreds of people about two atrocities which occurred in 1956. Alongside this we have the narrative of his research which encompasses the political situation at the time of writing. The resulting graphic novel is hugely impressive for its complexity, craft and documentary evidence. The drawings are superb and to Sacco’s credit he canvasses both sides of the story and highlights the problems with older memories as testimony. The result is a work in which his opinion is evident but one that points out issues in both sides. I now know so much more about this conflict. The plight of those victimised for generations is quite unbelievable.

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