First time I read it at school, when I was sixteen, and I had a vague memory of something slow, sad, and calm – with the wonderful poems at the end. IFirst time I read it at school, when I was sixteen, and I had a vague memory of something slow, sad, and calm – with the wonderful poems at the end. I remembered this poems much better than the actual book, and recently, having found the book in the library (in Russian) I grabbed and started reading.
It is funny how me reading habits change since my fandom involvement – and reading reviews of books, TV shows, movies, and writing the reviews myself. I notice so many things, and I get annoyed by many more things – or may be I can pinpoint what I am being annoyed with.
So, Doctor Zhivago: I was annoyed with many things: I was annoyed with the wandering point of view, with constant telling instead of showing, with the fact that many characters, supposedly important, seemed shadows, not people (what kind of person was Tonya? What was about Yuri’s uncle, Nikolai Nikolaevich? There was supposedly deep friendship between Yuri, Michael Gordon and Tonya – and I couldn’t see it and so on.) All the Fresh Deep Thoughts bored me to death, what was the turning point of Yuri’s attitude towards the revolution? Now he likes it, now he doesn’t.
In the second part of the book people annoyed me - mostly Zhivago and Lara- with their actions, lack of actions, and big pronouncements…
And yet I liked the book – again, and I liked it a lot. Why is that? I can be annoyed with this and that – and then, the sudden turn of phrase, the words are put together so right that everything comes alive and I believe in every word, and forgive all the annoyances I was harboring.
I love all the long descriptions – cities big and small, random people caught into the story, storms, nights, springs, wolves and the rowan-tree – all this is so bright and clear, and alive, so crispy-cold and sweet as the water from the well, so loving and magnificent that I forget the supposedly main characters for it.
Somewhere in the middle it came to me – the realization - that this book is not a novel.
Not a novel at all: it is a song - slow, sad, and calm, even if events it is describing are as far from calm as possible.
And the figure of the Author – behind the text, but ever so often intruding in the story with his notes, explanations, references of the future events and pronounced judgments suddenly is looking like a half-mythological Storyteller /Bard/ Boyan.
Another thing I noticed – how I cannot reconcile the fictional Moscow there (and in other books) with Moscow I know – I know all the places where the action goes on, but I cannot imagine the characters on the streets I walked. Well, with all these years the streets are different indeed, but still, the existence of several unconnected Moscows in my head is confounding.
Oh, and the poems – as wonderful as ever. I manage to restrain myself from reading them before finishing the previous chapters, and I can see how beautifully done this structure is – the characters are gone, but they continue in the poetry now and forever. And all the talk about how talented Zhivago is stopped being talk, and the previous chapter suddenly got a new colour as I cast Zhivago as hamlet and Gordon and Dudorov as Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.
One more thing – as much as I like the poems it is mind-boggling to figure out who wrote them? Zhivago? Pasternak writing as if he were Zhivago? Pasternak as himself? Poetry seems so personal, so the mimicry I find impossible, and the idea of writing perfectly good poems written by the fictional character is unsettling. On the other hand, I’ve never tried it – may be it is not?...more