The article attempts to reconstruct the controversy between N. A. Dobrolyubov and N. G. Chernyshevsky about the socio-political content of the novel “Oblomov” by I. A. Goncharov. The analysis of the thinkers’ views on the problem of Russian life, which after the release of the novel received the stable name “Oblomovism”, is given. According to the results of the study, the author concluded that the views of the leading critics of the Sovremennik magazine on the public importance of the novel turned out to be opposite. Dobrolyubov in 1859 wrote an article “What is Oblomovism?” in which he tried to convince his readers that “Oblomov” is a “useful” book, ridiculing laziness and indifference to “public issues”. Chernyshevsky, however, refused to write a review. In all probability he regarded the novel to be “harmful”, idealizing the patriarchal way of life.