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Doctor Zhivago

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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 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.

592 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 1957

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About the author

Boris Pasternak

448 books1,194 followers
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born in Moscow to talented artists: his father a painter and illustrator of Tolstoy's works, his mother a well-known concert pianist. Though his parents were both Jewish, they became Christianized, first as Russian Orthodox and later as Tolstoyan Christians. Pasternak's education began in a German Gymnasium in Moscow and was continued at the University of Moscow. Under the influence of the composer Scriabin, Pasternak took up the study of musical composition for six years from 1904 to 1910. By 1912 he had renounced music as his calling in life and went to the University of Marburg, Germany, to study philosophy. After four months there and a trip to Italy, he returned to Russia and decided to dedicate himself to literature.

Pasternak's first books of verse went unnoticed. With My Sister Life, 1922, and Themes and Variations, 1923, the latter marked by an extreme, though sober style, Pasternak first gained a place as a leading poet among his Russian contemporaries. In 1924 he published Sublime Malady, which portrayed the 1905 revolt as he saw it, and The Childhood of Luvers, a lyrical and psychological depiction of a young girl on the threshold of womanhood. A collection of four short stories was published the following year under the title Aerial Ways. In 1927 Pasternak again returned to the revolution of 1905 as a subject for two long works: "Lieutenant Schmidt", a poem expressing threnodic sorrow for the fate of the Lieutenant, the leader of the mutiny at Sevastopol, and "The Year 1905", a powerful but diffuse poem which concentrates on the events related to the revolution of 1905. Pasternak's reticent autobiography, Safe Conduct, appeared in 1931, and was followed the next year by a collection of lyrics, Second Birth, 1932. In 1935 he published translations of some Georgian poets and subsequently translated the major dramas of Shakespeare, several of the works of Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, and Ben Jonson, and poems by Petöfi, Verlaine, Swinburne, Shelley, and others. In Early Trains, a collection of poems written since 1936, was published in 1943 and enlarged and reissued in 1945 as Wide Spaces of the Earth. In 1957 Doctor Zhivago, Pasternak's only novel - except for the earlier "novel in verse", Spektorsky (1926) - first appeared in an Italian translation and has been acclaimed by some critics as a successful attempt at combining lyrical-descriptive and epic-dramatic styles.

Pasternak lived in Peredelkino, near Moscow, until his death in 1960.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,241 reviews
Profile Image for Ilse (away until November).
475 reviews3,132 followers
February 27, 2021

At last, time had the kindness to grace me with the chance to read this novel that seems to have been on my shelves for decades, and to watch the film, and the recent mini-series (mama, why are you ever watching war dramas?). And as such wasn’t already enough, a heavenly sent, uncommon week of snow and icy temperatures descended onto these parts, perfectly in tune with large chunks of the novel. Books, cats, life is good under the blanket, even more as one can read an engrossing novel like this one in ideal circumstances – in winter, and not in want of food or heating. For some reason, I was shamefully prejudiced about this novel, keeping it for an overrated, anti-communist manifesto, once acclaimed in the west as part of the propaganda wars. The book however turned out by no means pamphleteering. I was surprised though how much space Pasternak devotes to religious contemplation (which reminded me of the chapters on Pontius Pilatus in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita), wondering if that would have been more problematic for the regime than the depiction of the revolution if they would have actually read it before banning it from publication.

Did I enjoy reading it? Absolutely. It is a masterpiece, and what is not to like about Pasternak’s lyrical and often dreamlike eloquence, the gorgeous bunch of fascinating characters, the abundance of discussions and ideas, stunning descriptions of nature and radiant scenes as atmospheric as they are cinematic, those magnificent poems as the occluding track? Did it turn into one of my favourite novels ever? Not quite, I am afraid – it didn’t enrapture me like Bulgakov’s novel did. Nonetheless, I know I will read it again, hoping that by then I can find the words to shape the thoughts that crossed my mind reading this marvellous novel.

(Illustration: Alexander Mostov, The Rowan Tree)
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,229 followers
October 23, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,634 followers
November 9, 2022
كيف تعز الثورات قوم..و تذل اخرين
هذا اكثر ما أسرني في دكتور زيفاجو
أشهر وأهم الروايات المهربة عبر القرن 20..
.ميلودراما تاريخية رومانسية..سياسية نقديةScreenshot_2018_09_21_15_00_38_1
..ابطالها خمسة يظل الحب سادسهم..لستة وعشرين عام حافلة باحداث دموية متلاحقة. .فارقة
زيفاجو من الكلاسيكيات الحتمية..اى لابد ان تقراها في مرحلة ما من حياتك..فهي تنتمي لأدب الثورات
..ادب الحرب
ادب رومانسي
أدب تاريخي
و لكنها إنسانية في المقام الأول 💫
.فاكثر ما مسني في الرواية هي مشاعر عزيز قوم ذل..يوري الطبيب الشاعر الفيلسوف الذي يتمتع بمزاج الفنان و حساسيته..رسمه باسترناك بتكامل قلما يتوفر لبطل رواية معاصرة
..نجده يهبط من
طبيب برجوازي ثري..لطبيب بالجيش..للاجيء بالريف ..اخيرا يرحل لاهثا خلف سعادته المفقودة
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
November 26, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews50 followers
September 5, 2021
(Book 486 from 1001 books) - До́ктор Жива́го = Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator.

