Hello! I am flying to Russia tomorrow, so I wanted to post another little book review before I leave! The copy of the novel referenced can be found here.
“I wish I could lie down and go to sleep – for ever!” (384).
Throughout the novel of Oblomov, its main character, Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, suffers from a major life-impacting disease. This so-called affliction has many names: Oblomovitis, Oblomovshchina, Oblomovism, and Oblomovness. No matter the name, it is a disease that preys upon Oblomov– making him a weak, disenchanted man with no taste for living. His symptoms are: laziness, excessive sleeping, immobilization, melancholia, cynicism, and nihilism. From Oblomov once partaking in life’s never-ending scene, he has now resorted to never leaving his apartment and scarcely making it out of bed. There is no clinical diagnosis of Oblomov’s symptoms, but a self-diagnosis that takes his own apathetic nature into account. This is Oblomov’s own self-proclaimed tragedy that blights his existence and reduces his abilities. But Oblomovitis is both nonexistent and not medically demonstrable, leading one to wonder what is real affliction could have been.
Through the novel and real-world criticism, Oblomov is mocked and demeaned through his excessive laziness– especially in part 1 of the novel. He never gets out of bed, has a loss of interest, is easily irritated, etc. In the modern era, a psychologist would explore the possibility that Oblomov suffers from the disability that is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). MDD is a life-impacting disability that can make both its victim and others believe that the person, Oblomov in this case, is merely acting childish or lazy. Oblomov fits in nearly every criteria: anxiety (about the outside world and dampness/coldness), apathy, general discontent, guilt (towards his relationship’s ending with Olga), hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities (writing, reading), mood swings, excess sleepiness, insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, agitation, irritability, social isolation, lack of concentration, slowness in activity, and weight gain.
Oblomov’s life is weighed down by all of these symptoms, making his existence an actual chore for him to endure. If he had lived in a time that emphasizes the importance of clinical psychology, Oblomov could have seen a therapist, taken medication, or spoken to his loved ones about his condition. Of all the novel’s tragedies, perhaps the fact that Oblomov is treated like a lesser-being for something he cannot help is the gravest occurrence of all. He was a man of great ability, but unfortunate in almost every aspect of his existence. Oblomov’s life is to be neither revered nor envied, but instead deserving of compassion.