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Doctor Zhivago

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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  49,429 ratings  ·  1,431 reviews
First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this back ...more
Paperback, 675 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1957)
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Amanda Absolutely not!
The preface in the Pantheon edition actually addresses that question as well as some related ones briefly. Worth checking out if…more
Absolutely not!
The preface in the Pantheon edition actually addresses that question as well as some related ones briefly. Worth checking out if you're interested in some background and general scoop on Pasternak and the history of Doctor Zhivago.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nataliya
There was no way I could ever escape reading Doctor Zhivago. After all, I'm a proud daughter of a literature teacher; this book earned the Nobel Prize for Boris Pasternak; and it has been staring at me from the top of my to-read pile for years with quiet accusation.

And so, reader, I finally read it.

Doctor Zhivago is an interesting novel. It is very character-centered but is absolutely *not* character-driven. It is an epochal novel focused on the particularly turbulent, violent and uncertain but
...more
Newengland
You'd think, having Julie Christie as a mistress and Geraldine Chaplin as a wife, that you couldn't do much better than that in life. Alas, you can, because if it's that good and it's all taken away and your net time with each amounts to squatski (Russian for "squat"), in the scheme of your life, maybe life's a bitch after all.

Dr. Zhivago brings us another Russian opus dealing with man as pawn against the great playing board of history. You can see why the Soviets banned the book, too, as its vi
...more
Kinga
This is going to be a difficult review to write as I have developed a real love-hate relationship with this book. It is an epic story about a man, who is supposed to be this tragic hero separated from the women he loved by the cruel times of revolution and civil war. If you ask me, he was just a … (fill in with your favourite word for describing a man with commitment and fidelity issues). I guess we can interpret the whole storyline as a metaphor of that period of Russian history, in which case ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 02, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 to 2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
AUGUST 2 REVIEW:
After finishing the book last night, I immediately wrote my review. I always do that because I right away start reading the next book. Also, writing what I learned from the book and what I felt while reading it are easier if the story is still fresh in my mind.

However, for almost the whole day, I thought that I missed the whole point of the story. My August 1 Review below definitely was too weak for a beautifully told forbidden love story of Yuri and Lara.

While driving from the
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Dusty
As far as I know, Doctor Zhivago appeals for three reasons. First, it is an epic by and about a man caught in the thick of the tumultuous period of Russian enlightenment and revolution. Second, like many epics, it follows the romance between a man and a woman (or in this book´s case, three women) whose love is made impossible by the political circumstances in which they live. Third, and lastly, it was bravely published in the 1950s, censored immediately by the Soviets but heralded by non-Red lit ...more
El


As I've already stated, this book has been on my bookshelf since I was about thirteen when my mother gave me a copy for Christmas one year. She talked to me about the story, about the movie and her adoration of Omar Sharif because of said movie. And because I was a punk kid I never sat down to read it. (Correction: I sat down a couple times to read it over the years but never managed to make it past a page or two because I evidently had more important things going on in my life.)

So now, at thirt
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Elena
A celebration of poiesis as a path to wisdom that takes one to a primal place, the kind of inner place that is in danger of being paved over by modernity in general and by the grand efforts at systematization that characterize the last century in particular. It is a book of massive ethical import indeed, a desperate attempt to assert the irreducibility of humanity against the countless efforts of the last century to reduce mankind to some abstract specter, whether through the agency of capitalis ...more
Patrizia O
Credo che non ti amerei tanto se in te non ci fosse nulla da lamentare, nulla da rimpiangere. Io non amo la gente perfetta, quelli che non sono mai caduti, non hanno inciampato. La loro è una virtù spenta, di poco valore. A loro non si è svelata la bellezza della vita.


Ho conosciuto Jurij Andrèeviĉ Zivago e Larisa Fëdorovna Guichard diversi anni fa attraverso i volti affascinanti di Omar Sharif e Julie Christie, protagonisti di un film che vinse cinque Golden Globe e cinque Oscar. Non ricord
...more
mai ahmd
حين تقرأ رواية تصل صفحاتهاإلى 700 تتسائل إن كان الأمر يستحق هذا العناء لكن ما إن تنتهي حتى تحزن للفراق القادم
أحببت هذه الرواية كثيرا ...على الرغم من أني قضيت وقتا طويلا بها بل إنني تركتها لفترة من الوقت ، عندما عدتُ لها عدت بنهم شديد
الرواية نموذج مثالي لما قد تصنعه الحروب والثورات من شتات للأسر الدمار والخراب ولهؤلاء الذين لاعلاقة لهم بالسياسة الناس التي تعيش حياتها ببساطة شديدة ولكنهم يدفعون الثمن
جميل ذلك التشابك العجيب الذي قدمه باسترناك بين الشخصيات وكيف ممكن لشخص قد يبدو بلا قيمة يصنع فار
...more
Griffin Betz
Nov 07, 2009 Griffin Betz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: patient readers who enjoy rich settings as much as (or more than) tight narratives.
Shelves: read-fiction
My first reading of Dr. Zhivago was in high school. At 15, the book was a chore. Impenetrable and numerous Russian names (often for the same character) and endless description of the Russian landscape left me exhausted and unimpressed. After re-reading and enjoying other high school assignments, I came across Dr. Zhivago on my bookshelf and wondered if I would find more appreciation for Mr. Pasternak's novel ten years later.