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؛ نویسنده بوریس پاسترناک؛ انتشاراتیها (دریا، سیروس، گنجینه، ساحل، دادار، سمیر دبیر، پیروز؛ نگاه و شباهنگ؛ واژه، نگارستان، قم نظاره، البرز فردانش) موضوع ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین تماشای فیلم سالها پیش؛ و سپس خوانش کتاب در ماه دسامبر سال 1969میلادی؛

عنوان: دکتر ژیواگو؛ نویسنده: بوریس پاسترناک؛ مترجم: علی محیط؛ ترجمه از متن انگلیسی؛ تهران، دریا، 1337؛ در 560ص؛ چاپ دوم 1342؛ چاپ سوم 1343؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، کتابفروشی سیروس، 1337، در 549ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، گنجینه، چاپ هشتم 1361؛ در 560ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، ساحل، 1369، در 560ص؛ شابک 9646495184؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، دادار، 1380، در 560ص، شابک 9647294204؛ چاپ سیزدهم 1382؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، سمیر، دبیر، 1386؛ در 508ص؛ شابک 9789648940466؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، ساحل، چاپ چهاردهم سال1390، در 630ص؛ شابک 9789646495180؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسنگان روسیه - سده 20م

مترجم: علی اصغر خبره زاده؛ تهران، اطلاعات، 1338، در 312ص؛ تهران، پیروز، 1362؛ در 756ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نگاه، شباهنگ، 1392؛ در 840ص؛ شابک 9789643517335؛

مترجم: کامران بهمنی؛ تهران، واژه، 1382، در 161ص؛ شابک 9645607434؛ چاپ دوم 1384؛ چاپ سوم 1388؛

مترجمها: داریوش شاهین؛ سوسن اردکانی؛ تهران، نگارستان، 1380، در 1003ص؛ شابک 9786005541120؛ چاپ دیگر قم، نظاره، 1396، در1014ص؛ شابک 9786008394990؛

مترجم: مریم وکیل زاده؛ تهران، البرز فردانش، 1396، در 800ص؛ شابک: 9786002025197؛

نام کتاب برگرفته از شخصیت نخست کتاب –یک دکتر شاعر– است؛ درونمایه ی داستان، زندگی مردیست که عاشق دو زن است، و این همزمان با انقلاب اکتبر 1917میلادی «روسیه»، و جنگ داخلی در کشور شوراهای آن روزگاران بوده است؛ رخدادهای بیرونی از دسترس ایشان به دور هستند، و مسیر زندگی­ اش را دگرگون می‌سازند؛ در سال 1965میلادی «دیوید لین»، با اقتباس و از روی همین کتاب، فیلمی با همین نام «دکتر ژیواگو» ساختند، و در سال2005میلادی هم، در «روسیه»، با اقتباس از متن همین کتاب، یک سریال ساخته شد؛ نوشتن کتاب در سال 1956میلادی، 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 سال1957میلادی، ناشری «ایتالیایی» آنرا در «ایتالیا» چاپ کرد، و نویسنده جایزه ی نوبل گرفتند؛

کتاب در سال 1988میلادی، در «روسیه» نیز به چاپ رسید؛ در ایران هم چاپ پنجم از ترجمه جناب «علی محیط» به سال 1342هجری 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 1362هجری 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، جایی که گونه­ ها دریده شده 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، سال1361هجری خورشیدی

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 07/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 13/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Colin Baldwin.
Author 1 book244 followers
July 3, 2022
Where is my anticipated 5-star, gushing review?

My expectations were way too high.

For decades I’ve looked forward to reading this classic, and on the whole it has let me down.

I accept Doctor Zhivago has won awards and accolades, and many Goodreads users have joined in with this. I truly wish I could do the same, but this novel left me quite confused and cold.

I googled Boris Pasternak and his novel to help me fully realise what I did and didn’t understand in the plot. I plan to watch the acclaimed David Lean movie adaptation and this may give me a better perspective and lighten my misgivings.

And here’s my main concern: the famous love triangle at the centre of this book was unconvincing. What have I missed?

At times, I also found the politics and revolutionary ideology difficult to follow. Sadly, some of the dialogue was ‘clunky’ and strange. Perhaps this is a result of deficits in translation?

Seven minutes could be told over more than one page and yet seven years fleetingly within one paragraph. I usually respond well to this style of time jumps, but for some reason it baffled me within this text.

There is no doubt Boris Pasternak offers some remarkable, poetic narrative, such as the sweeping pastoral and desolate landscapes, often adding to a sense of loneliness, and bringing the fierce Russian winters to the fore. These aspects worked well for me and are worthy of praise, however disappointingly not enough to elevate it to a higher rating.

There is a part of me that believes (and hopes) a re-read may yield a different appraisal.
Profile Image for BookHunter محمد.
1,434 reviews3,351 followers
October 14, 2022

عزيزي مترجم الأدب الروسي:
ليه واحده يبقي اسمها لاريسا فيودوروفنا غيشار و أحيانا يطلق عليها السيدة أنتيبوف أو أنتيبوفا. لماذا لا يكون اسمها لارا منذ بداية الرواية لنهايتها؟ أفهم أن التقاليد الروسية تستدعي ذلك و أن أمانة الترجمة تقتضي عدم التعديل لكن و الله العظيم ما حد هيزعل لو كان الأبطال هم يوري و لارا و تونيا و روديا و باشا و كنا سنتابع الأحداث بسهولة أكثر بدلا من التركيز على حفظ خريطة الأسماء المكعبلة الثلاثية في كل الروايات الروسية علما بأنني لن أقوم بعمل توكيل رسمي لأي من الأبطال حتى أحتاج للأسم الثلاثي.

