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Doctor Zhivago

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Author: Boris Pasternak

Published: March 18th 1997 by Pantheon (first published November 1957)

Format: Paperback , 592 pages

Isbn: 9780679774389

Language: English


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This epic tale about the effects of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath on a bourgeois family was not published in the Soviet Union until 1987. One of the results of its publication in the West was Pasternak's complete rejection by Soviet authorities; when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 he was compelled to decline it. The book quickly became an This epic tale about the effects of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath on a bourgeois family was not published in the Soviet Union until 1987. One of the results of its publication in the West was Pasternak's complete rejection by Soviet authorities; when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 he was compelled to decline it. The book quickly became an international best-seller. Dr. Yury Zhivago, Pasternak's alter ego, is a poet, philosopher, and physician whose life is disrupted by the war and by his love for Lara, the wife of a revolutionary. His artistic nature makes him vulnerable to the brutality and harshness of the Bolsheviks. The poems he writes constitute some of the most beautiful writing featured in the novel.

30 review for Doctor Zhivago

  1. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    When I read this in my early twenties it went straight into my top ten favourite novels. All the ravishing set pieces of snow, the high adventure of the long train journeys through spectacular landscapes and Yuri and Lara as the romantically bound orphans of the storm was irresistible to my romantic young imagination. On top of that, as you’d expect from a poet, the novel is alive with memorable piercing images. This was my third time of reading it. I still loved it but it would no longer make m When I read this in my early twenties it went straight into my top ten favourite novels. All the ravishing set pieces of snow, the high adventure of the long train journeys through spectacular landscapes and Yuri and Lara as the romantically bound orphans of the storm was irresistible to my romantic young imagination. On top of that, as you’d expect from a poet, the novel is alive with memorable piercing images. This was my third time of reading it. I still loved it but it would no longer make my top ten or even twenty. I began to suspect it might be a novel you love less the older you get. There were moments where I found Pasternak's vision closer to that of an overly romantic young man, a lover, rather than a husband or father. Nabokov famously called it dreary and conventional. For someone so astute at always coming up with the right word “dreary” is decidedly off the mark. Pasternak packs into his novel two revolutions, two world wars and a famine. In fact it’s hard to think of any country in the history of the world that has gone through such a series of traumatic events in such a short period. Pasternak does a terrific job of condensing all these events into theatre. There are no more characters in this novel than in a play. And as in a play all characters continue to interact with each other in a self-contained world. This of course demands a number of far-fetched coincidences but these are embroidered together with such artistry that not once did I have a problem of suspending disbelief. He does this by designing a floorplan in which the idea of predestination is the science that holds everything together. I was thinking while reading this that serious authors no longer tend to write romantic self-portraits of themselves. After Fitzgerald and Hemingway the trend began to die out. Perhaps because the person we least know in any objective sense is ourselves and to write about yourself, especially from a romantic perspective, is to risk portraying as qualities what most see as faults. This is true of Yuri who comes across as pompous and ineffectual at times which I’m not sure Pasternak meant. To be honest I’m not sure how similar Yuri is to Pasternak but because they are both poets there’s often the feeling he’s writing about himself. Fitzgerald after all denied Dick Diver was a self-portrait when clearly this was a smokescreen. And like Dick Diver Yuri isn’t terribly convincing as a doctor either. Not convincing, in other words, whenever Pasternak tries to distance him from himself. Not that this matters much in either case. Dr Zhivago could be seen as the most elaborate justification of adultery every written. I doubt if it’s any hard core feminist’s favourite novel. This time around I wasn’t convinced about his women. He seems to idealise women rather than understand them, often putting his own words into their mouths. Tonya’s letter to Yuri when she finds out he’s betrayed her is almost comical in its flattering appeal to his vanity and understanding of Lara’s advantages over her own. What woman would tell her man she makes things simple and acknowledge her rival complicates them? That’s like admitting you’re duller than your rival. You might fear it but never would you say it, at least not in the calm moderated charming way Tonya does. This voice of reason on the part of Tonya while the entire country is a bloodbath of irrational hatred jars. Pasternak means well when he writes about women but like many educated man of his generation can come across as patronising. Pasternak will also show how public life and its etiquette, its conventions, can corrupt the personal life. In the old world his marriage to Tonya is a rational decision – they’re from the same class, share a similar education and have much in common. And yet the lower class Lara is better suited to him. But it takes the revolution for them to meet on equal terms. Ironically then, for all his criticism of the revolution, he’s recognising it introduced a broader prospect for love between soulmates while before love was principally confined to social equals. Komarovsky is a key character to understanding what Pasternak thought of the revolution in broad terms. Komarovsky begins the novel as a predatory entrepreneur who enjoys the good life. After all the passionate idealism, the killing and sacrifice and starvation Komarovsky loses not one iota of his power. The unscrupulous mercenary will always come out on top. And maybe it’s this accurate but rather unadventurous idea which runs through the novel that explains why Nabokov found the novel dreary. On the other hand maybe he was just bitching about a rival. Once again I read the old translation which has been roundly criticised. I read somewhere that the translator read a page and then set about translating it without again glancing at it. In other word he went for the gist rather than the rhythm. There’s a new one now that is apparently much better.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nataliya

    There was no way I could ever escape reading Doctor Zhivago. After all, I'm a proud daughter of a literature teacher; this book earned the Nobel Prize for Boris Pasternak; and it has been staring at me from the top of my to-read pile for years with quiet accusation. And so, reader, I finally read it. Doctor Zhivago is an interesting novel. It is very character-centered but is absolutely *not* character-driven. It is an epochal novel focused on the particularly turbulent, violent and uncertain but There was no way I could ever escape reading Doctor Zhivago. After all, I'm a proud daughter of a literature teacher; this book earned the Nobel Prize for Boris Pasternak; and it has been staring at me from the top of my to-read pile for years with quiet accusation. And so, reader, I finally read it. Doctor Zhivago is an interesting novel. It is very character-centered but is absolutely *not* character-driven. It is an epochal novel focused on the particularly turbulent, violent and uncertain but yet future-defining era in Russian history - the time frame around the Russian Revolution and the following years of brutality and confusion in the Russian Civil War. The driving forces of the story are the frequently senseless and almost always cruel historical events, a greater force against which the efforts and intentions and agency itself of the characters are pathetically, frustratingly helpless and futile. It is really a story of individual fates trampled under the relentlessly rolling forward bulldozer of history.What may surprise some people who via the phenomenon of 'cultural osmosis' may know of this story as one of the greatest stories of forbidden and doomed love ever written (or something of similar sort, a misunderstanding perhaps perpetuated by the 1960s screen adaptation of this book), the love story is a quite small part of the overall plot. Don't read it for the pangs of unrequited love or the tension of the love triangle - the disappointment is sure to come if those are your expectations.Boris Pasternak, with the bravery not encouraged in the Soviet Union, seemed to be not only acutely aware of the historical forces relentlessly driving the lives of his compatriots but also - which was definitely unacceptable and a few years prior to the completion of the novel, under the ever-increasing paranoia of Josef Stalin's rule, would have been in the best-case scenario punished by quite a few years in GULAG concentration camps in the depths of Siberia - recognized the absolute senselessness of so much if what had happened. His courage in expressing such views paid off in the form Nobel Prize that he was successfully pressured to reject back in 1958; the Nobel Prize that was given as we know now not just for the merits of the novel itself but for what it represented - a daring slap in the face of the Soviet system both despised and feared in the Western world.While I'm at it, I'd like to make sure I get across that while being quite skeptical about the October Socialist Revolution and its consequences, Pasternak was definitely not even close to being starry-eyed or wearing rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia when it came to the old way of living in Russia, the world shattered by the events of the revolution. He never leaves a doubt that the old world order needed to be changed, that the change was both necessary and organically expected; but the direction the change took was painfully brutal and, perhaps, less than ideal, and those who have suffered from such a radical change were perhaps the best people Russia had at that time - but their value has not made them any less vulnerable to the unrelenting march of time and dictatorship of proletariat. "It's only in bad novels that people are divided into two camps and have nothing to do with each other. In real life everything gets mixed up! Don't you think you'd have to be a hopeless nonentity to play only one role all your life, to have only one place in society, always to stand for the same thing?"Yes, Pasternak clearly had strong views on what has happened and continued to happen. No surprise he used his novel to express them. Therefore you do get pages and pages of beautifully expressed opinions in the form of passionate speeches. These pages are both wonderful since they are so insightful and interesting and full of understanding of internal and external conflicts that go into the formation of these opinions - as well as actually detrimental to the novel in the way we usually think of novels, since there is little dialog as such, most of it replaced by passionate oration. These speeches hinder the narrative flow and introduce early on the feeling of artificialness, never allowing you to forget that this novel is a construction that serves the author's purpose rather than being an organic story. "No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history's organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries." The character development also suffers from the focus on the greater external events. I could never shake off the feeling that the characters were present as merely the vehicles for driving the story to where the author wanted it to go; they never developed into real people for me, instead remaining the illustrations of Pasternak's points and the mouthpieces for his ideas. In short, to me even 600 pages in, they remained little but obedient marionettes. Besides, what I found a bit distracting and ringing of contrivance was the sheer amount of coincidences and unbelievable run-ins into each other that all his characters experienced in the vast reaches of the Russian empire with more frequency that one would expect from neighbors in a tiny village. The web of destiny with these improbable consequences tends to disintegrate into the strings holding up puppets, and that's unfortunate in such a monumental book. And Pasternak's prose - it left me torn. On one hand, his descriptions are apt and beautiful, making scenes come to life with exceptional vividness. On the other hand, his descriptors and sentences frequently tend to clash, marring otherwise beautiful picture. The reason these occurrences stand out so much to me is perhaps the knowledge of Pasternak's absolute brilliance as a poet, so easily seen in the collection of poems accompanying this novel. It's amazing to me to see the level of mastery he shows in his verse - the poem 'A Winter Night' colloquially known as simply "The Candle Burned" after its famous refrain is one of the best poems I know, honestly, and "Hamlet" is made of pure perfection - and therefore a bit disappointing to see it not always repeated in his prose.Sadly, despite my way-too-long obsessive internet search I could not come across a translation of these poems that came even close to doing justice to their brilliance. It's very unfortunate, but I guess some things need to be experienced only in the original. A good reason to learn Russian, right?And yet despite the imperfections and the unevenness there is still something in this novel that reflects the genius talent that created it. There is still something that did not let me put this book aside even when I realized I did not love it as much as I had hoped. The greatness is still there, despite the flaws, and it remains something to be admired. 3/5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I sometimes stroke my copy of Doctor Zhivago gently. I doubt I will find time to reread it soon, but it is one of those books I like to think I will read again, some day, even though it is written into my heart already, and has stayed there firmly ever since it first entered it decades ago. Is it better than any other of the "masterpieces of world literature"? Probably not. But it is something deeply, deeply personal. Something that affects the human core of the reader beyond any compassion for I sometimes stroke my copy of Doctor Zhivago gently. I doubt I will find time to reread it soon, but it is one of those books I like to think I will read again, some day, even though it is written into my heart already, and has stayed there firmly ever since it first entered it decades ago. Is it better than any other of the "masterpieces of world literature"? Probably not. But it is something deeply, deeply personal. Something that affects the human core of the reader beyond any compassion for lost love and broken hope in political change. There is something heartwarming and wonderful about poetry written in the crystal clear cold of Russian winter. There is something beyond the mere storytelling in Doctor Zhivago that makes me want to caress the words that make up the journey of a doctor whose life stayed individual in the dystopian reality of the Russian Revolution and beyond, whose heart kept making him feel alive despite the cold of the era he lived through: "I have the impression that if he didn't complicate his life so needlessly, he would die of boredom." Complicating life is filling it with meaning. Nobody can take that away from us, no matter what our circumstances are. Dare to live, dare to be a poet. Dare to be you. I love this novel to bits, and I also love the old movie, which is so unusual for me that I can't think of any other book/film congruency in my life. But Omar Sharif has just the required life complication in his eyes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    This is a timeless masterpiece. While many readers are going to love this book, I think others will find themselves bogged down by its many details. Certainly those readers who enjoy primarily plot driven novels are going to be frustrated by the dreamy Doctor Zhivago.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    486. До́ктор Жива́го = Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago is a novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957 in Italy. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. The plot of Doctor Zhivago is long and intricate. It can be difficult to follow for two main reasons: first, Pasternak employs many characters, who interact with each other throughout the book in unpredictable ways, 486. До́ктор Жива́го = Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago is a novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957 in Italy. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. The plot of Doctor Zhivago is long and intricate. It can be difficult to follow for two main reasons: first, Pasternak employs many characters, who interact with each other throughout the book in unpredictable ways, and second, he frequently introduces a character by one of his/her three names, then subsequently refers to that character by another of the three names or a nickname, without expressly stating that he is referring to the same character. دکتر ژیواگو - بوریس پاسترناک (ساحل) ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین تماشای فیلم و سپس خوانش کتاب: ماه دسامبر سال 1969 میلادی؛ عنوان: دکتر ژیواگو؛ نویسنده: بوریس پاسترناک؛ مترجم: علی محیظ؛ ترجمه از متن انگلیسی؛ تهران، دریا، 1337؛ در 560 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1342؛ چاپ سوم 1343؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، کتابفروشی سیروس، 1337، در 549 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، گنجینه، چاپ هشتم 1361؛ در 560 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، ساحل، 1369، در 560 ص؛ شابک: 9646495184؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، دادار، 1380، در 560 ص، شابک: 9647294204؛ چاپ سیزدهم 1382؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، سمیر، دبیر، 1386؛ در 508 ص؛ شابک: 9789648940466؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، ساحل، چاپ چهاردهم 1390، در 630 ص؛ شابک: 9789646495180؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسنگان روسیه - سده 20 م مترجم: علی اصغر خبره زاده؛ تهران، اطلاعات، 1338، در 312 ص؛ تهران، پیروز، 1362؛ در 756 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نگاه، شباهنگ، 1392؛ در 840 ص؛ شابک: 9789643517335؛ مترجم: کامران بهمنی؛ تهران، واژه، 1382، در 161 ص؛ شابک: 9645607434؛ چاپ دوم 1384؛ چاپ سوم 1388؛ مترجمها: داریوش شاهین؛ سوسن اردکانی؛ تهران، نگارستان، 1380، در 1003 ص؛ شابک: 9786005541120؛ چاپ دیگر: قم، نظاره، 1396، در 1014 ص؛ شابک: 9786008394990؛ مترجم: مریم وکیل زاده؛ تهران، البرز فردانش، 1396، در 800 ص؛ شابک: 9786002025197؛ نام کتاب برگرفته از شخصیت نخست کتاب –یک دکتر شاعر– است. درونمایه ی داستان، زندگی مردی ست که عاشق دو زن است، و این همزمان با انقلاب اکتبر 1917 میلادی روسیه، و جنگ داخلی در کشور شوراهاست. رخدادهای بیرونی از دسترس ایشان به دور هستند و مسیر زندگی­ اش را دگرگون می‌سازند. در سال 1965 میلادی «دیوید لین»، با اقتباس و از روی این کتاب، فیلمی به همین نام ساختند، و در سال 2005 میلادی هم، در روسیه با اقتباس از متن کتاب، یک سریال ساخته شد. نوشتن کتاب در سال 1956 میلادی، پایان یافته بود، ولی به دلیل مخالفت «بوریس پاسترناک» با سیاست­های رسمی دولت شوروی در آن سال­ها، اجازه ی نشر کتاب را، در آن کشور نیافت. در سال 1957 میلادی، ناشری ایتالیایی آنرا در ایتالیا چاپ کرد، و نویسنده جایزه ی نوبل گرفتند. کتاب در سال 1988 میلادی، در روسیه نیز به چاپ رسید. در ایران هم چاپ پنجم از ترجمه جناب «علی محیط» به سال 1342 هجری خورشیدی، نایاب بود، اما نسخه ی دیگری نیز یافتم، که با ترجمه ی جناب «علی ­اصغر خبره ­زاده»، توسط انتشارات پیروز چاپ ششم­ اش به سال 1362 هجری خورشیدی منتشر شده است. اینهم نقل از متن ترجمه ی جناب «علی محیط»: روی یکی از برانکاردها، مردی خوابیده بود، که پایش به طرز وحشیانه­ ای، قطع شده بود. تراشه ­ای از یک خمپاره، زبان و لب او را تبدیل به توده­ ای از گوشت سرخ کرده بود، و با وجود این هنوز زنده بود. جمجمه­ اش، روی استخوان­های فکش، جائی که گونه­ ها دریده بودند، استوار بود. ناله ­های او کوتاه، و غیرانسانی بودند، هیچکس نمی­توانست تعبیری برای این ناله­ ها بنماید، جز اینکه او می­خواست هرچه زودتر به زندگی­ اش خاتمه داده، و به آن شکنجه ی ابدی پایان داده شود.....؛ لحظه ­ای بعد، هنگامیکه این مجروح بدبخت را، از پلکان بالا می­بردند، فریادی کشید، و با یک تکان شدید، بی­حرکت شد، او مرده بود. پایان نقل از متن. بوریس پاسترناک، دکتر ژیواگو، ترجمه جناب علی محیط، نشر گنجینه، 1361 هجری خورشیدی. ا. شربیانی