Yes, I did. And no, I didn't.

With ten more years of life, a wife and a j
...more
Anna
This book sapped all my energy, it was deathly dull. I thought about writing a review, but have already wasted far too long on the mind-numbing Dr Z. Awful, just awful.

Buddy-slog with Jemidar. We don't 'arf pick 'em!
Pavel
"The time is out of joint"

In the mid 90s I was surfing through radio chanells and stumbled across techno music station and 2 Djs were talking. Their idea was that Pasternak somehow prevents their music to succeed, they were convincing their listeners to quit paying attention to Pasternak "and everything like that" and start to admire something more important, which of course was their techno music. Not that I'm going to lecture those people after all these years, especially since they won't ever
...more
Cheryl
A Russian song is like water in a mill pond. It seems stopped and unmoving. But in its depths it constantly flows...By all possible means, by repetitions, by parallelisms, it holds back the course of the graudally developing content...Restraining itself, mastering itself, an anguished force...it is a mad attempt to stop time with words.


Here, Pasternak's character was describing a song, but I do believe Pasternak was defining his novel. Or maybe I just want to believe it, for this book is inde
...more
Mike Green
Not long after I began reading this book I became aware that I was truly reading a masterpiece. Pasternak's words are some of the most beautiful that I've ever read in my life. His descriptions jump from the page and his similes are the best I've ever seen. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to read such a masterwork of high art.
Carla
As primeiras cento e tal páginas do livro prenderam-me, situaram-me, encantaram-me.

Depois, e apesar da escrita com lampejos poéticos belíssimos, a história começa a “desfigurar-se”, mais concretamente a história das personagens que seguíamos com interesse, para dar lugar à História maior da Rússia. Os traços caracterizadores das personagens permanecem incompletos para dar lugar às pinceladas bruscas que preenchem a tela da identidade russa (política, social, artística, natural) que emerge em tod
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Jemidar

This book was so not what I expected and therefore it has been very hard for me to rate.

With "one of the greatest love stories ever told" emblazoned on the front cover of my paperback copy and vague memories of the Omar Sharif/Julie Christie movie in mind, I was expecting a grand passionate epic set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution but much to my dismay I soon found out that it had more in common with Tolstoy's repressed and depressing tales of suffering where the protagonists sit
...more
Amy
Jan 11, 2008 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Amy by: I knew on my own I had to read it
You can not miss this book! If you get the chance, you MUST read it.

Not only because it's a great historical and literary addition to one's memory bank, but also for what it (and all Russian novels, by the way) teaches you about human nature.

Antonia is Dr. Yuri Zhivago's wife, his partner and clearly his biggest fan. Lara is Zhivago's mistress--sort of by accident. She's there for him when Antonia isn't or cannot be, like when Zhivago gets deathly ill miles from home. She takes care of him.

This
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Lyn
The 1965 David Lean film with the same title is one of my all time favorite movies and so it was an inevitability that I would one day, finally, read Boris Pasternak’s novel masterpiece.

description

Like James Dickey and Robert Penn Warren, this novel written by a poet leaves the reader with an idea of lyric quality. Nowhere is his identification as a poet more realized than at the end, as the books finishes with a section of poetry, though there are passages throughout the book that blend seamlessly into a
...more
andrea Newberry
Oct 16, 2007 andrea Newberry rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who doesn't mind slogging through the confusion of Russian Names
An epic tragic tale spanning the tumultuous life of a poetic dissenter during the Russian Revolution and early era of communism. The story moves along disjointedly depicting moments in Zhivago’s life beginning with the funeral of his mother at age 4 to his growing up on Moscow among relatives while going to school, his family life with his wife/companion from childhood, his involuntary experiences in WWI and the revolution, and the timeless tale of his love affair with Lara, the woman he looks u ...more
Catherine
Can't find the ancient edition I have in the list, so have picked this one instead.

I was disappointed in this: not because of the film - I remember little of that except for a few scenes with plot and dialogue missing - but because it seemed to fall between the broad historical novel and the romance without being either thoroughly.