المهم أن لدي طريقة لاختبار مدي استيعابك للأسماء الروسية و هي أن تقول ماساشوستس عشر مرات متتالية فإن نطقتها بدون خطأ فستتمكن عندها من قراءة الأدب الروسي.

قرأت طبعة دار المدي للترجمة و النشر و كانت الترجمة مملة جدا دفعتني لترك الرواية في منتصفها و مشاهدة الفيلم مما جعل قراءة النصف الأخر من الرواية أكثر متعة و سلاسة.

لا شيء عبثيا ولا منطقيا في هذه الحياة، أكثر من الحياة ذاتها.

ما الذي يمنعني من أن أكون طبيبا أو أديبا؟ أظن أن السبب لا يعود إلى حرماننا أو تيهاننا أو عدم الاستقرار في حياتنا، بل يعود إلى النزعة الخطابية السائدة التي عمت كل مكان - عبارات مثل : فجر الغد، بناء عالم جديد، حاملو مشعل الإنسانية .. فعندما تسمع هذا الهراء للمرة الأولى لا تتمالك من التفكير " يا له من خيال واسع، يا له من غنى! " بينما هو في الواقع يمثل هذه الفخامة لأنه عديم الخيال ومن سقط المتاع

لويس باسترناك يكتب نفسه هنا في رواية بها الكثير من سيرته الذاتية مدموجة بتاريخ أفول روسيا القيصرية و صعود الثورة البلشفية. في أتون الحرب العالمية الأولي التي خرجت منها روسيا منسحبة و مفضلة عزلتها الثورية على الصراع مع العالم أجمع ضد العالم أجمع في حرب عبثية المنتصر فيها خاسر أيضا إلى أتون حرب أخري داخلية أهلية دمرت روسيا لإعادة بنائها على أسس ثورية جديدة لن تلبث بعد فترة أن تصير ديكتاتورية قديمة و عودة للعبثية مرة أخرى.

إن في نفسي شيئا محطما .. بل في كل حياتي شيء مكسور .. لقد اكشفت الحياة في سن مبكرة أكثر مما ينبغي .. كان مقدرا علي أن أكتشفها، وكان مقدرا علي أن أراها من أسوأ نواحيها

الرواية ملأى بالفلسفة النابضة بالحياة عن العمران و الخراب للنفوس و للمدن و الجمادات و سائر الأحياء و عن جدوى الحياة و عبثيتها في الوقت نفسه.
شاعر و أديب و طبيب هو يوري بطل الرواية و كأنه باسترناك نفسه الذي يعد من أبرز شعراء روسيا في القرن العشرين.
رواية حصدت نوبل ربما لأسباب سياسية لأنها انتقدت الثورة الروسية في وقت كان الغرب يحتاج فيه لمن ينتقد الروس من الدخل ثم لم تلبث أن حصدت جوائز الأوسكار في الفيلم الشهير في منتصف الستينات.

عن الحب و الحياة لخصت لارا أحداث الرواية ككل في إسلوب خال من الفلسفة نابض بالحكمة في الوقت ذاته. كيف تحطم الحرب القلوب قبل المنازل و الجيوب و كيف تنقلب الحياة رأسا على عقب من أعلى السلم الاجتماعي إلى أدناه و كيف ينقلب الحال من وجيه من وجهاء المجتمع و نجوم حفلاته إلى شبه متسول يمشي من بلد لبلد حافيا على قدمين يحملان جسدا يرتعد بردا و يإن جوعا بداخله قلب به خواء يتسع للعالم أجمع.
كيف يصير القتل حدثا يوميا بعد أن كان خبر مقتل انسان جدير بتصدر عناوين الصحف. ثم تجري القفزة من هذا الإعتدال المسالم الساذج إلى مرح��ة الدماء و الدموع. و الجنون الجماعي و وحشية التقتيل اليومي. الشرعي المكافَأ.

انهيار المؤسسات و غيات المؤن و تدهور الأمن و البلاء الاجتماعي أصبح ساريا. كان سريع العدوى فأصاب كل شيء و لم يسلم من ملامسته شيء. أصبحنا عنجهيين متعجرفين على نحو أبله سخيف بعضنا مع البعض الأخر.

تاريخ ربع العالم في فترة من أصعب فتراته يتجسد في تلك الرواية العظيمة لو كانت الترجمة أفضل.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
May 19, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Kinga.
479 reviews2,255 followers
February 10, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews351 followers
March 5, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,496 reviews2,383 followers
September 24, 2022

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 older more reader friendly version or a newer translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky that sticks closer to the poetic flow of Pasternak's original text. I went for the latter simply because if this is how Pasternak intended it to be, then I wanted to read it in its purest form. Both Pevear and Volokhonsky have worked on Dostoyevsky & Tolstoy and received translation accolades in the process, so I knew it just had to be these two.

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 Russian masterpiece.