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Before getting to indulge in this Russian epic, I had to decide what translation to go for. For me, this was a big deal, whether to choose the more reader friendly version, or, a newer translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky that sticks closer to Pasternak's original difficult text. I went for the latter simply because if this is how Pasternak wrote it, then I wanted to read it in the purest form. Even if it meant not sitting in the comfort zone for much of the time. Both Pevear an Before getting to indulge in this Russian epic, I had to decide what translation to go for. For me, this was a big deal, whether to choose the more reader friendly version, or, a newer translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky that sticks closer to Pasternak's original difficult text. I went for the latter simply because if this is how Pasternak wrote it, then I wanted to read it in the purest form. Even if it meant not sitting in the comfort zone for much of the time. Both Pevear and Volokhonsky have worked on much of Dostoyevsky's work, and received translation accolades in the process. I scored this top marks yes, but one thing is certain. I will definitely have to read it again, for a broader and richer experience. I spent half the time thinking so hard about something that went before, and lost track somewhat with the present. There was just so much to take in, even though I read in huge chunks, without distractions, slowly and methodically, it still felt overwhelming. All the signs are there for one heck of a remarkable novel, but I couldn't help feel my hands were only brushing gently over a layer of snow, rather than thrust deeper into all that coldness. The result though, after it's first outing, still remains a special one. Doctor Zhivago opens in the first years of the century, spans the revolution, civil war and terror of the thirties, and ends with an epilogue in the mid-1940s. On a level far deeper than politics and with a strength and sterility that must remove all doubts, it persuades us that the yearning for freedom remains indestructible. Quietly and resolutely Pasternak speaks for the sanctity of human life, turning to those eternal questions which made the Russian novel so magnificent, and he seems to have made a lot of other world-renowned novels seem that little bit more trivial. Pasternak spent ten years up to 1955 working on Doctor Zhivago, he considered it the work that justified not only his own life, but that of fellow Russians who had perished through decades of war. And one thing I can't yet decide on, is whether this is a love story set against the backdrop of war, or a war story set against the backdrop of love. Both play so heavily throughout, yet not one stands out beyond the other. It's little surprise to me that in 1958 rumours began circulating that Pasternak was a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize, which he rightly won. The Academy cited him for an important achievement, in the novel, his contemporary lyrical poetry, and the field of Russian traditions. His vision here is essentially defined by real presence, by the intense physical and emotional sensations of his main characters. Whilst these characters internally are some of the best I have ever come across, it's also worth noting just how important a role the landscape plays. His descriptions here are nothing short of spectacular. I still feel the chill, the snow, the wind, and the big thaw. Pasternak captivates in his characters fallacy, in his world the inanimate nature constantly participates in the action, but there is no historical or psychological analysis in the narrative, no running commentary on the causes of events, or the motives behind the person. This was a masterstroke in creating a deep feeling of the chaos that surrounds them at every turn during the second half of the novel. There is a lot of random movement for no particular reason, chance encounters, sudden out nowhere disruptions, trams and trains coming to an abrupt halt, and the breakdown of communication between all those caught up in the upheavals of war. He portrays happenings as they happen, sometimes right in the middle of something else. And although this may not be music to ears of all, I can fully appreciate just what he set out to achieve, in keeping things as realistic as possible. When you think of civil war, revolutions, and political terror, how on earth can you expect things to run smoothly? And that brings me on to the names, which took some getting use to. The principle characters all go by different names at different points. Sometimes their names would even change mid-sentence. For example, Zhivago ( Yuri Andreievich, Yura, or Yurochka). His wife Tonya (Antonia, Alexandrovna, or Tonechka) and his lover Lara (Larissa, Larochka, Antipova, Gromeko). There is also an extraordinary play with the names of minor characters, they are plausible, but often barely so. Some have oddly specific meaning. Some are so long that for the Russianless reader it has the ability to cause headaches. On places used, some like Moscow are obviously real, but out in the Urals fictional places exist. And there is a big difference in these worlds. One, more historically accurate, the other, almost takes on the feel of folklore. The novel moves around, one place to another and back again, creating a double sense of time, it never stands still. Even when people are just sitting, or in the arms of one another. Once Pasternak reaches the revolutionary period, the novel becomes a kind of spiritual biography, still rich in social references but primarily the record of a mind struggling for survival. What now matters most is the personal fate of Zhivago and his relationships with two other characters, Lara, the woman who is to be the love of his life, and Strelnikov, a partisan leader who exemplifies all of the ruthless revolutionary will that Zhivago lacks. Zhivago's time as a family man and doctor are long gone, and thinking back to the novel's opening sections feels like it was read in another life. Even though it was only a few weeks ago. The huge scale of the story is simply exceptional. There is a section of some twenty pages towards the end that seem to me one of the greatest pieces of imaginative prose written in our time. It soars to a severe and tragic gravity, the likes of which haven't affected me this much before. What Begins as a portrait of Russia, would end as a love story told with the force and purity that's never to be forgotten. A book of truth, of courage, of wisdom, and of beauty, a stunning work of art, where one's final thought is nothing less than a feeling of deep respect for both novel and writer. This version concludes with the 'poems of Yuri Zhivago', which polishes off perfectly the immensely felt novel that went before.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    There is one edition of Doctor Zhivago whose cover boasts that it is 'one of the greatest love stories ever told'. In fact, that one tagline is what almost put me off reading this epic novel from Russian master-poet Boris Pasternak. This is a hefty book. I didn't want to dedicate all my time to a soppy love story. Thankfully, calling Doctor Zhivago a 'love story' is like saying Crime and Punishment is about the perils of being a pawnbroker. Doctor Zhivago is a vast novel. Like most great Russian There is one edition of Doctor Zhivago whose cover boasts that it is 'one of the greatest love stories ever told'. In fact, that one tagline is what almost put me off reading this epic novel from Russian master-poet Boris Pasternak. This is a hefty book. I didn't want to dedicate all my time to a soppy love story. Thankfully, calling Doctor Zhivago a 'love story' is like saying Crime and Punishment is about the perils of being a pawnbroker. Doctor Zhivago is a vast novel. Like most great Russian novels, there is a large cast of characters (all of whom go by at least three different names) and many chapters in which a whole lot of nothing happens. Therefore, being a masochist at heart, I just adored it. There is nothing I love more in a book than pages and pages of nothing, and Doctor Zhivago delivers nothingness in abundance. For example there is a whole chapter just set in a train carriage. Over fifty pages we spend in that carriage. Nothing happens. And it's brilliant. If one insists of a plot synopsis then it is a story of Doctor Yuri Zhivago and his attempt to keep his life together as his country crumbles around him. Pasternak's politics are very much at play throughout the novel. The book was famously banned from publication in the Soviet Union and it is no surprise why. Overall I read this work as a searing critique of the modern Soviet state and the bloodshed from which it grew. Pasternak does not side with either the Whites or the Red, both destroyed Zhivago's beloved country. At times Zhivago does become somewhat of a mouthpiece for Pasternak, especially near the end of the novel where it becomes a brutal critique of everything from War Communism to the NEP to Collectivisation. I would suggest a somewhat sound knowledge of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath is needed for this novel, as the entire plot is based around the formation of the Soviet state. I really enjoyed my time with Doctor Zhivago. It is an epic tale of an epic time in modern history. It is throughly readable and wholly enjoyable (something which you can't often vouch for with Russian literature). I would recommend this for Russian lit beginners as it gets the balance of plot and philosophy just right (something which Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy often fail to do).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kinga

