Oblomov, protagonist of an eponymous 19th century novel by Goncharov, is a study, at least for the first third of the book, in apathy and all round laziness.  While he is occasionally annoying, at the same time, Goncharov’s account of his idleness is engaging partly because most of us are probably guilty of some aspects of it. 

The example below reminded me of moments in my life when I was meant to write a report or an essay, and realizing there was ‘only’ a given stretch of time before lunch, dinner, whatever, it suddenly seemed impossible to begin, allowing the mind to trick itself into further procrastination. 

And of course, while there’s no time for the task in hand, there is time to snooze…

Only two hours left before dinner, and what can one do in two hours?  Nothing.  And there’s lots to be done. Oh well, I shall have to put off my letter till the next post and jot down the plan to-morrow.  And now I’ll lie down for an hour: I’m worn out. 

Source: Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov, trans. David Magarshack (London: Penguin, 1954 (1859)), p. 99

Image credit: Pavel Fedotov (1815-52), ‘Breakfast of an Aristocrat’, public domain


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