This version concludes with the 'poems of Yuri Zhivago', which polishes off perfectly the great novel that went before.
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
576 reviews7,779 followers
July 11, 2017
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).
Profile Image for Luís.
1,949 reviews615 followers
August 22, 2023
"Doctor Zhivago," or the trajectory of a cultivated man, poet, and sensitive, resulting from the liberal intelligentsia, through the tumultuous times of Russia of 1905 until the tragic consequences of the revolution of 1917.
Here is a classic novel in the Russian tradition of the 19th century, with multiple characters grappling with harsh historical reality. So there is nothing original here, except that we have the impression that it is a nineteenth-century novelist holding the pen, a Tolstoy lost in the twentieth century. The plot owes too much chance to be plausible - these men and women who meet get lost and find themselves by chance in this immense country. This fact is not believable - the characters' psychology is sketchy, and the style is often heavy.
There are, however, beautiful pages, embellished as far as I'm concerned, by images from David Lean's film. So thank you to Omar Sharif, especially the attractive Julie Christie, who helped me turn the pages.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,258 followers
June 16, 2023
Dr. Zhivago is more famous for the film version by the magnificent British director David Lean, so romantic that it brought in countless millions of customers to see and soak their eyes. The book by Boris Pasternak is very different more of a tour of the brutal, epic journey in the destruction and the resurrection of mother Russia from 1902 to the 1950's, revisiting a painful chapter, nevertheless the characters involved are well sketched and many people in the background are real. A historical fiction that tells how the largest nation on Earth suffered and still does. Its people are great but her governments aren't............................The good doctor Yuri Andreievich Zhivago, ( a mouthful which Russian names tend to be) was the son of Andrei, a millionaire drunkard, a neglectful man frequently absent from his family sometimes for years, rumors he has a second family. Poor mother Maria Nikolaievna a bad heart ends her brief candle light soon followed by her husband. The boy's half-brother enigmatic Evgraf Andreievich Zhivago a product of an illicit affair, helps his orphaned sibling. Raised him and gave Yuri a good education. Zhivago as a youth meets the love of his life Larisa Feodorovna Guishar not noticed much by him but an unfortunate incident makes a mark. Victor Ippolitovich Komarovsky , Yuri's late father's corrupt lawyer, now both Lara's mother Amalia and afterwards the daughter's lover. Then Lara causes turmoil in a fabulous party in Moscow but kept quiet. These events maybe today are shadows on the wall the consequences still resonate in Russia and the world. Notwithstanding all the politics and tragedies the center of the novel is the attraction between Yuri and Lara, that the film highlights to tremendous effect. The two both marry others yet they never lose hope, their passion continues and reignites even though the high tides of revolution and civil war frequently separates and takes them to unknown regions, like an ocean's waves , still their feelings remain unchanged. An idyllic small house in Siberia in the middle of nowhere proves this. Most people will not care about the conflicts, and the resulting butchery can make for a difficult story to read, yet the lives of the couple gives magic to the concept that living could be the same way. If you desire a narrative that entertains and informs about dark days in a nation's struggle for salvation never achieved, this written by a man who witnessed unimaginable scenes that turns the stomach of modern humans, regardless this history must never be forgotten.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
September 17, 2019
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.

Profile Image for Mark André .
118 reviews249 followers
December 30, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,447 followers
April 27, 2023
Firește, contextul lecturii modifică importanța (și, poate, semnificația) unei cărți. Am citit romanul lui Pasternak mai întîi în engleză. Era în 1989. Un prieten a tradus cîteva zeci de pagini (tot după versiunea engleză) pentru Opinia studențească. Abia atunci am aflat împrejurările publicării acestui roman. Trecerea manuscrisului peste graniță. Tipărirea la editura italiană Feltrinelli. Premiul Nobel pe 1958. Scandalul...

Cînd citești o carte prohibită, nu poți judeca limpede. Toți am fost de acord, atunci, că Doctor Jivago este o capodoperă a subversiunii. Justificam această apreciere superlativă invocînd, în primul rînd, latura lui social-politică. Vedeam în carte o critică a revoluției bolșevice și a crimelor comise în numele ei de către fanatici de teapa lui Strelnikov. Aspectul pur estetic ne interesa prea puțin. Astăzi e ușor de sesizat că interpretam greșit romanul lui Pasternak.

În fond, doctorul și poetul Iuri Andreevici Jivago, protagonistul cărții, privește tot ceea ce se întîmplă în jur cu un ochi mai degrabă apatic și neînțelegător. Suportă fără să condamne și îndură fără să se revolte. În lume s-a instalat haosul. Viața lui e dominată, brusc, de hazard. O pierde pe Lara (Larisa Antipova) și apoi o regăsește, pentru a o pierde din nou. O pierde și pe Tonia, soția lui, care va fugi, mai tîrziu, cu întreaga lui familie la Paris. În timpul războiului civil, timp de un an și jumătate, e răpit de partizani și constrîns să-i îngrijească pe răniți. Cînd va putea, va porni pe jos către Moscova (partea cea mai frumoasă din roman). Cam atît despre ceea ce se petrece în carte.

Mulți au găsit romanului defecte de construcție. Vladimir Nabokov, printre ei: „Romanul e o melodramă informă”. Dar cine poate uita episodul iubirii dintre doctor și fascinanta Lara?

În această replică, parcă vorbește Nastasia Filippovna: „Sînt o ființă rea. Nu mă cunoști, dar odată și-odată o să-ți povestesc. Mi-e greu acum să vorbesc, vezi că mă îneacă lacrimile. Însă, tu, Pașa, părăsește-mă, uită-mă. Nu te merit”.

În schimb, resemnarea doctorului Jivago m-a intrigat. Viața trece peste el, dar Iura Jivago acceptă totul fără crîcnire. La început, pasivitatea lui m-a nedumirit. Cu timpul, am început s-o înțeleg. Cînd te găsești în mijlocul vîrtejului, e imposibil să-ți dai seama încotro te poartă...

