The disease of oblomovka and the boulder of Sisyphus

What does he run after? What does he want from his life? What is his true calling in his life?

Almost hundred pages are spent showing him lying on his bed. Those pages depict how he never steps out of his bed to enter into the rat race of the mundane life. He has a plot of land somewhere in the country side and when an ominous letter reaches his bed, he starts planning to take matters in his hand. He resolves to put an end to the financial crisis he might suffer if he continues to stay on his bed. But can it not wait till he rests his neck on the pillow for sometime. And thus he dozes off to sleep and the letter gets dusted with his intermittent cycle of sleep and resting of his neck.

Oblomov, the protagonist of the novel Oblomov, represents the epitome of slothfulness of mankind. We all at some point in our lives have suffered from the disease of slothfulness, a trait of human beings which disinclines one to exert his energy over trivial matters.

Everything to Oblomov is trivial. The things which people run after- fame, money, love and even literature do not dissuade him from leaving his way of life. He even names that way of life as the disease of Oblomovka.

Fame and money are the two things which people can choose not to have. But love and literature? What does a person do with lots of idle time in his hand? He reads or writes or muse or pursues love for another being.

There were times when Oblomov took a book in his hands but would leave it unattended after reading the first page. He looks at literature as a mere luxury which can be indulged in or done without. He deems literature as a mere instrument to break ennui or lack of employment. In a way he is a rebel. Why would he read something to only while away the time, which he has in ample amount. He chooses not to indulge in such luxury when he has got the luxury of leisure to pursue.

It is not that he never fell in love. He did, with a graceful lady named Olga. Love can change a person. It can ignite passion in one's life. It can set the dice rolling for a better life. A life which everyone desires. A life of leaving the bed for some better purpose. He, then, had a purpose; to meet her, to talk to her, to feel her lovely aura had become the purpose of his life.

.....but love is life and life is a duty, an obligation! believed Olga. God has given her life to follow her duties and responsibilities. Her responsibility at that time was to treat Oblomov of his disease. Yes, she loved Oblomov but in the same way as she loved her life of obligations.

It is better to follow God's will than to follow one's own will, concluded Oblomov. A man of intellect left at the mercy of his own will has to suffer a life of contradiction, doubt and finally stagnation. A man of intellect who knows the futility of efforts and who believes in free will than God's,  might face the slow death of Burdan's ass; the ass who dies at the end by failing to choose between the pail of water and the stack of hay.

But the disease of Oblomovka is such that it made him choose his own will of leading a life of leisure than the God's will of working his ass off. His soul wanted sloth the way someone wants materialistic success. His soul was pure and untainted for he was doing what he wished to do and thus remained untouched by the malice of humanity .But he suffered a lot in his entire journey of leisure. He suffered the loss of his love Olga, the loss of his love for literature (it was implicitly understood that he loved literature in his younger days), the loss of his own country estate and the loss of his own health. He died in pain and anguish but he died doing what he wanted to do.

Do you want to live an idle life like Oblomov or to live under the burden of a boulder like Sisyphus? Either way one has to face sufferings and amidst suffering lies the hope of enlightenment.

I found the novel and its download link on Goodreads. Underneath the Russian literature, there remains unclaimed gems of philosophies and wisdom. This novel has broken my dark clouds of ennui by ironically glamorising the same. As for myself, I choose to be the Sisyphus and I embrace the boulder with as much readiness as Oblomov embraced slothfulness.




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