Illustration by Anastasia Patrina


An excerpt from the novel by Ivan Goncharov

Food was the first and foremost interest in life at Oblomovka. What calves were fattened there for the feast days! What birds were bred! What subtlety, knowledge, and care were needed to rear them! Turkeys and chickens intended for name days and other solemn occasions were fed on nuts; geese were deprived of exercise and forced to hang motionless in a bag for a few days before the feast so that they should get coated with fat. What stores of jams, pickles, biscuits there were! What meads, what kvasses were brewed, what pies were baked at Oblomovka!

And so up to midday all was fuss and bustle, everyone was living the busy, conspicuously active life of an anthill. The industrious ants did not rest on Sundays or holy days either; then the clatter of knives in the kitchen was louder than ever; the woman travelled several times from the storeroom to the kitchen with a double quantity of eggs and flour: there were more shrieks and bloodshed than usual in the poultry yard. A tremendous pie was baked, which was served to the family for two days in succession; on the third and fourth day the remnants descended to the maids’ room; it lasted on till Friday, and at last one stale end without stuffing was handed down by way of special favour to Antip, who, crossing himself, fearlessly demolished the ossified relics, enjoying the consciousness that it was his master’s pie more than the pie itself, just as an archaeologist will enjoy drinking wretched wine out of the fragment of some vessel a thousand years old.