Poeziile din final nu mi-au plăcut. Probabil că sună mai bine în rusește.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,087 followers
March 1, 2020
Cada cierto tiempo siento la necesidad acuciante de leerme un novelón ruso, una de esas obras melodramáticas cargadas de un millar de personajes cuyas vidas están marcadas por la tragedia.
Guerra y paz, Anna Karenina, Vida y destino, Crimen y castigo... Todas ellas fueron novelas que me hicieron comprender un poco mejor la mentalidad rusa y especialmente desentrañar el terror de su Historia reciente.
Dolor, guerra, revolución, muerte.
Todo eso está muy presente en El doctor Zhivago, obra que nos relata las andanzas de este doctor a lo largo de su vida, pasando por dos Guerras Mundiales y dos Revoluciones.
La historia me atrapó desde el principio y toda la primera mitad de la obra la disfruté enormemente, el autor va desplegando una telaraña de personajes que el destino hará que vuelvan a encontrarse una y otra vez. Quizás en la recta final cuando el romance se vuelve más presente y la tragedia rodea a nuestros personajes, dejé de sentir tanto interés por ellos. Me faltó una mayor presencia de todos estos personajes que se nos habían ido presentando, una mayor relevancia en sus historias... Pero al final resultaron ser pequeñas piezas en los recuerdos de Yuri Zhivago.
De todas maneras, y a pesar de ser más tradicional y menos impactante que 'Vida y destino' (por poner un ejemplo), he disfrutado mucho de esta historia y de sus personajes, y especialmente de esa manera de mostrarnos las atrocidades del comunismo, lo absurdo de la guerra y la mella que fue dejando en el pueblo ruso todo esto.
Una lectura, que a pesar de sus 700 páginas me ha resultado ligera, emotiva y emocionante. Un drama romántico pero con un trasfondo crítico muy fuerte, todo ello narrado con la habilidad de un gran poeta.
Profile Image for Brett C.
806 reviews180 followers
June 15, 2022
If I read this in my 20s, I would have hated it.
In my early 30s, I would have misunderstood it.
Now, I appreciate it.

We all know a Doctor Zhivago—we're either related to him or he's in our close circle of friends. The archetype character of Doctor Yuri Andreievich Zhivago was flawed and complex. This was expressed through the author's interchangeable use of Russian names and diminutives (intimate nicknames or family names); these often reflecting the many characters' mental state and interactions with other characters.

Our main character was referred to by four names:
1. Doctor Zhivago, the medical physician and the Hippocratic preserver of life.
2. Yuri, the adult who interacted with the world in a healthy manner, made responsible choices, and provided for his family.

3. Yura, the immature adult, the lover, the aesthete, and the poet. On the darker side Yura was emotionally guarded and constricted in affect, depressed, and distant.

4. Yurochka, the little boy—the inner child who was sad & meditative, mindful of his surroundings yet indecisive, and haunted by loss. Doctor Zhivago ranged widely throughout the book but consistently. He was always torn between what he was and what he could be: "serving two masters" (pg 391).
Yura realized he was at the monastery where that night [of his mother's funeral] he had wept as a child. More vividly than ever before he realized that art has two constants, two unending concerns: it always meditates on death and thus always creates life. pg 87

Secondly, there is no real plot. It felt like the lengthy list of characters were moving along through their lives, colliding into each other from time to time. The plot ran from the early 1900s up to World War II. There were lots of subtle disparaging remarks about the early years of the Soviet Union and putting light onto the negative outcomes of Marxist-Leninist ideology: suffering, war, famine, and innocent lives shattered.

I got a copy of the 1958 translation by Max Hayward and Manya Harari (H&H) while in the middle of reading the 2010 Richard Peavear & Larissa Volokhonsky (P&V) version. In my opinion, I prefer the 1958 H&H translation because it read smoother and seemed more elegant than the clunky and uneven P&V translation. Here's an example:

H&H: from pg 253
A clear, frosty night. Unusual brilliance and perfection of everything visible. Earth, sky, moon, and stars, all seemed cemented, riveted together by the frost. Shadows of the trees lie across the paths, so sharp that they endlessly crossed the road at various places. Big stars hang in the woods between branches like blue lanterns. Small ones are strewn all over the sky like daisies in the summer field.

P&V: from pg 336
A clear, frosty night. Extraordinary brightness and wholeness of the visible. Earth, air, moon, stars, fettered together, riveted by frost. In the park, the distinct shadows of trees lie across the alleys, seeming carved in relief. It seems all the time as if some dark figures are ceaselessly crossing the path in various places. Big stars like blue mica lamps hang in the forest among the branches. The whole sky is strewn with little stars like a summer meadow of chamomile.

I recently watched the incredibly long movie and it played mostly on the romance aspect. I thought both the book and the movie were equally excellent in their own right. I'd recommend both if you can find the time. Thanks!
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,531 reviews979 followers
August 12, 2016

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 . 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.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books969 followers
February 26, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Mª Carmen.
632 reviews
May 16, 2023
“Hay que vivir sin imposturas, vivir de modo que con el tiempo nos lleguemos a ganar el amor del espacio, y oigamos la voz del futuro.”

Es la segunda vez que leo esta novela. Obra maestra de la literatura es la frase que mejor la define.

Dice la sinopsis:
Yuri Andréyevich jamás podría olvidar la primera vez que vio a Larisa Fiódorovna en la habitación de aquel hotel decadente. Allí, sumido en la penumbra, el joven Zhivago se sintió devastado por una fuerza ignota que oprimió su corazón. La visión de aquella joven atormentada marcaría su destino, presagio de un futuro preñado de extraños y sugerentes encuentros entre ambos que desembocarían en una relación tempestuosa, protagonistas de un amor imposible, trágico y apasionado en el marco de una Rusia desgarrada violentamente por la Revolución de 1917 y el advenimiento de un nuevo orden.