    This is going to be a difficult review to write as I have developed a real love-hate relationship with this book. It is an epic story about a man, who is supposed to be this tragic hero separated from the women he loved by the cruel times of revolution and civil war. If you ask me, he was just a … (fill in with your favourite word for describing a man with commitment and fidelity issues). I guess we can interpret the whole storyline as a metaphor of that period of Russian history, in which case This is going to be a difficult review to write as I have developed a real love-hate relationship with this book. It is an epic story about a man, who is supposed to be this tragic hero separated from the women he loved by the cruel times of revolution and civil war. If you ask me, he was just a … (fill in with your favourite word for describing a man with commitment and fidelity issues). I guess we can interpret the whole storyline as a metaphor of that period of Russian history, in which case it all makes sense but still doesn't make it „one of the greatest love stories ever told” as advertised on the cover. The first hundred pages of the book are devoted to introducing at length, dozens of characters. You struggle to remember their various names, surnames, patronymics, nicknames and connection with each other only to realise later on that they are never to reappear in the novel. I am not sure what the point of that was, especially when subsequently important events in main characters lives are summarized in a few sentences or omitted altogether. On top of that we have multitudes of completely improbable coincidences. Let's remember that Russia is the biggest country in the world, yet people keep running into each other every other page as if they all lived in a small village. Even your average romance writer wouldn't probably try to pull it off thinking it is a bit too much. We have dealt with the storyline, now let's move on to the style. One thing, dialogue is definitely not Pasternak's forte. His characters don't talk, they orate. The author obviously had his own agenda there so the poor characters had to randomly break into two page long speeches to say what Pasternak wanted to tell us. Actually, I will let one of the characters speak for me now. At some point Lara said: „Instead of being natural and spontaneous as we had always been, we began to be idiotically pompous with each other. Something showy, artificial, forced, crept into our conversation - you felt you had to be clever in a certain way about certain world-important themes.” Touche, Lara, touche. Another interesting thing she said (actually this book would be so much better if it was called Larissa Fyodorovna instead of Doctor Zhivago) was her outlook on philosophy: "I am not fond of philosophical essays. I think a little philosophy should be added to life and art by way of spice, but to make it one's speciality seems to me as strange as feeding on nothing but pickles". And Pasternak definitely loves his pickles. Now that we've dealt with the bad and the ugly, let me tell what was good about this book. It has some of the most captivating descriptions I have come across in literature. This is where Pasternak's true genius comes to the light. I didn't know you can talk about snow in so many different beautiful ways and even though I know most of it was probably lost in translation what I've read was enough to pull this book out of the two-stardom. It maybe would've even pushed it into four-stardom if I had been in a better mood.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    The 1965 David Lean film with the same title is one of my all time favorite movies and so it was an inevitability that I would one day, finally, read Boris Pasternak’s novel masterpiece. Like James Dickey and Robert Penn Warren, this novel written by a poet leaves the reader with an idea of lyric quality. Nowhere is his identification as a poet more realized than at the end, as the books finishes with a section of poetry, though there are passages throughout the book that blend seamlessly into a The 1965 David Lean film with the same title is one of my all time favorite movies and so it was an inevitability that I would one day, finally, read Boris Pasternak’s novel masterpiece. Like James Dickey and Robert Penn Warren, this novel written by a poet leaves the reader with an idea of lyric quality. Nowhere is his identification as a poet more realized than at the end, as the books finishes with a section of poetry, though there are passages throughout the book that blend seamlessly into an introspective, mystical poetry and back again to the illustrative narrative. This style is a stark contrast to the realistic, journalistic prose of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood written just a few years later but across the pond. The frequent references to Russian mysticism and a longing for an older, idyllic time is reminiscent of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. “The air smells of pancakes and vodka.” This is expressionism feigning realism. The great art of Doctor Zhivago is the connection with the tragic time and place it documents, the Russian transformation into the Soviet Union. Yuri Andreyivich becomes a personification for the lost Russia, his mother’s funeral and his father’s suicide further metaphor for a lost innocence, a cutting off and separation from what was and an isolationist, orphaned stepping into the future. Zhivago’s journey along with his fellow Russians into Soviet communism and his evolving disillusionment is both an allegory of the torture of individuality and a prayer for the undying hope and poetry of human resiliency. Yet Pasternak, and by extension his creation Zhivago, makes allowances for the need for social reform in Russia, and so his later and eventual dissatisfaction with communism has greater weight and credibility. Besides Yuri Andreyivich, Pasternak describes a triumvirate of Russian characters: Pasha/Strelnikov, Kamerovski, and of course, Lara. Pasha, who transforms himself into the Red Army terrorist Strelnikov (who also resembles Conrad’s Kurtz) personifies the Russian idealist who is seduced and blinded by power, who begins with well-intentioned plans and dreams, and comes to murder, outrage and a death of moral courage. Kamerovski could be on a short list of greatest literary villains of the twentieth century. The shameless lawyer, who betrayed Yuri’s parents and ruined Lara, comes to symbolize the debauchery of Czarist Russian, the extravagance and immoral bankruptcy of the times. Lara is Mother Russia, raped by a gilded villain, obligatorily married to an ideal, and in love, hopelessly and tragically, to a poet philosopher with whom togetherness cannot be. I can understand how someone could call this their favorite work of all time, it was beautifully written and, like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, was iconoclastically both epic and intimately personal. I did very much enjoy reading it and Pasternak’s poetic prose gives a magnified appreciation to Lean’s work, which was a fine tribute to the Great Russian novel.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    It snowed, it snowed over all the world From end to end. A candle burned on the table, A candle burned. I have spent three hours just writing down my bookmarks in the text, and in the end I realised that all I needed was this little stanza from one of the Zhivago’s poems included at the end of the novel. We need art to illuminate a bleak existence, to comfort us in the cold, lonely hours when sleep refuses to come and the abyss is gazing back at us. Pasternak was such a bright candle in my life, a It snowed, it snowed over all the world From end to end. A candle burned on the table, A candle burned. I have spent three hours just writing down my bookmarks in the text, and in the end I realised that all I needed was this little stanza from one of the Zhivago’s poems included at the end of the novel. We need art to illuminate a bleak existence, to comfort us in the cold, lonely hours when sleep refuses to come and the abyss is gazing back at us. Pasternak was such a bright candle in my life, and I was not a little afraid to revisit the novel that so enchanted me in my mid-twenties with the older and more circumspect eyes of an over-fifty y.o. Since joining Goodreads, I have often felt like a little boy in a candy store: “I want that one! And that one over there! And the bright shiny red one there!”. So many new authors claimed my attention that I have virtually stopped re-reading these old friends. The push to remedy this situation, in particular regarding Boris Pasternak, came from three directions : Dostoevsky last year, Dickens and his French Revolution epic this year and, curiously, the poetry/prose of Tarjei Vesaas, also recently. It turns out all three are relevant, at least to me, in the interpretation of the work of Pasternak. Dickens is the easier, as both authors focus on the way revolutions might be explained at the level of a whole society and in a historical context, but they often are destructive on the personal level. The link to Dostoevsky was something that I missed in the early 90’s, but now I have found numerous references to Orthodox mystical revelations and the continuous relevance of the life of Christ. And from Vesaas I got tuned in advance to the deep link between the artist and the greater rhythms of nature. Here’s a short commentary from the translators: ‘the accursed questions’ : Dostoevsky coined this phrase (prokliatye voprosy) for the ultimate questions of human existence – the nature of man, the existence of God, the problem of evil, the meaning of life, the riddle of death – “the great Russian questions” as Nicola Chiaromonte called them, which Pasternak raises again in Doctor Zhivago, “when it seemed that history ... had suppressed them forever” So, if somebody were to ask me what is this book about, there is no easy answer: “Life, The Universe, and Everything”, to quote Douglas Adams, and to explain the ambitious scale of the story, the huge cast of characters and the intricacies of the plot. Iuri Antonovich Zhivago is a doctor and a poet, caught up in the Russian Revolution of 1918, and later in the Civil War that ensued. Throughout the novel, Zhivago is torn between the need for survival and his artistic integrity. His emotional landscape and his intellectual aspirations are concentrated into one word : Lara, I’m afraid to name you, so as not to breathe out my soul along with your name. . To understand the importance of Larissa Fyodorovna in the economy of the novel, I appealed to the early adherence of Pasternak to the Symbolist movement. She is Earth Mother, Goddess, Mother Russia, womanhood, peace in a world ravaged by class warfare. To love her is to love life in all its glory for Zhivago, his reason for being, his strength and inpiration. The two other men in Larissa’s life are equally symbolic: one, Khomarovsky, is an opportunistic libertine, an corrupt, egotistic rodent (in other words, he’s a lawyer) that dirties everything he touches, yet manages to gain profit in both pre-revolutionary and revolutionary societies. The other, Pasha Antipov, is the idealistic puritan that dreams of bringing a better world order by killing the old one, and so he becomes an instrument of terror. And for doing good, he, a man of principle, lacked the unprincipledness of the heart, which knows no general cases, but only particular ones, and which is great in doing small things. I don’t intend to belittle the anti-communist value of the novel, or to ignore the religious fervor that drives Iuri Zhivago, his reactionary stance towards the ‘socialist realism’ literary current of his contemporaries, but ever since I first saw the David Lean’s movie and later, when I read the novel for the first time, I was more interested not in what the artist condemns, but in what he believes in. This is one of the reasons the chapters on Lara are so significant to me, the other being that I really loved Julie Christie in the role, even if she is British, and not Russian. The rest of my review here is a sign of laziness, as I find the task of going into detail on the different themes and characters daunting. The novel deserves better than a long list of quotes taken out of context, but I go on holiday in a week and I’m still ten reviews behind ... Nikolai Nikolaevich (Uncle Kolya) is another alter-ego of the author, an intellectual of the old school, with an interest in religion and a pronounced elitist worldview: Every herd is a refuge for giftlessness, whether it’s a faith is Soloviev, or Kant, or Marx. Only the solitary seek the truth, and they break with all those who don’t love it sufficiently. Is there anything in the world that merits faithfulness? Such things are very few. I think we must be faithful to immortality, that other, slightly stronger name for life. We must keep faith in immortality, we must be faithful to Christ. Kolya again, on Christianity and symbolism as an artistic tool: I think that if the beast dormant in man could be stopped by the threat of, whatever, the lockup or requital beyond the grave, the highest emblem of mankind would be a lion tamer with his whip, and not the preacher who sacrifices himself. But the point is precisely this, that for centuries man has been raised above animals and borne aloft not by the rod, but by music: the irresistibility of the unarmed truth, the attraction of its example. It has been considered up to now that the most important thing in the Gospels is the moral pronouncements and rules, but for me the main thing is that Christ speaks in parables from daily life, clarifying the truth with the light of everyday things. At the basis of this lies the thought that communion among mortals is immortal and that life is symbolic because it is meaningful. Rinse and repeat: ... he developed his long-standing notion of history as a second universe, erected by mankind in response to the phenomena of time and memory. The soul of these books was a new understanding of Christianity, their direct consequence a new understanding of art. Zhivago as a young man, a romantic waiting for a means of expression: Everything in Yura’s soul was shifted and entangled, and everything was sharply original – views, habits, and predilections. He was exceedingly impressionable, the novelty of his perceptions not lending itself to descriptions. The doctor is caught up in the revolutionary spirit of the first months of the revolution, seeing it as a chance to experience life more truly and to the fullness of his abilities: Everything around fermented, grew, and rose on the magic yeast of being. The rapture of life, like a gentle wind, went in a broad wave, not noticing where, over the earth and the town, through walls and fences, through wood and flesh, seizing everything with trembling on its way. In a little village in Ukraine, tending to the wounded soldiers, Iuri has still to experience the disillusionment of the difference between the ideals of the brotherhood of man and the corrupted implementation of the new order: Suddenly everything has changed, the tone the air; you don’t know how to think or whom to listen to. As if you’ve been led all your life like a little child, and suddenly you’re let out – go, learn to walk by yourself. And there’s no one around, no family, no authority. Then you’d like to trust the main thing, the force of life, or beauty, or truth, so that it’s them and not the overturned human principles that guide you, fully and without regret, more fully than it used to be in that peaceful, habitual life that has gone down and been abolished. My favorite scene comes soon after this, as in Iuri’s mind the enthusiasm of the early days of revolution is translated into a declaration of love: In these days one longs so much to live honestly and productively! One wants so much to be part of the general inspiration! And then, amidst the joy that grips everyone, I meet your mysterioulsy mirthless gaze, wandering no one knows where, in some far-off kingdom, in some far-off land. What wouldn’t I give for it not to be there, for it to be written on your face that you are pleased with your fate and need nothing from anyone. So that somebody close to you, your friend or husband, would take me by the hand and ask me not to worry about your lot and not to burden you with my attention. Realism or symbolism? Does Zhivago talks about Larissa Fyodorovna or about Russia that is about to be awakened to civil war after a short honeymoon? There was a roll of thunder, like a plow drawing a furrow across the whole of the sky, and everything grew still. But then four resounding, belated booms rang out, like big potatoes dumped from a shovelful of loose soil in the autumn. The thunder cleared the space inside the dusty, smoke-filled room. Suddenly, like electrical elements, the component parts of existence became tangible – water and air, the desire for joy, earth, and sky. The times of trouble put petty concerns into perspective and bring forward the ‘accursed questions’ Dostoevsky was so fond of. In his time of exile in the Urals, Zhivago struggles to put his thoughts down in a journal: Art always serves beauty, and beauty is the happiness of having form, while form is the organic key to existence, for every living thing must have form in order to exist, and thus art, including tragic art, is an account of the happiness of existing. A happiness that for him has a name: Since childhood Yuri Andreevich had loved the evening forest shot through with the fire of sunset. In such moments it was as if he, too, let these shafts of light pass through him. As if the gift of the living spirit streamed into his breast, crossed through his whole being, and came out under his shoulder blades like a pair of wings. That youthful archetype, which is formed in every young man for the whole of life and serves him forever after and seems to him to be his inner face, his personality, awakened in him with its full primary force, and transformed nature, the forest, the evening glow, and all visible things into an equally primary and all-embracing likeness of a gril. “Lara!” – closing his eyes, he half whispered or mentally addressed his whole life, the whole of God’s earth, the whole sunlit expanse spread out before him. If the message was not clear enough already, Iuri has more: Oh, how sweet it is to exist! How sweet to live in the world and to love life! Oh, how one always longs to say thank you to life itself, to existence itself, to say it right in their faces! And that is what Lara is. It is impossible to talk to them, but she is their representative, their expression, the gift of hearing and speech, given to the voiceless principles of existence. Nature itself gains antropomorphic qualities when viewed through the eyes of the poet: The first heralds of spring, a thaw. The air smells of pancake and vodka, as during the week before Lent, when nature herself seems to rhyme with the calendar. Somnolent, the sun in the forest narrows its buttery eyes; somnolent, the forest squints through its needles like eyelashes; the puddles at noontime have a buttery gleam. Nature yawns, stretches herself, rolls over on the other side, and falls asleep again. You might ask, but is this woman mute, a mystery, a closed door ? Do we only know her through the eyes of Zhivago, or is she a real person, with a mind of her own? Lara walked beside the rails along a path beaten down by wanderers and pilgrims and turned off on a track that led across a meadow to the forest. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, breathed in the intricately fragrant air of the vast space around her. It was dearer to her than a father and mother, better than a lover, and wiser than a book. For an instant the meaning of existence was again revealed to Lara. She was here – so she conceived – in order to see into the mad enchantment of the earth, and to call everything by name, and if that was beyond her strength, then, out of love for life, to give birth to her successors, who would do it in her place. Her wisdom and her love is more instinctive than the intellectual flame of the poet, but that does not make them less true: I don’t like works devoted entirely to philosophy. I think philosophy should be used sparingly as a seasoning for art and life. To be occupied with it alone is the same as eating horseradish by itself. She responds to the love of this tormented man with unconditional warmth and devotion: I don’t think I’d love you so deeply if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I don’t like the righteous ones, who never fell, never stumbled. Their virtue is dead and of little value. The beauty of life has not been revealed to them. Yet, they are not destined to live happily ever after: You understand, we’re in different positions. Wings were given you so as to fly beyond the clouds, and to me, a woman, so as to press myself to the ground and shield my fledgling from danger. In the end, this is a sprawling epic that lets symbolism take precedence over plot coherence and character motivations. The condemnation of a corrupted system of values is more evident now than in my previous lectures (view spoiler)[ Zhivago dies of a broken heart, equating intellectual constraints with physical illness; Lara / Mother Russia disappears in the Gulag during Stalin’s pogroms, and their child grows up anonymous, a soldier of the new order, without history or higher ambitions (hide spoiler)] . But the poems of Pasternak endure, haunting me like the famous theme by Maurice Jarre, reminding us that there is beauty in the world, if we care enough to look for it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    You'd think, having Julie Christie as a mistress and Geraldine Chaplin as a wife, that you couldn't do much better than that in life. Alas, you can, because if it's that good and it's all taken away and your net time with each amounts to squatski (Russian for "squat"), in the scheme of your life, maybe life's a bitch after all. Dr. Zhivago brings us another Russian opus dealing with man as pawn against the great playing board of history. You can see why the Soviets banned the book, too, as its vi You'd think, having Julie Christie as a mistress and Geraldine Chaplin as a wife, that you couldn't do much better than that in life. Alas, you can, because if it's that good and it's all taken away and your net time with each amounts to squatski (Russian for "squat"), in the scheme of your life, maybe life's a bitch after all. Dr. Zhivago brings us another Russian opus dealing with man as pawn against the great playing board of history. You can see why the Soviets banned the book, too, as its view of the Bolsheviks becomes increasingly dim as the book plays out. I remember, in fact, talking the book (and movie) up when I was in the Soviet Union back in the 70s. My tour guide was much intrigued and furtively questioned me about both, but stopped suddenly, perhaps thinking for a panicked nanosecond that I was a plant (ficus, peace lily, whatever). Nyetski, comrade. Just an interested reader. I considered 4-stars because the book has stretches that could be excised without harming it in the least. And it commits the cardinal sin of including an epilogue after its two protagonists have exited the scene. (The sound you hear is pages flipping.) It ends with some 30 pages of Doc's poetry, few of which survive the turbulence of translation. But that's the point and the reason for the fifth star, actually. Poetry. Frequently, the narrative in this book slows down for some beautiful poetic writing, for some reason handled more deftly by Pevear & Volokhonsky in the prose than in the unforgiving confines of verse. Zhivago is a Renaissance man of Russia, interested in poetry, writing, philosophy, history, medicine, etc. He's a regular William Carlos Williams of the steppes, coming in from his doctor calls to write poetry like he does. Here's typical fare, as a for instance of the descriptive flare Pasternak has: "Meanwhile it was getting dark. The crimson-bronze patches of light the sunset scattered over the snow were swiftly fading, going out. The ashen softness of the expanses quickly sank into the lilac twilight, which was turning more and more purple. Their gray mist merged with the fine, lacy handwriting of the birches along the road, tenderly traced against the pale pink of the sky, suddenly grown shallow. "The grief in his soul sharpened Yuri Andreevich's perceptions. He grasped everything with tenfold distinctness. His surrounding acquired the features of a rare uniqueness, even the air itself. The winter evening breathed an unprecedented concern, like an all-sympathizing witness. It was as if there had never been such a nightfall until now, and evening came for the first time only today, to comfort the orphaned man plunged into solitude. It was as if the woods around stood on the hillocks, back to the horizon, not simply as a girdling panorama, but had just placed themselves there, having emerged from under the ground to show sympathy." Larissa Fyodorovna (Lara) is a character for the ages -- beautiful, intelligent, emotional, strong, maternal, romantic, and realistic all at once. Small wonder so many western girls were named after her once the book (and then the movie) was released. She links together disparate characters like Zhivago and his wife, Tonya; the repugnant Komarovsky; Pavel Antipov (Strelnikov). And she surely comes across as the wife everyman envisions but never gets (Zhivago included, though his vision at least took form for an ethereal second). Like War & Peace, the book goes back and forth between wartime scenes (a man's world) and domestic ones (man and woman) seamlessly. Pasternak is equally adept at both. The sharp contrasts, I think, are a great metaphor for Russia itself -- the sheer scope, size, and beauty of the landscape serving unwillingly as backdrop to the 20th century's tremendous shocks to her people. When all is said and done, you'll come away with certain scenes -- especially from Varykino -- permanently embedded in your longterm memory. How many books can lay that claim? Rhetorical question, of course. Haunting, poignant, memorable, all graciously written.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    ”The forest does not change its place, we cannot lie in wait for it and catch it in the act of change. Whenever we look at it, it seems to be motionless. And such also is the immobility to our eyes of the eternally growing, ceaselessly changing history, the life of society moving invisibly in its incessant transformations." Doctor Zhivago is about nothing, if not about change, transformation, upheaval and survival. Set against the background of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Doctor Zhi ”The forest does not change its place, we cannot lie in wait for it and catch it in the act of change. Whenever we look at it, it seems to be motionless. And such also is the immobility to our eyes of the eternally growing, ceaselessly changing history, the life of society moving invisibly in its incessant transformations." Doctor Zhivago is about nothing, if not about change, transformation, upheaval and survival. Set against the background of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Doctor Zhivago is a love story between a man and his wife, a man and his mistress and a man and his country. It catalogs the atrocities and the progressions of a political system that seeks to destroy the individual in the name of saving the masses. But, more importantly, it catalogs the attempt of one man to reconcile the ideals of his heart with the realities of a Marxist society. (view spoiler)[That he dies of a heart failure seems appropriate to me on so many levels. (hide spoiler)] The story encompasses, in the life of its title character, all the possibilities of love and suffering open to humankind. The desertion of Yuri Zhivago by his parents (one by leaving and one by death) starts Yuri on his fated journey into a world where partings become commonplace, but where heartache never ceases to accompany them. The love story between Zhivago and Lara is so deep and poignant that it takes your breath at moments. I was moved by the beauty of the writing, the stark imagery, and the character development that extends itself to even the least significant characters. Pasternak is a poet, and the entire book is a poem, as lyrical as the life’s blood he pumps into his protagonist’s veins. “They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the "blaze of passion" often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet.” He details the effects of the political changes around him and he seems to lament most of all the loss of personality, of independent thought, of individuality. The root of all the evil to come was the loss of confidence in the value of one's own opinion. People imagined that it was out of date to follow their own moral sense, that they must sing in chorus, and live by other people's notions, notions that were being crammed down everybody's throat. Too often when you have loved a book and then see the movie, or have loved a movie and then read the book, there is some disappointment you cannot help feeling toward one media or the other. David Lean did a remarkable job of bringing to life on screen a book that is truly epic in its scope and its meaning. I am pleased to find that this is one time when the movie and the book complement one another perfectly. I approved of the changes that the movie made to both the beginning and the ending of the story--it served to hold the story together in a very cohesive manner and lost nothing of the impact or importance. (view spoiler)[Eliminating the third “wife” from the tale seems to be an improvement to me. I found it hard to imagine Zhivago cohabitating with another woman and fathering children with her after having loved both Tonia and Lara. It somehow diminishes his love to have this third lover. (hide spoiler)] Minor objection when you consider the fine quality of the book at large. If you have never seen the movie, you should see it. If you have never read the book, you are missing something unique and remarkable.