In spite of the things I dislike about Russian novels: 1) Too many long names - and then the different versions of those names - sometimes as many as three! 2) Too much about politics (yes, I know, I asked for it). 3) Too much philosophy. And 4) No sense of humour whatsoever - in spite of all the things I didn't like about Dr. Zhivago, I cannot deny that it was compelling, and was interspersed with some incredibly beautiful writing (in between all that other stuff I didn't like). Pasternak is exquisitely skillful at setting a scene and a mood. An example:
"Outside it was snowing. The wind swept the snow aside, ever faster and thicker,as if it were trying to catch up with something, and Yurii Andreievich stared ahead of him out of the window, as if he were not looking at the snow but were still reading Tonia's letter and as if what flickered past him were not small dry snow crystals but the spaces between the small black letters, white, white, endless, endless."
Or this wonderful statement:
"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."
I didn't like the main character, Yuri, and yet I read the book - my only explanation - Pasternak is a very skilled writer.