Mis impresiones.

Me ha gustado mucho este libro. Ha sido una lectura maravillosa. Tenía a mi favor, que lo había leído por primera vez hace años, por lo que ni la sinopsis ni el recuerdo de la película me llevaron a engaño. Digo esto, porque la historia de amor entre Yuri y Lara, tiene su peso en la trama, pero no es ni lo único ni el eje central. La maravillosa adaptación cinematográfica, dirigida por David Lean, le ha hecho más mal que bien a todos los lectores que se acercaron al libro con la esperanza de revivir, mediante la palabra escrita, ese romance triste pero intenso.

Es difícil contar en pocas palabras la trama. No se trata de un libro sobre la revolución. Tampoco puede decirse que sea contrarrevolucionario. Vamos a vivir la transformación de la sociedad rusa, desde 1905 hasta finales de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, a través de los ojos de su protagonista, Yuri Andréyevich, el doctor Zhivago.
Yuri Andréyevich tiene diez años en 1905, cuando comienza la novela. Será testigo de excepción de una época convulsa. Yuri, que pertenece a la burguesía acomodada, es un intelectual romántico. Siente que Rusia debe evolucionar y en un principio acoge de buen grado los cambios. No tardará mucho en desencantarse primero de la ineficacia y después del horror del adoctrinamiento, del pensamiento unitario. Paralelamente, se debatirá entre el cariño por su esposa, Tonia, y el amor que siente por Lara.

Son muchos los personajes que aparecen en la novela. Se agradece la relación que figura al final del libro. Todos y cada uno representan una figura distinta, un arquetipo de la sociedad rusa, ya sean principales o secundarios.

La prosa de Pasternak es brillante. Las descripciones de los lugares, de la grandeza del paisaje, de los viajes, del clima, de la guerra y de la miseria y privaciones son excepcionales. No es un libro con muchos diálogos, pero los que tiene son pura reflexión. Filosofía, literatura y sobre todos ellos la manera de cada personaje de concebir la vida y como vivirla. Destacar aquellos pasajes de puro lirismo, poesía hecha prosa.

El final y sobre todo el epílogo muestran sin dejar lugar a la duda lo que Pasternak pensaba que fueron los frutos de la revolución. La figura de Tania, la hija de Yuri y Lara, tan contrapuesta a lo que fueron sus padres es representativa en sí misma.

En conclusión. Una obra maestra de la literatura. Para leer despacio, saboreando y con atención plena. Recomendable, un imperdible, pero no para cualquier momento.

“En la vida es más importante perder que ganar. La simiente no germina si no muere. Hay que vivir sin dejarse llevar, mirar hacia adelante y alimentarse de aquellas provisiones vivas que tanto el olvido como el recuerdo elaboran.”
April 23, 2012
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.

Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book565 followers
April 30, 2021
”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.

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. 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.
Profile Image for Mohamed Al.
Author 2 books4,944 followers
November 29, 2015
دعوني أطلعكم على سرّ صغيرٍ يا أصدقاء، لقد أصبحت مؤخرًا قارئًا مزاجيًّا ونزقًا، أقرأ ما يعجبني فقط، وإذا لم يرُق لي عملٌ ما توقفت عن قراءته فورًا، حتى لو كان العمل من الرّوائع المتفق عليها بإجماع قرّاء الأمة .. أمة الكتب بطبيعة الحال

كانت هذه الرواية، في بدايتها، مرشّحة بقوة لأن تكون واحدة من هذه الأعمال التي قررت عدم إكمالها. فباسترناك  يكرس ال١٠٠ صفحة الأولى من الرواية، التي يبلغ عدد صفحاتها ٧٨٠ صفحة تقريبًا، في تقديم والتعريف بعدد لا يحصى من الشخصيات. تعاني وأنت تقرأ لتتذكر اسماءها الرسمية، اسماءها المختصرة، اسماءها المستعارة، وعلاقاتها ببعضها البعض. ثم تكتشف بخيبة أمل، بعد أن تكون قطعت شوطًا كبيرًا في القراءة، بأن الكثير من هذه الشخصيات لن يكون لها دور في أحداث الرواية، وأغلبها لن يعود للظهور مرة أخرى.

على الرغم من كل ذلك، ظللت ولسبب مجهول مشدودًا بخيط سحريّ إلى الرواية، وأقتنص ما تيسر لي من الوقت كل يوم لمتابعة القراءة. ثم، وبمصادفة بحتة اصطدمت بملاحظة كتبتها الشاعرة الروسية الرائعة مارينا تسفيتاييفا يومًا، فسرت لي حالة الانجذاب الغريبة هذه، تقول الشاعرة : " .. تأثير باسترناك يعادل تأثير النوم؛ نحن لا نفهمه، نحن نسقط فيه، نقع تحت تأثيره، نغرق فيه. نحن نفهم باسترناك كما تفهمنا الحيوانات .. "

ربّما كان هذا أدقّ وأصدق وصف لتجربة القراءة للشاعر، وهو شاعر قبل أن يكون روائيًا، بوريس باسترناك، فعلى الرغم من الصعوبة التي واجهتها وأنا أقرأ الرواية إلا أن سرد باسترناك الشاعري كان محفزًا لي لإكمال القراءة!

على غلاف النسخة التي قرأتها، والصادرة عن دار المدى، لفت انتباهي إلى أن من قام بترجمة الرواية بم يكن مترجمًا معروفًا، ولم يكن مترجمًا واحدًا، بل مجموعة من الأدباء العرب، وما ذلك في رأيي إلا لكون لغة باسترناك تعويذة لا يقوى على فكّ طلاسمها إلا أعتى الأدباء وأكثرهم مهارة وبراعة!