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A Russian song is like water in a mill pond. It seems stopped and unmoving. But in its depths it constantly flows...By all possible means, by repetitions, by parallelisms, it holds back the course of the graudally developing content...Restraining itself, mastering itself, an anguished force...it is a mad attempt to stop time with words. Here, Pasternak's character was describing a song, but I do believe Pasternak was defining his novel. Or maybe I just want to believe it, for this book is i A Russian song is like water in a mill pond. It seems stopped and unmoving. But in its depths it constantly flows...By all possible means, by repetitions, by parallelisms, it holds back the course of the graudally developing content...Restraining itself, mastering itself, an anguished force...it is a mad attempt to stop time with words. Here, Pasternak's character was describing a song, but I do believe Pasternak was defining his novel. Or maybe I just want to believe it, for this book is indeed a Russian song. Get into step with the beat and you get the novel. The prose is lyrical in some places, philosophically prophetic in others, but what this novel does well is personify anguish, nullify deliberations, form a debate around ideology, and discuss war from a situational, not a story context. I'm glad that I chose to read-along with the "Around The World" Good Reads book club this month. This is an unusual book. One of those books whose meandering complexities is agreeable, yet eluding. Like, One Hundred Years of Solitude, for instance. One of those books you read and will always remember you've read it. Though at first glance it is baffling once you realize that you have to chart your way through characters, having intermittent moments of murmuring aloud like a fool: Ok, remember, Dr. Zhivago is also called Yuri Andreevich, or Yura; Larissa Fyodorovna is also Antipova, or simply Lara; Strelnikov is also called Pashenka Antipov; Antonina Alexandrovna is also Tonya; Viktor Ippolitovich is not another character, he's Komarovsky. Phew. Get past the characters with quite a few names and you get to language: Language, the homeland and receptacle of beauty and meaning itself begins to think and speak for man and turns wholly into music, not in terms of external, audible sounds, but in terms of the swiftness and power of its inner flow. Get past language and you see professions of divinity: "Lord...How have You allowed me to approach You, how have You let me wander onto Your priceless earth, under Your stars, to the feet of this reckless, luckless, unmurmuring, beloved woman?" Get to fascinating character descriptions like this one: "...Ivan Ivanovich, a thin, towheaded, mercurial man, with a malicious little beard that made him look like an American of Lincoln's time (he kept gathering it in his hand and catching the tip of it in his lips)." Yet don't wait for an iteration of the bearded man with the weird habit because there is the issue of plot. "Critics found that there was no real plot to the novel," the editors said, "that its chronology was confused. These perplexities are understandable, but they come from a failure to pay attention to the specific composition of the novel..." While I don't agree that the duty is only on the readers to "pay attention"--seems a bit coarse, as the author really owes much more to the reader than vice versa--I do agree with the composition aspect. It is rare. The story is about Dr. Zhivago, an orphaned boy at the beginning of the novel, a doctor and very distraught man at the end. Nonetheless, Zhivago, or Yuri, appears as if performing in a stage play. It is character-driven and the composition and transitioning that you expect from most novels, seems to happen on its own term. Again I say, it is a song. Here, there is even poetry in the middle of prose because Zhivago was also a writer. There is love and marriage and romance. There is an affair that ends sadly. There is Lara, one of my favorite chaacters who reels you in towards the beginning because hers is a troubling story: Let's just say, think, Lolita. The novel is visceral and noxious and enlightening, influenced by its author's experience in the Bolshevik Revolution, and the years of communism, hunger, confusion, family separation, and more. An author who was also a poet. One who was silenced as a writer until after Stalin's death, who was not even allowed to accept the esteemed Nobel Prize in Literature that he had been honored with.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Tightly closing eyelids. Heights; and cloudy spheres. Rivers. Waters. Boulders. Centuries and years. [From "Fairy Tale" in Doctor Zhivago, poem quoted in full below] This sweeping romantic epic is set in Russia mostly during and after the 1917 (October) Revolution. The young physician/poet Yurii Zhivago works as an army doctor and is wounded during WWI. He meets Lara Antipova, who nurses him to health, and falls hopelessly in love. Lara will be his great love and mistress through the tumult and uphea Tightly closing eyelids. Heights; and cloudy spheres. Rivers. Waters. Boulders. Centuries and years. [From "Fairy Tale" in Doctor Zhivago, poem quoted in full below] This sweeping romantic epic is set in Russia mostly during and after the 1917 (October) Revolution. The young physician/poet Yurii Zhivago works as an army doctor and is wounded during WWI. He meets Lara Antipova, who nurses him to health, and falls hopelessly in love. Lara will be his great love and mistress through the tumult and upheaval of the Revolution and most of the ensuing civil war between Red and White partisans. Doctor Zhivago was first published in Italy in 1957. The following year, Boris Pasternak, an esteemed poet in Russia for years before writing this novel, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Soviet gov’t forced him to decline it by jailing his long-time companion Olga Ivinskaya. Pasternak died in 1960 at age 70. It was not until 1987 that the Soviet Union allowed the novel’s publication in the U.S.S.R. Ironically, Pasternak did not intend that the novel condemn revolution or make a statement on politics. Rather, he portrayed the brutality with which a revolution’s ideals may be pursued at the expense of preserving other ideals, spiritual or personal or artistic, in a time of such violent upheaval. Doctor Zhivago returns from WWI, after the October Revolution, and finds that disease and riots have ruined Moscow. He flees with wife Tonia and their child to the Urals. In the small village in which they settle, Zhivago again meets Lara and is again magnetized by her beauty and inflamed by his passions. The feelings are mutual. Lara is the wife of a revolutionary named Pasha who she has not seen in years. Zhivago is soon taken by a group of Red partisans and forced to serve as their doctor during guerrilla warfare in Siberia against White partisans. Upon return, he finds that his family has returned to Moscow. He lives with Lara, his soul mate, in an abandoned farmhouse for a period of brief bliss. That is, until all is upset by the tempestuous events surrounding the return of Lara's husband, now infamously known as Strelnikov (meaning "The Shooter"), a detested and dreaded commander for the Reds. The lovers must part. [any more would be a spoiler]. Twenty-five of Zhivago's poems make up the novel's final chapter. Pasternak meant the poetry to be an essential component since Zhivago sees his poems, not as a pastime or vocation, but as a vital part of his identity, supplying spirituality when none seemed possible in all the violent turmoil and restlessness of the years during and after the October Revolution. He wrote nearly all of these for Lara. My favorite is the heart-breaker below (yes, I'm a romantic). FAIRY-TALE* Once, in times forgotten, In a fairy place, Through the steppe, a rider Made his way apace. While he sped to battle, Nearing from the dim Distance, a dark forest Rose ahead of him. Something kept repeating, Seemed his heart to graze: Tighten up the saddle, Fear the watering-place! But he did not listen; Heeding but his will, At full speed he bounded Up the wooded hill; Rode into a valley, Turning from the mound, Galloped through a meadow, Skirted higher ground Reached a gloomy hollow, Found a trail to trace Down the woodland pathway To the watering-place. Deaf to voice of warning, And without remorse, Down the slope the rider Led his thirsty horse. * Where the stream grew shallow, Winding through the glen, Eerie flames lit up the Entrance to a den. Through thick clouds of crimson Smoke above the spring An uncanny calling Made the forest ring. And the rider started, And with peering eye Urged his horse in answer To the haunting cry. Then he saw the dragon, And he gripped his lance, And his horse stood breathless, Fearing to advance. Thrice around a maiden Was the serpent wound; Fire-breathing nostrils Cast a glare around. And the dragon's body Moved his scaly neck, At her shoulder snaking Whiplike forth and back. By that country's custom Was a captive fair To the forest monster Given once a year. Thus the neighbouring people From a peril grave Tried their own existence And their homes to save. Now the dragon hugged his Victim in alarm, And the coils grew tighter Round her throat and arm. Skyward looked the horseman With imploring glance, And for the impending Fight he couched his lance. * Tightly closing eyelids. Heights; and cloudy spheres. Rivers. Waters. Boulders. Centuries and years. Helmetless, the wounded Lies, his life at stake. With his hooves the charger Tramples down the snake. On the sand, together-- Dragon, steed, and lance; In a swoon the rider, Maiden--in a trance. Blue the sky; soft breezes Tender noon caress. Who is she? A lady? Peasant girl? Princess? Now in joyous wonder Cannot cease to weep; Now again abandoned To unending sleep. Now, his strength returning, Opens up his eyes; Now anew the wounded Limp and listless lies. But their hearts are beating. Waves surge up, die down; Carry them, and waken, And in slumber drown. Tightly closing eyelids. Heights; and cloudy spheres. Rivers. Waters. Boulders. Centuries and years. *Translation by Lydia Slater, conveying the metre of the original.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    Before finally reading this novel, I had watched the 1965 movie adaptation starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie many many times. By way of simple comparison, the movie captured very well the spontaneous passion of a brief love affair between physician/poet Yuri and his lover Lara, whereas the book dealt in much greater depth the tumultuous factional warfare incidents between the First Russian Revolution (1905) and the Russian Civil War (1917 – 1922), and their deleterious impact on everyday R Before finally reading this novel, I had watched the 1965 movie adaptation starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie many many times. By way of simple comparison, the movie captured very well the spontaneous passion of a brief love affair between physician/poet Yuri and his lover Lara, whereas the book dealt in much greater depth the tumultuous factional warfare incidents between the First Russian Revolution (1905) and the Russian Civil War (1917 – 1922), and their deleterious impact on everyday Russian life. As much as I loved the movie, I have to say that the novel was much more satisfying, if only for the stunning power of the written word. The novel is divided into two Parts. Part One primarily dwells on Yuri’s family life as a doctor in Moscow and the lives of those close to him, weaving them into the fabric of the violent ideological strife and abrupt social upheaval that were taking place in Russia. Highlights include schoolgirl Lara’s descent into debauchery under an immoral lawyer’s evil influence, the chance but indelible encounter between young Yuri and Lara, and Lara’s falling for a shy idealist, Pasha, whom she later marries. After a short reunion in the town of Meluzeyevo, Yuri and Lara come to know each other better but return home to their respective families. In the background loom the bloodshed resulting from the fall of the monarchy and the advent of the Civil War. Part Two zooms in on the spontaneous development of the love affair between Yuri and Lara in the Siberian towns of Varykino and Yuryatin, interrupted by Yuri’s being kidnapped by the Forest Brotherhood (a branch of the Red Faction) to serve as their camp doctor. In the background the Civil War is raging on. For fear of being arrested for being anti-revolutionary, the lovers decide to hide in a deserted house in Varykino. As much as they both struggle inwardly with their respective loyalties to family, they are able to savor the most magical and memorable moments in the week-and- a-half in that unforgiving icy wilderness. Then they are forced to accept the unscrupulous lawyer’s offer of a safe passage to Vladivostok, which means for them separation for life. Throughout the novel, the author makes it quite clear through Yuri’s viewpoint his own take on the falsehood and futility of slogan-driven abstract ideology as against living life with passion and purpose. Even in Yuri’s all-consuming sentimental love for Lara, he never loses sight of the wholesome beauty of being a part of the universe. This is the poetic essence of the novel. It was not out of necessity that they loved each other, ‘enslaved by passion’, as lovers are described. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the landscapes drawn up for them to see on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, were even more pleased with their love than they were themselves…. Never, never had they lost the sense of what is higher and most ravishing – joy in the whole universe, its form, its beauty, the feeling of their own belonging to it, being part of it. This compatibility of the whole was the breath of life to them. I’m giving the novel 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This is an extremely difficult book to review. It is unlike anything I have ever read. First, it was written in Russian, and, although the translation was fine, you can tell that often you are missing the full meaning. Second, did you know that the average person in Russia during the early to mid-1900s went by a minimum of five names? This creates MUCH confusion for the reader. And, even though this story revolves around the Russian Revolution, it does not explain the very complicated Revolution This is an extremely difficult book to review. It is unlike anything I have ever read. First, it was written in Russian, and, although the translation was fine, you can tell that often you are missing the full meaning. Second, did you know that the average person in Russia during the early to mid-1900s went by a minimum of five names? This creates MUCH confusion for the reader. And, even though this story revolves around the Russian Revolution, it does not explain the very complicated Revolution and/or the civil wars that resulted. The novel assumes you know all of this; it is written as though you were there. I can honestly say I know less about the Revolution now than I did before beginning this novel--it's THAT confusing. So, why have I given this novel five stars (especially when I almost NEVER give 5 stars)? This novel is the real deal. It is challenging to read, but it is the real deal. Pasternak was a poet and a philosopher. He lifts up the sheet to identify the body, he turns to address the elephant in the room. This man scoured his soul to write this novel. This was a true labor of love, a uniquely authentic examination of God, the meaning of our lives, and the roles we play in society, government, religion, marriage and more. I have dog-eared a minimum of 20 pages. I read and re-read a stunning passage describing Jesus Christ at least 7 times. I'm not sure I'll ever forget a conversation which takes place between a Christian man and a Jewish man (hiding his identity during the war). It is one of the most meaningful fictional exchanges I've ever had the pleasure to read. This was a huge novel in its time. The average person will never pick up this novel to read. Even fewer readers will see it through to the end. I can not say who could, should or would, but it is a powerful and possibly life-altering read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    I have researched Russian history, especially the Russian Revolution. Russia deserved a revolution. The serfs were mistreated slaves. I have read many biographies of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas and Alexandra. The Russian people had a love/hate relationship with the tzars. And yet they traded those oppressors for communist oppressors. Stalin was much worse than any Tzar. This story takes place during the revolution when everything was completely turned upside down. Yuri and L I have researched Russian history, especially the Russian Revolution. Russia deserved a revolution. The serfs were mistreated slaves. I have read many biographies of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas and Alexandra. The Russian people had a love/hate relationship with the tzars. And yet they traded those oppressors for communist oppressors. Stalin was much worse than any Tzar. This story takes place during the revolution when everything was completely turned upside down. Yuri and Lara's love affair was as chaotic as the world around them. Russian authors are a breed apart. They fight injustice and bare their souls with a love of Mother Russia. I loved this book as I loved books by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn,Bulgakov and many others.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I came to this book knowing the story a little bit: the 1965 movie adaptation is one of my mother’s favorite films, and I remember being fascinated by the image of Yuri and Lara taking shelter in Varykino, in the abandoned house filled with snow and icicles (I always thought this is what the apocalypse will look like in Canada). I also knew the novel would be much more intricate and tough to follow than the movie had been, with that pesky habit Russians have of using nicknames and patronymics. B I came to this book knowing the story a little bit: the 1965 movie adaptation is one of my mother’s favorite films, and I remember being fascinated by the image of Yuri and Lara taking shelter in Varykino, in the abandoned house filled with snow and icicles (I always thought this is what the apocalypse will look like in Canada). I also knew the novel would be much more intricate and tough to follow than the movie had been, with that pesky habit Russians have of using nicknames and patronymics. But I went ahead undeterred: in my experience, books that make you work for it often reward you in a way the breezy ones simply can’t. Also, is there a better time to read Russian literature than when it’s snowing and freezing outside? I think not. In some ways, it almost feels like a fairy tale: the numerous coincidences (such a big country yet these people keep bumping into each other all the time!), the heavy price paid for the characters’ survival and occasional happiness, the lyricism of the language (I read the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation and have no complaints), the snow-covered landscape… You know, a dark and brutal fairy tale set in the middle of a civil war*… The novel follows the story of Yuri Andreevich Zhivago, from his childhood until his death, and through his eyes, looks at the days leading to the October Revolution, the uprising itself as well as the following Civil War, and how the fabric of Russian culture and identity was forever altered by these events. Yuri experiences tragic loss and exile, betrayal and oppression – but holds on to the life-line of a luminous love affair through those brutal and tumultuous years. The bulk of the story revolves around Zhivago, who grows up to become a doctor and a poet, his wife Tonya, his mistress Lara, her husband Pasha Antipov (eventually known as Strelnikov), and her tormentor, the unscrupulous Kamerovski. The plot is quite convoluted, moving from Moscow to the Ural and back several times as characters separate, reunite and separate again, the runaway train of history and multiple wars sending them flying in unexpected directions. The writing is poetic and evocative; I am aware that there is no such thing as a perfect translation, but this version is apparently quite close to the rhythm Pasternak meant his words to have. I think that what truly matters is that it was written in such a way that I got lost in the images and in the atmosphere. While the romantic entanglement is crucial to the story, most of the narrative is much more about the experience of living in Revolutionary Russia: the starvation, diseases, displacements, separations, the once-great house divided into dilapidated tenements, the overcrowded military hospitals. Scenes that describe things like the dragoons attacking the peaceful march, or the villages burnt down by the Whites, are succinct yet chilling. A lot of time is spent in deep philosophical conversation that while not directly about politics, definitely serve as commentary of the Revolution and its consequences.Pasternak also uses Zhivago as his mouthpiece to express thoughts about the purpose of humanity, the nature of art, what other Russian writers had accomplished and why it mattered. The evocative diary passages about Yuri's conviction that one should strive to be a good person in a way that transcends politics is simply wonderful, brimming with passion and sadness. I need to share some thoughts about the symbolism in this book (boy, am I a sucker for well-executed symbolism!), because it made quite a strong impression on me, and I truly think it is key to seeing this work as a story of epic scope, yet incredible intimacy (in other words, the stuff true classics are made of). There might be spoilers in there. This novel is about a lot more than Yuri and Lara’s love story, even if most events end up orbiting around it. One of the themes I was especially struck by is the philosophical disillusionment with the Revolution and its ideologies. The exasperation with the blatant hypocrisies and blind acceptance of a conformist dogma that strips people of their identity expressed by Yuri echoes Pasternak’s own disappointment in the false promises made to the Russian people by the engineers of the October Revolution. I believe he was expressing a deep frustration with the fundamental impossibility of the making true art in a rigidly controlled society like the one he suddenly found himself in. Yuri’s resiliency is a symbol of Pastenak’s hope that the spirit of art and poetry can endure even the worse things humanity throws at it; and Pasha’s idealism, which is quickly corrupted into straight-up terrorism, is his fear that too much power can ruin even the best of intentions. When seen through a symbolic perspective, Lara, caught between those two men, and having been dishonored and injured shamelessly by Kamerovski, is how Pasternak saw Mother Russia: in love with its culture, art and intellectualism (and without which she is but a shadow of herself), but abused by those who hold a mercenary power, and subjugated by a twisted version of its deepest ideals. He clearly thought that the old system was tainted, unfair and abusive, but also couldn’t help but see the senselessness of the brutality brought on by the Revolution. With either Pasha or Kamerovski controlling her life, Lara suffers and her only reprieve is with Yuri. This makes the novel also about the yearning for freedom, specifically when it comes to Lara, who is in one way or another, always a prisoner or a puppet of the circumstances in which she finds herself, her stolen time with Yuri being the only true freedom she ever experiences, as the affair is a choice she makes unreservedly. I found myself wondering if the child she has by Yuri, and then loses in the Urals, isn’t a symbol for the book itself, which Pasternak wrote knowing it might never be published under his government. All that, of course, means that characters are not as developed as they could be, since they are not people so much as vehicles for Pasternak’s ideas. He gives them great speeches and strong feelings, but not enough dialogue to make them fully human – which is more an annoyance than a weakness of the book per se. The transformation of Pasha Antipov – from idealist student into vicious enforcer for the Reds - is an evolution that I thought about a lot. "Disappointment embittered him. The revolution armed him." To me, that’s the most heartbreaking character development I’ve encountered in a long time, as it shows that when taken to extremes, any ideology can become violent intolerance. Pasha wanted to create a world where men like Kamerovski could never hurt women like Lara again: the intention is noble, and born from love, but misguided and forgets that one simply can't make goodness mandatory. I am a very left-leaning person politically, but I often read or listen to the speech of my fellow leftists and can’t help noticing how, on occasion, their hardline approach and desire to silence those who don’t think like them often comes shockingly close to the tactics they accuse the right of using... I can’t find it in myself to excuse their distortion of truth and bullying simply because I share a lot of their values. Antipov/Strelnikov is what happens when good intentions go wrong, and he scares me almost as much as Kamerovski, albeit for completely different reasons. I have to say that I am not a fan of adultery in novels: it often feels like a contrived set-up, and I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure Pasternak understood much about women. Of course, Yuri and Tonya’s marriage is based in friendship and they are a suitably matched couple on paper, as they are from similar backgrounds and have known each other most of their lives; which is in stark contrast with his love for Lara, which is irrational, visceral and passionate. He could never have married her under the old regime, but the circumstances of the new one don’t give them any options of legitimacy either. So I fully understand why their relationship is illicit: in the circumstances, it could never have been otherwise. But given the way she reacts to her husband’s affair, Tonya is either a very unrealistic wife, a saint, or she’s figured that with a civil war and famine going on, she has bigger problems to worry about. Either way, this part of the story made me squint at the book skeptically for a few minutes, but that’s a minor complaint. I’ve been told that the context in which this book was written and published is important to get a true appreciation of the work, but mostly I just found it fascinating and heartbreaking (I will be reading “The Zhivago Affair: the Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book” soon). Pasternak wrote “Doctor Zhivago” on paper given to him by another poet’s widow, and he was painfully aware of how many of his fellow writers and been jailed or killed during the Great Purge (Stalin had apparently crossed his name off one of the execution lists, so he was relatively safe – or at least as safe as anyone can be given the circumstances). The novel was originally rejected for publication in Russia because it was seen as anti-Soviet and critical of communism (which, you know, it sort of is), so the manuscript was smuggled out of the USSR by an Italian publisher and published in the West – where, I suppose predictably, it was seen as a great piece of anti-Russian propaganda, especially by the CIA. Also predictably, this got Pasternak into a nasty spot of trouble with the KGB when he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature (he declined the medal under threat from the authorities). It wasn’t until the 80s, more than twenty years after Pasternak’s death, that the novel was published in his home country. It’s now part of Russian academic curriculum, so I guess his belief in the resilience of art has finally been vindicated. This book is a truly remarkable work of art; it might be a little messy but it should definitely read by everyone, for it's amazing story, gorgeous language and important subtext. As far as adaptations go, the classic version with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie is great, but I also enjoyed the 2002 series (which is perhaps a bit more faithful to the novel), despite Keira Knightley’s presence. Hans Matheson is an excellent Yuri, and Kris Marshall’s Pasha broke my heart. *As I read “Doctor Zhivago”, I kept thinking of Catherynne Valente’s beautiful and disturbing novel “Deathless” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), which is set in Russia around the same time as “Doctor Zhivago”. Obviously, it is totally different, but there is a similarity in spirit: the poetry, the cruelty, the love that’s more like a sickness than like anything else. I’m now pretty sure Valente is a huge Pasternak fan.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dusty

