novel written by a great author (which need not be exactly the same as a great novel). It abounds in unforgettable pictures of provincial life, in fine characterization and in some of the best descriptions of the Volga landscapes that ever came from Goncharov's or any other pen. Its vitality has, moreover, been proved by its survival. Even in Soviet Russia new editions of The Ravine continue to entertain not thousands but millions of readers.


V
Expedition, Reminiscences and Polemics

I

Apart from the trilogy discussed, Goncharov has to his credit the important non-fictional Fregat Pallada (Frigate Pallas) which in bulk at least outstrips even his last and longest novel. Excellent though it be from a literary standpoint, this book is yet a paradox; for it gives a most unexciting (but far from boring) account of a most exciting experience. It describes nothing less than Goncharov's sea journey to the Far East and Japan on the Russian frigate Pallas at a time when Japan was still closed to European influences and largely also to European contacts in general. The Russian frigate, with some five hundred men aboard, was sent there on a trade mission--a journey which in those days was not only very long but very hazardous and full of unexpected trials and adventures. In spite of his love of comfort, Goncharov accepted all that,' and once the expedition was finished, he summed up his impressions of that two- years' long venture in a book which has since become a classic of its kind.

In his preface to the third edition ( 1870) of Frigate Pallas the author says that its genesis was due mainly to the letters he had been sending to various friends at home. The letters were completed by sketches, comments, meditations, and above all by extracts from the diaries he kept writing during the expedition. Most of the material was first published in periodicals; then it was collected, enlarged, and in 1858--about a year before

____________________
1
It was actually Goncharov's friend, the poet Apollon Maikov, who was first invited to join the expedition as secretary to its leader Admiral Putyatin, but as he could not go, Gonchrov went in his place.

-47-

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Goncharov
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • I - A Biographical Survey 9
  • IV - The Ravine 27
  • V - Expedition, Reminiscences and Polemics 37
  • VI - Goncharov's Realism 47
  • VII - Conclusion 60
  • Biographical Note 61
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