VII
Conclusion

There is a tendency to regard Goncharov--like Swift, or Griboyedov--as a homo unius libri, which is a mistake. It is true that Oblomov represents the height of his creative power. This does not imply, however, that his two other novels are unimportant. They not only have merits of their own, but (as the author himself had pointed out) they form, together with Oblomov, a kind of trilogy showing the social, mental and moral climate of Russia during one of the most interesting transition periods in her history. Yet however superb his portraits and their setting, we cannot help feeling in him a certain incongruity between his strong sense of reality (or realities) on the one hand, and his sense of values on the other. Had the latter been adequate to the deeper social needs of the time in which he lived, he might have avoided at least some of the misunderstandings he suffered from in his old age.

Fortunately, it is not this aspect of his work that matters to us at present, however interesting it may be if seen in its historical perspective. What is important to us here and now is Goncharov's art, i.e. his interpretation of life in terms of fiction. It was in his fine description of human characters and of human relations that he transcended his own epoch. The things he said about them, as well as the manner in which he said them, have not lost their significance, however remote their setting may be from us both in space and time. In short, Goncharov the creative novelist is still alive. While remaining one of the leading figures in Russian literature, he also occupies a niche of his own in the literature of the world. What is best in his work is strong and vital enough to justify such a claim.

-60-

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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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