    As far as I know, Doctor Zhivago appeals for three reasons. First, it is an epic by and about a man caught in the thick of the tumultuous period of Russian enlightenment and revolution. Second, like many epics, it follows the romance between a man and a woman (or in this book´s case, three women) whose love is made impossible by the political circumstances in which they live. Third, and lastly, it was bravely published in the 1950s, censored immediately by the Soviets but heralded by non-Red lit As far as I know, Doctor Zhivago appeals for three reasons. First, it is an epic by and about a man caught in the thick of the tumultuous period of Russian enlightenment and revolution. Second, like many epics, it follows the romance between a man and a woman (or in this book´s case, three women) whose love is made impossible by the political circumstances in which they live. Third, and lastly, it was bravely published in the 1950s, censored immediately by the Soviets but heralded by non-Red literary circles worldwide. About this third point, I cannot debate. Pasternak is a courageous writer, his Zhivago a courageous novel. However, as an epic and romance, the book does not deliver. The historical events are loosely referenced, meaning only someone who has seriously studied Russian history could follow them. Much of the time, I, like the characters, was lost in the speedy transitions between governments and enforced political philosophies. And the romance? Zhivago declares his love for his women, yet he continually leaves one for the other, and Pasternak tells us the love between Zhivago and Lara is strong, but I believe that only because Pasternak says so, not because I feel it in the characters´ dialogue or actions. I suppose that Zhivago´s movement between women is supposed to reflect Russia´s movement between regimes, but even about that I am unclear. Anyway. Read the book because it´s important, but don´t expect to love it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark André

