Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov (1812-1891) was a Russian novelist best known as the author of Oblomov (1859). He was born in Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk). He was one of the leading members of the great circle of Russian writers. He was less known to the western reader perhaps due to the fact that there was nothing sensational either in his life or his literary method. His strength was in the steady delineation of character, conscious of, but not deeply disturbed by, the problems which were obsessing and distracting smaller and greater minds. In 1847, Goncharov's first novel, Obyknovennaia Istoriia (usually translated into English as A Common Story), was published; it dealt with the conflicts between the excessive Romanticism of a young Russian nobleman and the emerging commercial class of the Imperial capital with its sober pragmatism. It was followed by Ivan Savvich Podzhabrin (1848), a naturalist psychological sketch.

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