As with War and Peace, I learnt some Russian history from it, but there was more underlying assumption that one already knew the history affecting the lives of the ch
...more
Alex
"The calamity of mediocre taste is worse than the calamity of tastelessness."
(p. 568)

I don't think I can really judge this book properly: it's a big, slow, quiet book, and I wasn't in the right place for that. I read it during a time when my life was moving very quickly. (And I didn't have as much time for reading as I've been used to, so this took way longer than I was mentally prepared for.) So your mileage may vary. The lesson is, read the book your life has room for. Lots of time on your han
...more
TarasProkopyuk
Feb 27, 2014 TarasProkopyuk rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to TarasProkopyuk by: nat
Shelves: fiction
Эта книга прекрасна. И прекрасна многим. Ведь не зря она попала под советскую цензуру и её автор стал лауреатом Нобелевской премии.

Автор наилучшим образом показал судьбы людей попавшим в жернова революции и нового режима. В книге хорошо изображено истинный облик людей в революционной среде, их мораль, нравственность и поступки.

Отдельного внимания стоит сам сюжет данного романа. Несмотря на его, возможно излишнюю драматичность событий, он стоит самой высокой оценки.

Борис Пастернак был настоящим б
...more
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
Jul 28, 2014 Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* marked it as helpful-review-pass-on-this-one  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Anna who nearly died of boredom, I shall pass on this one.
Leonard
Russian Revolution
Saint Petersburg During the Russian Revolution

As the Napoleonic War had dislodged the Bolkonskys and Rostovs from their habitual sorties in War and Peace, so in Dr. Zhivago the Russian Revolution uprooted the Zhivagos and Antipovs from their daily toils. Through the crisscrossing paths of Zhivago, Strelnikov, Lara, Komarovsky, Yevgraf, and dozens of other characters, Pasternak interwove the shattered lives along the hurricane’s trail and the opportunists who thrived upon revolutionary disillusio
...more
Sue
Set in in the years leading up to, during, and after the Russian revolution, Doctor Zhivago touches on multiple facets of the Russian people, land, history, religion, politics as seen through Zhivago's eyes (as well as those he encounters during his life).

It is a complex book, moving sometimes swiftly and sometimes very slowly from one character to another, from city to country, from one battlefield to another, from war to unsettled peace. The descriptions of the countryside are poetic and visua
...more
Charles
I read the original late 1950s translation twice out of duty, but since I love the translating team of Pevear and Volokhonsky I thought I'd give this a try and I am overjoyed I did. Now I begin to understand why Pasternak received the Nobel and why the Soviets wouldn't let him accept it. Revolution from the point of view of the people caught up in the rush of war, change, hope and disappointment is brought to life by this translation. For the first time I feel I know Yuri Zhivago and I understan ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
They say Boris Pasternak was a much better poet than a novelist and that it was chiefly because of his poetry that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and managed to have both a devoted wife and an equally-devoted mistress (who was his inspiration for the character Lara in this novel).

But I read a number of his poems (incorporated in this novel) and they suck. Maybe they are beautiful in their original Russian but I can only read them in English, so...

This novel didn't impress me either, and ma
...more
linhtalinhtinh
“I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?”
“I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?”

Người nào chơi với tôi lâu hẳn sẽ biết tôi rất sợ những thứ buồn. Phim buồn, truyện buồn, nhạc buồn. Chẳng lạ nếu bạn thấy tôi hay đọc truyện thiếu nhi và cổ tích.

Trớ trêu thay, cái đẹp thường buồn.

Ngay khi đọc những dòng giới thiệu tác phẩm, tôi đã tự nhủ, Ôi thôi, lại một tấn bi kịch rồi. Làm gì có lối thoát cho một vị gốc tư sản, có học, lãng mạn, nghệ sĩ, và nhân đạo, đã có gia đình, và tình yêu của anh ta với một người phụ nữ là
...more
S©aP
E' una questione di gusti. Ma anche di epoche. Di stili. Di universalità o meno del testo. Di ritmo. Non sono un fanatico della velocità, soprattutto nei romanzi. Non sempre, almeno. Mi piace la pagina meditata e da meditare. Tuttavia, nel caso di Zivago, non ostante ciò, in me ha prevalso la fatica sul gradimento. Terminare la lettura è stato un lavoro ostinato, che ha lasciato sentimenti contrastanti e un vago senso di liberazione.
Si tratta senza dubbio di un romanzo importante; articolato; d
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Chloe
I don't know why, but I always find it difficult to properly review a Russian novel. I find myself unable to decide upon whether to focus on the novel itself and the events therein or that novel's place within the bigger picture of Russian Literature. Normally I'd just take each book on a judge-as-you-go basis, but there's something intrinsic to Russian Lit that almost begs the reader to compare it to what has come before. It certainly doesn't help matters that most of these books refer to one a ...more
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Борис Пастернак
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 Universi
...more
More about Boris Pasternak...
Selected Poems The Poems of Doctor Zhivago Letters, Summer 1926 My Sister - Life The Last Summer

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“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.” 342 likes
“How wonderful to be alive, he thought. But why does it always hurt?” 242 likes
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