The Frigate Pallada

Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (649p) ISBN 978-0-312-00599-3
After his novel Oblomov brought him fame, Goncharov was invited by the czarist government to join in a globe-girdling voyage, the aim of which was to open Japan to Russian trading. This 752-page log of his expedition on the three-masted schooner Pallada is travel writing in the grand tradition, mingling close-up observation, adventure and history. Strategically, the voyage was a failure. The Russians were first rebuffed, later treated more cordially after Commodore Perry's U.S. mission had softened the Japanese. But the Crimean War broke out and Goncharov was abandoned in remotest Siberia, to make his way back home on his own. Presented here in its first complete English translation, the travelogue records his experiences in South Africa where tensions between Dutch, English and blacks simmered; a stopover in England, where he found life too mechanical; firsthand impressions of British colonialism in Shanghai, Singapore's seedy opium dens, drinking wine on Madeira, much else. Goncharov's gift as a master stylist comes through in translation.(September 24)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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