Sylvester's Reviews > Dr. Zhivago

Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
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's review
Dec 22, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: classic

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.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Bettie☯ I really like the story but I am known as a sucker for perma-frost literature.

Happy Holidays Esther

Sylvester I noticed that you just read "Dead Souls" (Gogol) - now that was a Russian novel I really enjoyed - I thought "Wow, they do have a sense of humor after all!" I'm actually hoping to get into a collection of Chekov's writing soon, too. He's a master for sure. Anyway...I hope your holidays are cozy and full of the rustle of turning pages!


Chekov is made of sterner stuff, he says things like 'if you are afraid of being lonely, don't get married' but I do so enjoy his plays

As for Gogol - have you read the nose or his Christmas Eve - they are free over at Project Gutenberg.

Sylvester I read "The Nose" in university years ago, but can't remember a thing about it - thanks for the suggestion, and seeing that it's Christmas Eve...! Ta!

message 5: by Jwjoslin (new)

Jwjoslin No sense of humor? Despite his reputation for being dark and depressing, Dostoevsky can be really funny at times. The Brothers Karamazov has plenty of funny moments, and so do most of his other major books such as Notes from Underground and The Idiot (though Crime and Punishment is lighter on the comic elements).

Dr.Uid I am not sure about the quality of translations, as I am a native speaker and read it in Russian, but maybe you could try Teffi short stories. She is very funny, bright, witty and her books leave such a positive "aftertaste" (unlike a lot of depressive Russian classics :) ).

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