    An entertaining pager turner. Good melodrama. Good dialogue: especial between Yurii and Lara. Way too many similes. The Conclusion and Epilogue drag and seem at bit superfluous. Three and half stars. Would like to see the movie.

  21. 4 out of 5

    El

    As I've already stated, this book has been on my bookshelf since I was about thirteen when my mother gave me a copy for Christmas one year. She talked to me about the story, about the movie and her adoration of Omar Sharif because of said movie. And because I was a punk kid I never sat down to read it. (Correction: I sat down a couple times to read it over the years but never managed to make it past a page or two because I evidently had more important things going on in my life.) So now, at thirt As I've already stated, this book has been on my bookshelf since I was about thirteen when my mother gave me a copy for Christmas one year. She talked to me about the story, about the movie and her adoration of Omar Sharif because of said movie. And because I was a punk kid I never sat down to read it. (Correction: I sat down a couple times to read it over the years but never managed to make it past a page or two because I evidently had more important things going on in my life.) So now, at thirty-two, it finally seemed time. And this time I not only made it through the first couple pages - I didn't want to put it down at all. Part of my problem may have been people referring to this as "the greatest love story of all time", and back as a punk kid, who needed that? My mom may have talked to me about the other stuff in this book, like that it covers the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War that started a year later, but if she did I have no recollection of it. It didn't land on my radar. Even as an adult when I started obsessing over reading Russian literature this was always the one book that stared at me, as if Pasternak were saying, "Yo, whatever, we're all chill here. I'll always be around, you just let me know when you're ready." (Pasternak is much nicer to me in my imagination than is Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn who has bitter, bitter eyes. Yeah, I'm looking at you now, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956.) I've probably written down more passages into my journal from Doctor Zhivago than any other book I've read in recent history, just because they were either written so elegantly or they struck such a chord somewhere deep inside my crusted up little heart. I don't even particularly condone illicit literary love affairs - I feel someone is always going to get hurt so when I have to read a book along those lines it makes me sad for the guy/girl who gets pushed to the side. Someone needs to write a book of all those characters who got the short end of the stick. Maybe they could get some literary happiness someday. Hell, maybe I should write that book. Now I can finally watch the movie and see if I also have a boner for Omar Sharif, or if my love of the story was the only thing my mom passed on to me. Reading Doctor Zhivago refreshed in my memory all the reasons I love literature and books, and why I probably will never manage to have an e-reader. Part of my love for this book comes with the fact that it was a gift from my mom, even if I didn't fully appreciate it at the time. Sure, it's a mass market paperback, nothing to write home about really, except that it was a gift. It's a story she read probably at that same age and it took her away and made her love life and literature. She may not have intended for me to have that same experience so late in my life, but it's the thought that counts. And somehow I don't think that her forwarding me an e-reader copy of this book at the same age would have made such an impression on me, and I may never have read it to begin with. Books are gifts, not up/downloads.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Richards

    I watched the film years ago and loved it; the book is just as good.