لم أكن، قبل أن أقرأ لباسترناك، أتخيل أنك تستطيع أن تصف الطبيعة بكل مكوناتها من سماء، وشمس، ونجوم. وثلوج...الخ بهذه الطريقة التي يصفها بها باسترناك والتي تجعلك في كل مرة تصفعك فيها الريح على وجهك، أو تضربك الشمس على رأسك، أو تتلصص عليك النجوم من مواقعها في السماء أن تشعر بجمال هذا الكون وسحره!

هذه الرواية، هي قبل كل شيء، ملحمة إنسانية، تشبه في أسلوبها، وفي بنائها الفنّي والدرامي تلك الروايات العظيمة والضخمة التي دأب عمالقة الأدب الروسي من أمثال تولستوي ودستويسفكي على كتابتها، ويستطيع القارئ منذ الأسطر الأولى أن يتلمّس أثر ونفس تولستوي بوضوح بين جنباتها، وبالتحديد روايته الحرب والسلم.

وهي رواية، تجسّد بعمق المرحلة القاتمة للثورة البلشفيّة، التي عانى الآلاف من ويلاتها، وقتلوا، وشنقوا، وماتوا كمدا في سيبيريا، من دون أن يعبأ بهم أحد. وقد كان بوريس باسترناك واحدا من أولئك المثقفين والمبدعين الأحرار الذين واجهوا التسلّط الشيوعي في أبشع أشكاله ومستوياته، وتعرضوا لمضايقات وإرهاب السلطة وعنفه. فخلال تلك الحقبة السوداء أعدم ستالين العديد من المثقفين، والشعراء، وكان قد أعد لائحة تؤيّد محاكمات الإعدام، طالبا من جميع الروس المصادقة عليها. وعن ذلك يقول باسترناك "جاؤوني ذات يوم بلائحة طالبين منّي توقيعها. وكان محتواها يتضمّن الموافقة على المحاكمات والإعدامات الكثيرة في تلك الفترة. وكانت زوجتي تنتظر طفلا. وقد بكت من شدّة الخوف. غير أني رفضت. وفي ذلك اليوم، فكرت: هل عليّ أن أحاول الصّمود والمقاومة أم لا؟ كنت متيقّنا من أنهم سوف يقتلوني، وأن دوري قد حان. غير أني كنت مستعدّا لذلك. كنت أكره كلّ ذلك الدّم المسفوح . ولم يكن باستطاعتي أن أتحمّل حالة الإرهاب والتعسّف التي كانت قد بلغت أقصى مراتبها"

وحدث ما توقعه باسترناك عندما انتهى من كتابة رواته المثيرة للجدل "دكتور جيفاجو" التي لم يستطع نشرها داخل بلاده، فساعده بعض أصدقائه خارج الإتحاد السوفيتيي آنذاك على نشرها في إيطاليا ومن ثم في لندن، ونال على أثرها جائزة نوبل للآداب. وهنا ابتدأ هجوم حاد وعنيف من الجهات الرس��ية الروسية ضد الرواية وكاتبها مما استدعاه الى رفض تسلم الجائزة لما فيها من محاذير. وكتب عن تلك الفترة قائلا: "لقد وضعت كما الوحش في زريبة، في مكان ما ومن خلفي صخب المطاردة، وليس من طريق أمامي للخروج لكنني عند حافة القبر اشعر أنه سيأتي اليوم الذي سيزول فيه كل ذلك الخوف"

‎ربما كانت طيبة قلبه وسذاجته التي جعلته يعتقد أنه من الممكن نشر هذه الرواية في الاتحاد السوفييتي. أو ربما لأنه آمن دائما بالحياة، بالحب، وبالإنسان!
Profile Image for Murray.
Author 151 books549 followers
July 17, 2023
❄️ So I too, as others, enjoyed the iconic movie 🍿 far more than I enjoyed the novel, which I found disjointed and haphazard. On the other hand, the poetry Pasternak wrote and placed in the heart of the doctor is wonderful.

🌙 I suppose my fav part of the film (book) is when Zhivago sits down at night, in the dead of a Russian winter, in a multi-windowed room, a wolf howling (or do I imagine that?), sheets of gleaming snow-white paper stacked at his elbow, a pen and fresh ink at hand and, on fire with the joy and anticipation of creation, as only artists know it, begins to create, imago Dei, writing poems as they flow like streams of water or lava from his soul.

✨ White Night

I am dreaming of a far off time,
A house over on the Petersburg Side:
The daughter of a modest steppe landowner,
You’re taking courses, you were born in Kursk.

You’re sweet, you have admirers.
On this white night the two of us,
Having settled on your window sill,
Are looking down from your skyscraper.

Streetlights like gas butterflies,
Morning touched by a first tremor.
What I am softly telling you
Is so much like the sleeping distance!

We are gripped by the very same
Timid loyalty to the secret
As Petersburg spreading its panorama
Beyond the boundless river Neva.

Far off at the dense confines,
On this white night in the spring,
Nightingales fill the forest’s limits
With their thunderous hymns of glory.

The crazy trilling surges, rolls,
The voice of the little homely bird
Awakens ecstasy and turmoil
In the depths of the enchanted wood.

In those parts, night, the barefoot pilgrim,
Making her way along the fence,
Draws after her from the window sill
A trail of overheard conversation.

