Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Ilya Ilyitch Oblomov is a Russian landowner brought up to do nothing. As a child he was pampered by his parents, even to the point where a valet put on and took off his shoes and stockings for him. The elder Oblomovs lived a bovine existence. Their land, maintained by three hundred serfs, provided them with plenty of money. Their days were taken up with eating and sleeping; they did nothing until an absolute necessity arose.
The chief influence on Oblomov during his childhood came from a German, a steward on a neighboring estate, who acted also as a tutor. Young Oblomov went to school at his home and there found his only boyhood friend, the German’s son, Andrey Stolz. When the boys grew up, their lives seemed from the first destined to different ends. Stolz was sent off by his father with a few resources to make his way in the world, but among those resources was a great deal of practical experience. Within a few years, Stolz was able to amass considerable wealth for himself and to become a respected, vital businessman.
Oblomov, on the other hand, finished college after doing only enough work to get his diploma. He then became a clerk in a government office, one of the few positions considered an honorable post for a gentleman in Russia. Before three years elapsed he resigned from his post, ostensibly because of ill health but actually because he could not bring himself to accomplish all his duties; he felt that the work was simply too much...
(The entire section is 1162 words.)
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