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Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Doctor Zhivago (1957)

by Boris Pasternak

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7,545102457 (3.88)1 / 533
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Trails and tribulations of Yuri Zhivago, romantic and tragic, very hard to follow in places. ( )
  kale.dyer | Mar 11, 2017 |
“I don't think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I don't like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn't revealed its beauty to them.”

The novel tells the story of Yury Zhivago, a man torn between his love for two women living through tumultuous upheavals of twentieth century Russia. Yury is the direct descendant of the wealthy Zhivago family but all the family wealth has been squandered by his feckless father. When his mother dies whilst he is still a young boy he is raised by his uncle. Later he studies medicine at a university in Moscow where he meets and marries Tonya by whom he has a son, Sasha.

After university Yury becomes a medical officer in the army and whilst in this capacity he meets Lara who is married to Pasha, a missing soldier whom she has come to find him leaving their daughter, Katya in the Urals. Yury has actually met Lara in passing twice before without ever really getting to know her. Yury is captivated by Lara, but he returns to his wife and son in Moscow.

However in Moscow the family struggle to find food and firewood so they decide to move east to the Urals to try an avoid the hardship. The journey is long and difficult, but on arrival they find plenty of food and wood. As life becomes easier for the family Yury takes to going to the nearest city, Yuryatin, to use the library. There, he meets Lara once more and they begin an affair. However, on his way home one day, he is captured by the partisan army, and forced to join them as a medical officer.

Yury is forced to remain with this force during the war between the Tsarist Whites and the Communist Reds. After several failed escape bids he finally succeeds and returns to Yuryatin and Lara. In the meantime Tonya and his family have been summoned back to Moscow before being exiled to Paris whilst Lara's husband, Pasha, is now wanted. After several months living together they learn that they are in danger of being imprisoned and Yury tricks Lara into taking her daughter even further east in the hope that they at least will escape persecution whilst he remains behind. Before long however, Yury returns to Moscow to find work.

In Moscow he begins living with Marina, the daughter of a family friend, and they have two children before he deserts them too. One day on his way to work he dies of a heart attack. Lara coincidentally has returned to Moscow shortly after Yury's death and attends his funeral and we get to hear some of what has happened to her and her daughter in the intervening years.

Now firstly I ought to admit that I have never seen the movie, basically because I've not really fancied it especially as I believe that it's in excess of three hours long, therefore I didn't really know what to expect other than what the blurb on the book says, "One of the greatest love stories ever told". However, it didn't really hit my expectations. I found it hard to take to Yury. Now whilst he appears to love both Tanya and Lara passionately he was also somewhat prone to abandoning them just as he also does later on to Marina. Also he seems somewhat vain somehow feeling himself superior to those around him or perhaps instead he prefers to surround himself with people inferior to him. On top of this is the usual fact that like most Russian novels this one is heavy in characters sometimes making it hard to keep track of who is whom and where they fit in the overall story. Now whilst I don't doubt that it deserves to be considered a classic it failed to really grip me and I found it a bit of a slog. As such I only found it OK. Personally I prefer Mikhail Sholokhov. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Feb 23, 2017 |
Wow, wow, wow! l was really bowled over by Doctor Zhivago--such a heartbreaking, beautiful, provocative, funny, tragic novel. I had a hard time with the first ninety pages or so. Pasternak narrates the story in brief fragments, jumping from character to character rather than focusing on one narrative thread, and the Russian names are confusing when you're not used to them. But once I got my sea-legs under me, so to speak, I was totally engrossed.

Yuri Andreevich (the title character) is a doctor and poet caught up in the sweeping historical forces of the Russian revolution. He is initially sympathetic to the Bolshevik cause, but after years of civil war tear him from his family and he encounters deprivation and violence, he renounces anyone who bases their actions on abstract political ideologies rather than the imperative of loving the people immediately around us. Zhivago's love affair with Lara is among the great romances of modern literature, I think, and I shed some tears during the long final chapter detailing his physical and mental deterioration.

I loved, loved, loved this book. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
A bit of a project, but really good. ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
This was a very hard book to rate. At times I was thoroughly enthralled by Pasternak's wandering thoughts and at other times I felt like I was listening to my Great Aunt Lilly [93'ish] talk about whatever subject came into her head.

The book jumped quite a bit, quite abruptly. Kind of felt like I was on a coal cart and never knew when the cart would jump the tracks to another completely new track.

But this was a lush story. The hope, the despair, the national psyche, how everyone was effected by their emotions was as much a part of the story as the actual plot.

Characters weren't ones that you'd want to hang out with. Everyone was a revolutionary at the beginning, until they realized just want the Communists actually were. And the characters' dream of a Soviet Utopia died in fire, famine and horror.

Zhivago himself was a sad, pathetic character and at the same time I commiserated with him and hated him. He was crushed by the reality of communism, he went into and out of relationships like they had no meaning [3 wives? and 2 of them he created families with? Only to abandon them?]. Let's just say I wasn't sad at the ending of Zhivago's part of the story. In many ways it was better than he, Zhivago, deserved.

The ending to the book itself was so long and drawn out that I was ready for it to be done with after about 2 pages of the Continuation" and "Epilogue".

It definitely helped that I've read books by [a:Ivan Goncharov|5326370|Ivan Goncharov|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1334441735p2/5326370.jpg], [a:Leo Tolstoy|128382|Leo Tolstoy|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1342945438p2/128382.jpg] and [a:Fyodor Dostoyevsky|3137322|Fyodor Dostoyevsky|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1328375676p2/3137322.jpg] before this." ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (116 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pasternak, Borisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guerney, Bernard GuilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harari, ManyaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayward, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konkka, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prins, AaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reschke, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scheepmaker, NicoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zveteremich, PietroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
On they went, singing "Rest Eternal," and whenever they stopped, their feet, the horses, and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing.
The fear known as spymania had reduced all speech to a single formal, predictable patter. The display of good intentions in discourse was not conductive to conversation.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book. DO NOT combine with film.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679774386, Paperback)

n celebration of the 40th anniversary of its original publication, here is the only paperback edition now available of the classic story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Yuri Zhivago, doctor and poet, lives and loves during the first three decades of 20th-century Russia.

» see all 13 descriptions

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