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Ivan Goncharov Edit Profile

also known as Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov

writer

Background

His grandfather, an army clerk, eventually reached a captain's rank; his father, a grain trader, was elected mayor.

Education

In 1820 Goncharov entered a local boarding school and in 1822, the Moscow Commercial School.

He entered the Moscow University in 1831.

Career

After graduation in 1834, he became a functionary to the governor of Simbirsk, and in 1835 he became a translator at the ministry of Foreign Trade in St. Petersburg.

In 1836 he wrote his first tale, The Lucky Error. His first novel, A Common Story (1847), portraying a new positive type of energetic government official whose workmanlike efficiency is contrasted with the fruitless dreams of a youthful hero, was a great success and was enthusiastically welcomed by the critic Belinsky. In 1849, Goncharov published a sketch for a future novel, Oblomov's Dream, a picture of sleepy country life. In 1852 he sailed as a secretary to Admiral Putiatin on the frigate Pallas on a voyage whose object was the establishment of trade relations with Japan, but the Crimean War forced the party to return by land through Siberia. Goncharov published his travel impressions under the title The Frigate Pallas (1858). In 1856 he was appointed a censor at the Ministry of National Education, and at that post he proved a defender of writers' interests. In 1859 his masterpiece, the novel Oblomov, appeared. Its success was immediate, and the very name Oblomov soon became synonymous with the indolence and lack of willpower typical of certain classes of Russian society. In 1865 Goncharov became a member of the Administration of the Press; in 1867 he retired with a pension and with the rank of general. In 1869 he published his last novel, The Precipice, depicting a clash between old and new ideas. Later, he wrote only brief critical reviews and essays, among which the most important is A Million Torments (1872), a brilliant analysis of Griboyedov's comedy The Mischief of Being Clever. Goncharov's novels have been translated into most European languages.