Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov was one of the leading members of the great circle of Russian writers who, in the middle of the nineteenth century, gathered around the SOVREMMENIK (Contemporary) under Nekrasov's editorship -- a circle including Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Byelinsky and Herzen. He had not the marked genius of the first three of these; but that he is so much less known to the western reader is perhaps also due to the fact that there was nothing sensational either in his life or his literary method. His strength was in the steady delineation of character, conscious of, but not deeply disturbed by, the problems which were obsessing and distracting smaller and greater minds. Goncharov had passed many years in Governmental service and had, in fact, reached the age of thirty-five when his first work, "A Common Story," was published. "The Frigate Pallada," which followed, is a lengthy descriptive account of an official expedition to Japan and Siberia in which Goncharov took part. After the publication of "The Precipice," its author was moved to write an essay, "Better Late Than Never," in which he attempted to explain that the purpose of his three novels was to present the eternal struggle between East and West -- the lethargy of the Russian and the ferment of foreign influences. Thus he ranged himself more closely with the great figures among his contemporaries. Two other volumes consist of critical study and reminiscence.