One of the key characters in Russian literature – Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, the personification of idleness and time-wasting – has inspired a one-off festival in the city of Ulyanovsk.
For reasons best known to its residents, Oblomov is said to be especially popular in the old city which lies on the Volga River about 900 kilometers from Moscow. Ulyanovsk is also the birthplace of the father of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin, as well as of Oblomov’s literary “father”, wordsmith Ivan Goncharov.
Goncharov’s signature character from a novel that Leo Tolstoy once described as “a truly great work, the likes of which one has not seen for a long, long time,” reflects the Russian national character like no other work of fiction.
Set at the beginning of the 19th century, the masterpiece revolves around a young aristocrat, Oblomov, who is incapable of either making any decisions, nor of taking any action.
Staying all day long in bed, dreaming and putting off for tomorrow what can be done today, Oblomov’s bone idle lifestyle inspired a new term in the Russian language – “Oblomovism.”
The motto of the unconventional festival which is now in full swing in Ulyanovsk is “Get off the sofa!” urging the city’s residents, especially its younger ones, to fight idleness in order not to emulate the famous “Prince of laziness”.
The festival’s menu is awash with various sport contests and art exhibitions scattered in forty venues across the city.