  23. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    AUGUST 2 REVIEW: After finishing the book last night, I immediately wrote my review. I always do that because I right away start reading the next book. Also, writing what I learned from the book and what I felt while reading it are easier if the story is still fresh in my mind. However, for almost the whole day, I thought that I missed the whole point of the story. My August 1 Review below definitely was too weak for a beautifully told forbidden love story of Yuri and Lara. While driving from t AUGUST 2 REVIEW: After finishing the book last night, I immediately wrote my review. I always do that because I right away start reading the next book. Also, writing what I learned from the book and what I felt while reading it are easier if the story is still fresh in my mind. However, for almost the whole day, I thought that I missed the whole point of the story. My August 1 Review below definitely was too weak for a beautifully told forbidden love story of Yuri and Lara. While driving from the office, I asked the usual questions that I ask myself after reading a book: Did I learn something from it? from its characters? from the events? Is there something in the story that can make me a better person? Is there some lesson in it that I can learn from? Is there something that the book wants to tell me? I always believe that a book, just like a person, crosses one's path for a reason. There is no chance encounter. From the many, many books that we see when we walk into a bookstore or a library, we pick up the ones that we think we like. We browse, we read blurbs, we ask around, we select. From the many, many people we encounter in our life's journey, there are those people who we smile at and say our first hello hoping to win them over and have them as friends. Doctor Zhivago is one of those books that I chose to read from the 400+ books that are in my to-read pile. Yes, it is the suggested book for August 2010 in our 1001 Group. Yes, it is part of my quest of finishing all the 1001 books before I die. But, I have the choice not to read it. But I chose to start it early last week, read through the whole week and chose to finish it last night. Had I read this book when I was still single, i.e., before I turned 29 years old, it would have been just another illicit love affair. Illicit because Yuri and Lara are both married. Yuri has Tonya and they are living happily. Lara is separated from his husband who is a soldier. One day, Yuri sees (again) Lara and he decides to spend a night in Lara's place. He tells his wife, Tonya an alibi for not going home that night. And so, that's the Day 1 of their forbidden love affair. If I were single, I would just brush it off as just another story and there is no lesson whatsoever because I was single and still in the lookout for the right person to spend the rest of my life with. However, now that I am married and happily at that, the story has a different meaning. The way Pasternak described it is that the love between Yuri and Lara is one true beautiful love. Is it possible that a married man might still encounter his one true love, his real soulmate, when he is already married? Is it possible that a married man only committed a mistake of marrying his wife who is not really the person for him? Those are the questions that this book brought into my mind while driving home tonight. You must have heard the beautiful song "Lara's Theme" that exactly captures this same sentiment. The dream of fulfilling the right love that came at the wrong time (when a person is or both persons are already married): Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing Although the snow covers the hopes of Spring Somewhere a hill blossoms in green and gold And there are dreams, all that your heart can hold Someday we'll meet again, my love Someday whenever the Spring breaks through You'll come to me out of the long-ago Warm as the wind, soft as the kiss of snow Till then, my sweet, think of me now and then Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again Someday we'll meet again, my love I said "someday whenever that Spring breaks through" You'll come to me out of the long-ago Warm as the wind, and as soft as the kiss of snow Till then, my sweet, think of me now and then Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again! I am not sure of the answer. Really. I am hoping that Yuri's dilemma will not happen to me. I will not search for it. I will not make myself available for it. But if and when it still comes to me, I will probably do what Yuri did. That's why I rated this with a five-star. This book poses a disturbing (for a married man) question. And luckily also offers an answer. Or an option: what Yuri did. Clever. One hell of a story. AUGUST 1 REVIEW: Doctor Zhivago first submitted for publication in 1956 was rejected for its "libelous" depiction of the Russian Civil War (1917-1921). When it was published finally in English in 1958, it had already been translated to 18 other languages. Its author, Russian poet Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the same year this novel was published in English: 1958. When he learned the good news, he sent back a telegram saying he is "Immensely thankful, touched, proud, astonished, abashed" but after four days, he sent another telegram refusing to accept the award. The Soviet Communist Party said to have pressured him to refuse the award. This novel is about: Love or to be exact, two love triangles. The first triangle is that of Yuri torn between his wife Tonya and his mistress, Lara. The second triangle is about Lara torn between Yuri and her husband Pasha/Sterlnikov. Among the two love triangles, Pasternak focused more on the latter. The most beautiful quote describing the love between Yuri and Lara can be found on page 501: "Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people's songs. They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the "blaze of passion" often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did." Moscow during the two wars: Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Russian Civil War of 1918–1921. In the book's epilogue, there is this evening scene where the two surviving sons of Yuri are looking through the book their father wrote. Pasternak aptly says: "And Moscow, right below them and stretching into the distance, the author's native city, in which he had spent half his life - Moscow now struck them not as the stage of the events connected with him but as the main protagonist of a long story, the end of which they had reach that evening, book in hand." Life during war is, above all, what this novel is all about. However, unlike other war novels, there are no battlefront scenes with soldiers dying in trenches or forests. However, the impact of those wars can be seen on the changes they bring to the characters' lives. So as not to offend the Russian communist, Yuri did not have the usual church burial ceremony. However, there are flowers by the casket that seem to "compensate for the absence of the ritual and the chant (p. 493)." Pasternak continues: "They did more than blossom and smell sweet. Perhaps hastening the return to dust, they poured forth their scent as in the choir and, steeping everything in their exhalation, seemed to take over the function of the Office of the Dead. The vegetable kingdom can easily be thought of as the nearest neighbor of the kingdom of death. Perhaps the mysteries of evolution and the riddles of life that so puzzle us are contained in the green of the earth, among the trees and the flowers of graveyards. Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus risen from the grave. "supposing Him to be the gardener...." Another beautiful quote tells us the Pasternak's view on life: "Man is born to live, not to prepare for life" Thank God by giving us to read beautiful novels like Doctor Zhivago that make this life's journey more bearable if not more meaningful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    "No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history's organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshipped for d "No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history's organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshipped for decades thereafter, for centuries." (454) "None of this can mean anything to you. You couldn't understand it. You grew up quite differently. There was the world of the suburbs, of the railways, of the slums and tenements. Dirt, hunger, overcrowding, the degradation of the worker as a human being, the degradation of women. And there was the world of the mother's darlings, of smart students and rich merchants sons, the world of impunity, of brazen insolent vice; of rich men laughing or shrugging off the tears of the poor, the robbed, the insulted, the seduced; the reign of parasites, whose only distinction was that they never troubled themselves about anything, never gave anything to the world, and left nothing behind them. But for us life was a campaign. We moved mountains for those we loved, and if we brought them nothing but sorrow, they did not hold it against us because in the end we suffered more than they did." (459-460) During this reading I had the high honour of it being my first ever buddy read with my friend Celise. Below is a link to her goodreads page. my link text Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak is one of those lumbering classical novels with an unforgiven complexity in narrative and a trite use of formulas that easily can frustrate the most seasoned of readers. However, buried underneath the flaws it exhibits, are examples that validate its existence among major pieces of Russian literature. Lets being with the flaws of the book. Having an uneven depth and a wide variety of characters are nothing new to previous Russian classics. However, Pasternak, in what can politely be deemed as an eccentricity, can refer to one character by several different names belonging to them, alongside a possible nickname without any indication that he is talking about the same character. In a wide cast of characters this can become quite irksome to follow the plot with, which at times is uneven and suffers from stagnation. If readers are willing to forgive these points and look further into the philosophy and story Doctor Zhivago is telling, it can be well worth the read. Doctor Zhivago takes place between the early 1900's and World War II, a rather tumultuous time in the life of Russia, having transformed from the land of Tsarist rule to communist upheaval. The plot follows of the life of Yuri Zhivago more or less, as he witnesses historical events around him questioning the real purpose behind each political action taken. Zhivago, among other characters, begins the novel on rather unsteady ground, and throughout the years we see him try to regain that stability he so desires. Being from a wealthy family, Yuri is very much comfortable with the status-quo Tsarist Russia followed, and consistently questions what revolutionary idealism really can bring to those blinded by the need for change that are willing to sacrifice their own individualities for a so called "greater good" under an increasingly totalitarian state. His status as a doctor (considered a higher class where a classless system was being implemented) and member of the intelligentsia group of philosophers constantly put him at odds with the growing power of the Communist political party. Behind the political backdrop, the story also develops around Yuri's love life, or the tragedy of it, as he involves himself with at least three different female characters throughout the course of the book. Among them, a character named Lara, is perhaps the one he grows to love the most, having chance encounters with her in different settings, but Yuri's constant need for female attention and validation invoke a sort of "tragic hero" persona for him. Sigmund Freud referred to this as the maternal object, as when the book opens with Yuri as a young boy, his mother has passed away and they are attending her funeral. Yuri always seems to be looking to reclaim what was lost to him, either through women or political opinion, leading to his many downfalls. There is much else to unpack here, with the dozens of characters and historical events covered in this book. Some may find it difficult to follow without knowledge of late 1800-early 1900 Russian history and all that encompassed those times, but for certain readers, this book is really satisfying once the final page has been turned and the meaning behind it presents itself to the reader. Rating: 3.5/5