To the echoes of talk heard aloud,
In orchards fenced with wooden palings,
Bending apple and cherry boughs
Clothe themselves in whitish flowers.

And the trees, like white apparitions,
Pour in a crowd out to the road,
Waving as if to bid farewell
To the white night that has seen so much.

Profile Image for Georgia Scott.
Author 3 books201 followers
December 12, 2022
"Ever since his schooldays he had dreamed of writing a book in prose, a book of impressions of life in which he could conceal, like buried sticks of dynamite, the most striking things he had so far seen and thought about."

Zhivago dreamed. Pasternak did it. The sticks of dynamite are here. Yet, in common with the real thing, not all go off.

This story of a flawed marriage, a flawed love affair, and a flawed system of government perhaps could not be otherwise. As with Persian carpets, the flaws may be necessary.

Reading it can be like trudging through snow drifts at times. Slow going. Hard to see where it's leading. The sentences are weighted with a weariness as it moves along. I nearly gave up more than once.

Then, something that Yury, Tonya, or Lara said drew me back. I couldn't leave them.
I still haven't. Not entirely. Snowflakes cling to my eyelashes.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
464 reviews607 followers
November 22, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Alice Poon.
Author 5 books279 followers
March 4, 2018

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.

Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
413 reviews216 followers
December 22, 2016

Αριστούργημα από πολλές απόψεις. Το έργο αυτό έχει δύο όψεις, την ερωτική ιστορία, αλλά κυρίως την ιστορία και την πολιτική κατάσταση, με αριστοτεχνικό τρόπο γραμμένα. Πολύ ισχυρή προσωπικότητα και ο ίδιος ο Pasternak.

Μια πολύ ωραία ιστορία, με τους έρωτες, με τα δράματα, κλασικό δείγμα ρωσικής λογοτεχνίας, στέκεται επάξια δίπλα στα μεγάλα έργα Tolstoy και Dostoyevsky. Το σημαντικότερο για μένα είναι ότι εξιστορεί ίσως τη χειρότερη περίοδο της Ρωσίας, για την οποία δεν γνωρίζουμε απολύτως τίποτα. Οι πιο μαύρες σελίδες της ιστορίας της Ρωσίας, γράφτηκαν με την κόκκινη επανάσταση. Ένας αιματοβαμμένος εμφύλιος, που κόστισε πάνω από 70 χρόνια άσχημης κατάστασης του λαού. Η επικράτηση του κόκκινου στρατού έφερε διώξεις στα γκουλάγκ, αναίτιες δολοφονίες, πείνα, έλλειψη τροφίμων (κάτι σαν τη βενεζουέλα σε πολύ μεγαλύτερες διαστάσεις), πυρπολήσεις ολόκληρων χωριών, εξαθλίωση του πληθυσμού, δήμευση περιουσιών, όσο για την οικονομία οι κρατικοποιήσεις και ο περιορισμός σε μηδενικό σημείο των εμπορικών συνα��λαγών, έφερε ως αποτέλεσμα την μαύρη αγορά.

Το δεύτερο σκέλος που θίγει ο συγγραφέας είναι οι πολιτικές μέθοδοι διώξεων των αντιφρονούντων του καθεστώτος, τις οποίες έζησε ο ίδιος και σχεδόν πλήρωσε με τη ζωή του. Το 1958 ο Pasternak έχοντας γράψει αυτό το αριστούργημα, κατάφερε να το εκδώσει στην Ιταλία, παρόλες τις πιέσεις του κόμματος στον εκδότη. Προκάλεσε το θαυμασμό όλου του κόσμου, αλλά και το μένος εναντίον του, του φασιστικού καθεστώτος. Δημεύτηκαν τα έσοδα από τα δικαιώματα του στο εξωτερικό, κλήθηκε πολλές φορές σε απολογία και εντέλει αυτός και η οικογένειά του τέθηκαν στο περιθώριο. Δύο χρόνια αργότερα πέθανε από καρκίνο. Τα επόμενα 30 χρόνια έγιναν τρομερές προσπάθειες για να ανοίξουν οι φάκελοι που αφορούσαν τη δραστηριότητά του ως μεγάλος κίνδυνος για το σοβιέτ. Τελικά εκδόθηκαν τα άπαντά του στην Γαλλία από τον εκδοτικό οίκο Galimard .

Η ζωή του Pasternak αποτελεί μοναδική περίπτωση αντίστασης στο σοβιετικό μόρφωμα. Ο θάνατος του αποτέλεσε την αρχή της αμφισβήτησης και τελικά της αποκαθήλωσης του καθεστώτος στα μάτια του κόσμου. Το ότι άνοιξαν πολλά από τα αρχεία του πάντως πριν την πτώση του κομμουνισμού σημαίνει πολλά για την λαϊκή αποδοχή που απέκτησε αυτός ο πολύ σημαντικός άνθρωπος, κάτι αντίστοιχο με τον Thomas Mann, τα βιβλία του οποίου δεν έκαψαν οι ναζί, αν και από τους μεγαλύτερους πολέμιους τους.

Ξαναγυρνώντας στο μυθιστόρημα, διαβάζεται πολύ ευχάριστα, η γραφή του Pasternak είναι πολύ ωραία, σχεδόν όσο απολαυστική αυτή του Dostoyevsky. Αυτό που μου έκανε θετική εντύπωση είναι οι φιλοσοφικές ενέσεις στους διαλόγους των πρωταγωνιστών που μου θύμισαν τους πλατωνικούς. Ένα βιβλίο ζωής για τον ίδιο, ένα βιβλίο που τα έχει όλα.
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