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    What this book seems to lack is a good editor. Given the circumstances in which it was published, that is not surprising. It was published in translation rather than Russian language and the author was not available to discuss any edits/changes with. Not that it is a bad book at all. Writing is awesome frequently (though not frequently enough) especially the poems in the end but it has a bunch of issues - some boring parts, repetitiveness, annoyingly large number of coincidences (like in Dickens What this book seems to lack is a good editor. Given the circumstances in which it was published, that is not surprising. It was published in translation rather than Russian language and the author was not available to discuss any edits/changes with. Not that it is a bad book at all. Writing is awesome frequently (though not frequently enough) especially the poems in the end but it has a bunch of issues - some boring parts, repetitiveness, annoyingly large number of coincidences (like in Dickens), confusion about names - not only because of Russian three name system but also because writer doesn't make any effort at clarification. Often Russian writers stick to one name for their characters even if the characters may use other names for each other. Pasternak does no such thing. This will probably confuse a Russian reader too. Soviet government was an idiot to create so much noise about the book. If it wasn't for them, it probably would never have got popularity. If Zhivago was a real-life person he would never have set outside his place - something keeps happening to disturb his journey (his vehicle goes the wrong way, his train has to stop midway for days, his vehicle malfunctions and has to be repaired frequently, he gets kidnapped etc). That, annoying as it was for me (and probably for Zhivago too) seems to be intentional on part of the author - a motif to represent disturbance that had become a part of life in Russia. This must be especially annoying for intellectuals and Zhivago was one - a writer. Often we find him having a sort of spiritual or mystic or some other that sort of experience and it would made me believe that he is going to have an epiphany of some sort. But the epiphany never comes because he is disturbed by one thing or other. Similarly, he is repeatedly forced to abandon his writings due to one misfortune or other and when he returns to them he discovers that he is not able to resume them. Some of the best of the writings are written in a particularly excited state of mind (what Ishiguru calls crash) when the writer only wants to write and do nothing else as, once the excited state is gone, we find we are no longer the same person. There is quite a bit of philosophy too. Zhivago's philosophy changes over time and it losses its robust revolutionary spirit to take a fatalistic turn over years. And of course Moscow. Towards the end, the city is compared to the heroine of a tragic novel who has suffered a lot and that is exactly the case - throughout the novel, we see it being ruined revolution by revolution.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This book sapped all my energy, it was deathly dull. I thought about writing a review, but have already wasted far too long on the mind-numbing Yuri. Awful, just awful. Buddy-slog with Jemidar; couldn't have done it without you!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    At the time of writing Pasternak was living in the artists and writers colony just outside Moscow with his wife. He'd visit his mistress from time to time. She had been installed a short distance away on the far side of a small bridge over a stream. The experience of walking down to spend time with her and then back to his wife was reimagined in to Zhivago travelling between his wife and Lara when they are all in Varykino. If you come to the book from the film - shot slightly bizarrely in Spain w At the time of writing Pasternak was living in the artists and writers colony just outside Moscow with his wife. He'd visit his mistress from time to time. She had been installed a short distance away on the far side of a small bridge over a stream. The experience of walking down to spend time with her and then back to his wife was reimagined in to Zhivago travelling between his wife and Lara when they are all in Varykino. If you come to the book from the film - shot slightly bizarrely in Spain with wax standing in for snow - the substantial and really obvious difference is that the story is told largely from Zhivago's point of view. The novel is that story of a man who loves two women. Tsarist and revolutionary Russia provide a convenient backdrop and a framework to provide a more or less believable explanation for the movements, separations and meetings of the main characters. The extent that Zhivago actually has to address the reality of loving two women is conveniently limited by being swept away to war, escaping to Siberia or by being inconveniently commandeered by partisans (the most memorable section of the book for me). This is not The Idiot. The consequences of his love don't reach an inevitable conclusion. One of the more curious reasons to respect Pasternak's literary achievement is to compare him with say Solzhenitsyn or Grossman even Sholokhov there the influence of Dostoevsky and particularly Tolstoy as the exemplar of Russian epic novel writing is present and sometimes especially with Solzhenitsyn enthusiastically embraced. Pasternak's Zhivago is not rooted in an authorial vision of 'Russianness'. If Siberia offers a hope of renewal it is only because the characters believe it is so remote that they can there escape the civil war - but oh how innocent and naive of them. Nor is this a Political novel, pre-revolutionary Russia is no ideal, but post-revolutionary Russia does not seem to hold out any grand hope of a better future for the Doctor's divided affections either. It is a book that seems to be turning inwards away from either the epic canvas or epic concerns - human happiness it repeatedly demonstrates is near impossible to achieve and if we can't get that right what chance have we with the big abstract stuff like justice or nation is the implicit argument of the novel. Governments come and go. Life goes on, but unhappily. Perhaps the children will get things right.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    I definitely went into this book with all the wrong expectations. I haven't seen the film, but what I've heard made me believe I'll be diving into a timeless romance with a whole lot of Russian history in the background. Yuri and Lara's story, however, is 25% of the book at most, and in fact Pasternak uses this novel to ponder history, communism, philosophy and to offer his views and opinions, and a healthy dose of social commentary. I will definitely re-read this book at some point with the righ I definitely went into this book with all the wrong expectations. I haven't seen the film, but what I've heard made me believe I'll be diving into a timeless romance with a whole lot of Russian history in the background. Yuri and Lara's story, however, is 25% of the book at most, and in fact Pasternak uses this novel to ponder history, communism, philosophy and to offer his views and opinions, and a healthy dose of social commentary. I will definitely re-read this book at some point with the right mindset. Basically, I'm pretty certain it wasn't the book's fault that I was underwhelmed. The prose didn't blow me away either, but I'm not sure my translation is a good one. I've read and loved several books written by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and I thought I would end up loving this one as well. About halfway through I realised, I just wanted to get it done and over with. I couldn't connect with the characters and felt like they weren't developed enough. Essentially, the reader is being fast forwarded through Yuri's life, never staying in any place for longer than necessary. I recommend Doctor Zhivago to anyone interested in Russia and who doesn't mind that both characters and plot come secondary.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Antigone

    Pasternak's novel resembles nothing so much as a piece of antique cut crystal. Drawn from its tattered felt sleeve and polished with a soft chamois cloth, this heavy treasure has been set ever-so-gingerly on a table in wait for the curiosity of the sun. When that indolent light falls, as it must, at just the right, unerring angle, this liquid twist of sculpted glass explodes in a riot of fragmented color. Here is pure perceptive chaos - brilliant, bold, sharp, insanely vibrant; nearly too much f Pasternak's novel resembles nothing so much as a piece of antique cut crystal. Drawn from its tattered felt sleeve and polished with a soft chamois cloth, this heavy treasure has been set ever-so-gingerly on a table in wait for the curiosity of the sun. When that indolent light falls, as it must, at just the right, unerring angle, this liquid twist of sculpted glass explodes in a riot of fragmented color. Here is pure perceptive chaos - brilliant, bold, sharp, insanely vibrant; nearly too much for the eye to hold. It is impossible to keep track of all the elements in this story. Pasternak's poetic mind barely bothers with narrative. He's not telling, or even showing, the fury of the Russian Revolution. He's injecting the experience into your awareness. Character is his syringe, and Nature, and God, and Movement, and Ideas that possibly should have remained Ideas bereft of the power to transform into Policy. Zhivago, on the surface a physician and a poet, a husband and a father, is in truth a will o'the wisp within his nation's upheaval, drifting from person to person, location to location, event to event. Lara, the love of his heart, is met and lost several times over as Russia spasms violently; expanding and contracting through the merciless abrasion of its cultural tectonic plates. Misery is here, and atrocity, and stupidity, but also great beauty and the meaningful living of life. This is a very particular sort of literary encounter. Just as there are those who won't think much of what the sun ignites through the prism of a piece of Baccarat or Lalique or Steuben glass, so are there those who will dismiss what Pasternak has managed to tender with regard to his revolution. Regardless, and by anyone's standard, Doctor Zhivago stands as a bright and blazing work of art.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    This is a reread for me. Will I still think it worth five stars? ********************************** On completion after the second reading: I ended up really liking some aspects of the book, but not all. This book makes you feel history and what it is to be human. It isn't so much a history book as a way of living through / experiencing life in Russia in the first half of the 20th Century in Moscow and in the Urals. What it was like to live through the Revolution and the subsequent civil war are no This is a reread for me. Will I still think it worth five stars? ********************************** On completion after the second reading: I ended up really liking some aspects of the book, but not all. This book makes you feel history and what it is to be human. It isn't so much a history book as a way of living through / experiencing life in Russia in the first half of the 20th Century in Moscow and in the Urals. What it was like to live through the Revolution and the subsequent civil war are not depicted with historical events, but rather depicted through starvation, cold, illness and disillusionment. All is movingly told. Places and landscape are exceptionally well drawn. Sounds great! Right? Except that there are problems. The story builds very slowly and it is hard to follow. There are many characters and Pasternak within one paragraph can refer to the same person with a different name - in one line choosing the patronymic, in the next the surname and then he switches for no reason to a nickname. I don’t usually have trouble with Russian names, but I certainly did here, for the entire first third of the novel. In the first third dialog is practically non-existent. This too makes it difficult to establish a close rapport with any of the characters. They do not mean anything to you; you do not feel empathy for them. (I explain below how I solved this problem.) By the book’s end you certainly do know the characters, but even here I have a bit of a complaint. I don’t understand some the characters’ choices. This has to mean that I lack a complete understanding of their personality and how they think. I believe I understand why Yuri felt he could not follow Lara to Vladivostok; (view spoiler)[he felt a loyal duty to do the correct thing in regards to his wife and child, even if his love for his wife was never passionate (hide spoiler)] , but I am not sure. What the book does tremendously well is let the reader feel empathy for the suffering of the characters and the people of Russia. Why is the book written? What did Pasternak want to achieve? It is not a book to teach you history through fictional characters. As started, historical details are sparse. Supposedly, neither was it meant as a love story, which is what many appreciate it for. (I enjoyed the love story very much, even on my second reading.) What then? I believe Pasternak wanted his readers to palpably and with all of their emotions experience a time and place, what he himself had seen and experienced. Anyhow, there is an Afterword that discusses this question and gives a brief outline of the Pasternak’s life. Yuri, the main character, is Pasternak’s alter-ego. That is clear. I feel that Pasternak was making a political statement against Bolshevism, speaking of the importance of art and literature and finally quite simply showing us how difficult life is. There is no rhyme or reason for what life throws at you. Most importantly he wants the reader to feel life. He does achieve this marvelously in some sections. Doctor Zhivago has a great line where he says that you should not lay out philosophizing too thick, but spread it out sparingly; otherwise it is like taking a huge bite of horseradish. Here we see that alter-ego quality. Yet, there are sections that do just that; the philosophical reasoning is at times excessive and other times unclear. Neither do I understand Pasternak’s / Doctor Zhivago’s religious beliefs, although it is clear he opposed anti-Semitism. Some events are VERY coincidental. Maybe…. real life can be stranger than fiction! The story ends with poems. They did not speak to me. Occasionally you recognized how they expressed the events of the story. Other poems were completely unrelated to the story. Several have a religious theme and I did not know what was being implied. John Lee narrates the audiobook. I used to think he was a great narrator. My tastes have changed. I don’t like the sing-song lilt of his voice. He reads clearly and at a good tempo, so the narration is not really a problem, even if I didn’t enjoy it. So even if I loved enveloping myself in another time and place, and loving another with all my heart, experiencing a starry night with wolves howling, or a blizzard, other aspects of the book left me confused and unconvinced of what Pasternak was saying. I definitely enjoyed reading this – after I had gotten through the first half. There is writing that occasionally just knocks you off your feet. This is a book to experience, but it takes hard work to be able to get to that point. My next two books will be, as planned, first The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book and then The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants. Had I not enjoyed this book it would have been hard to continue. *********************************** In part 14: Oh my, it IS a wonderful love story, just as I remembered. Still reading. *********************************** Part six completed, part 7 begun, about 1/3 of the book read: Originally I read the book after having just seen the movie, which I adored. Omar Shariff's eyes.... I was a teenager and my imagination took flight. I simply loved it. I think it helped me to see the movie before reading the book. Now the second time around, the beginning was very difficult for me. This book has a long, slow start. I had immense trouble with the names. When you see a movie you see the characters and glimpse their personality too, by the actors' movements, their clothing and what they say. Pasternak doesn't make it easy to keep characters straight. Every character has at least four names - several nicknames, the given name, the patronymic and the surname. Furthermore the book lacks dialog throughout the first three parts. Dialog slowly creeps in from the fourth part. Dialog helps you understand the personality of the characters. I don't want to be told, but rather shown. Dialog achieves this. The beginning read simply as he did this and she did that. Dry statements relating what occurs. If you are a person like me who wants to know the people, the beginning was tremendously unsatisfying and confusing. The first three parts were a struggle. I was about to give up, but decided I would see if there was a character list on Wiki. There wasn't, but right smack in the beginning it explains how difficult it is to follow this book because of how Pasternak uses the names, confusing who is who. What Wiki has is an article that summarizes the novel's separate parts. As each new character is introduced the complete name is given. I decided to read the summary of after completion of each part. I managed through the first parts which are definitely the hardest, hardest because these characters mean nothing to you. The tone and writing style changes after part three. Now, by part seven, it reads as a story should. I am beginning to differentiate the characters; I feel I know who they are. There is dialog. I loved how the Russian fighting in Poland (WW1) is described. Now the Russian Revolution has taken place, and you see what life was like for Russians, in particular these Russian characters. With the Bolshevik Revolution the entire society fell apart. Starvation, typhus, consumption. Turning a dream into reality is no simple task. I am totally engaged now. It still is not a love story though. Yuri is a doctor and he is trying his best in a society that is completely new to him. Lara is a nurse, they have met, but each is married to another. So let's call this a slow boiler. The book engagingly depicts the Russian experience at the beginning of the 1900s through the World War One and now the Revolution. It is interesting, it is engaging, but scarcely a love story yet. Not yet! The Wiki article doesn't give that many details the further into the story you get. Parts 6-9 are clumped together. It is interesting - as the story starts getting deeper, engaging and filled with dialog, Wiki isn't needed any more. So Wiki helped me. I thought I would let others know - maybe how they too can get the most out of this novel or at least how to get through the beginning parts until you know who is who. My idea is to read this and then The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book and The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants. I am definitely engaged in the book now, while before it was a struggle.

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