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Doctor Zhivago

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  73,793 ratings  ·  2,714 reviews
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.
Paperback, 558 pages
Published March 18th 1997 by Pantheon (first published November 1957)
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Maaike Rotteveel-Wagenaar Tania is the daughter of Joeri and Lara.... Lara had to leave Tania behind, Joeri never knew they had a daughter. So Lara was pregnant when she left…moreTania is the daughter of Joeri and Lara.... Lara had to leave Tania behind, Joeri never knew they had a daughter. So Lara was pregnant when she left him.... thought it was so tragical.(less)
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4.03  · 
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 ·  73,793 ratings  ·  2,714 reviews

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Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, faves
When I read this in my early twenties it went straight into my top ten favourite novels. All the ravishing set pieces of snow, the high adventure of the long train journeys through spectacular landscapes and Yuri and Lara as the romantically bound orphans of the storm was irresistible to my romantic young imagination. On top of that, as you’d expect from a poet, the novel is alive with memorable piercing images. This was my third time of reading it. I still loved it but it would no longer make m ...more
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
I sometimes stroke my copy of Doctor Zhivago gently.

I doubt I will find time to reread it soon, but it is one of those books I like to think I will read again, some day, even though it is written into my heart already, and has stayed there firmly ever since it first entered it decades ago. Is it better than any other of the "masterpieces of world literature"? Probably not. But it is something deeply, deeply personal. Something that affects the human core of the reader beyond any compassion for
Dana Ilie
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a timeless masterpiece. While many readers are going to love this book, I think others will find themselves bogged down by its many details. Certainly those readers who enjoy primarily plot driven novels are going to be frustrated by the dreamy Doctor Zhivago.
Steven Godin
Before getting to indulge in this Russian epic, I had to decide what translation to go for. For me, this was a big deal, whether to choose the more reader friendly version, or, a newer translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky that sticks closer to Pasternak's original difficult text. I went for the latter simply because if this is how Pasternak wrote it, then I wanted to read it in the purest form. Even if it meant not sitting in the comfort zone for much of the time. Both Pevear an ...more
Barry Pierce
There is one edition of Doctor Zhivago whose cover boasts that it is 'one of the greatest love stories ever told'. In fact, that one tagline is what almost put me off reading this epic novel from Russian master-poet Boris Pasternak. This is a hefty book. I didn't want to dedicate all my time to a soppy love story. Thankfully, calling Doctor Zhivago a 'love story' is like saying Crime and Punishment is about the perils of being a pawnbroker.

Doctor Zhivago is a vast novel. Like most great Russian
Ahmad Sharabiani
486. Доктор Живаго = Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
Doctor Zhivago is a novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957 in Italy. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. The plot of Doctor Zhivago is long and intricate. It can be difficult to follow for two main reasons: first, Pasternak employs many characters, who interact with each other throughout the book in unpredictable ways, a
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Algernon (Darth Anyan) by: David Lean
Shelves: 2015

It snowed, it snowed over all the world
From end to end.
A candle burned on the table,
A candle burned.

I have spent three hours just writing down my bookmarks in the text, and in the end I realised that all I needed was this little stanza from one of the Zhivago’s poems included at the end of the novel. We need art to illuminate a bleak existence, to comfort us in the cold, lonely hours when sleep refuses to come and the abyss is gazing back at us. Pasternak was such a bright candle in my life, a
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
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
”The forest does not change its place, we cannot lie in wait for it and catch it in the act of change. Whenever we look at it, it seems to be motionless. And such also is the immobility to our eyes of the eternally growing, ceaselessly changing history, the life of society moving invisibly in its incessant transformations."

Doctor Zhivago is about nothing, if not about change, transformation, upheaval and survival. Set against the background of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Doctor Zhi
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 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 ind
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stela-eða-láni
Tightly closing eyelids.
Heights; and cloudy spheres.
Rivers. Waters. Boulders.
Centuries and years.

[From "Fairy Tale" in Doctor Zhivago, poem quoted in full below]

This sweeping romantic epic is set in Russia mostly during and after the 1917 (October) Revolution. The young physician/poet Yurii Zhivago works as an army doctor and is wounded during WWI. He meets Lara Antipova, who nurses him to health, and falls hopelessly in love. Lara will be his great love and mistress through the tumult and uphea
Alice Poon

Before finally reading this novel, I had watched the 1965 movie adaptation starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie many many times. By way of simple comparison, the movie captured very well the spontaneous passion of a brief love affair between physician/poet Yuri and his lover Lara, whereas the book dealt in much greater depth the tumultuous factional warfare incidents between the First Russian Revolution (1905) and the Russian Civil War (1917 – 1922), and their deleterious impact on everyday R
I have researched Russian history, especially the Russian Revolution. Russia deserved a revolution. The serfs were mistreated slaves. I have read many biographies of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas and Alexandra. The Russian people had a love/hate relationship with the tzars. And yet they traded those oppressors for communist oppressors. Stalin was much worse than any Tzar.
This story takes place during the revolution when everything was completely turned upside down. Yuri and L
I came to this book knowing the story a little bit: the 1965 movie adaptation is one of my mother’s favorite films, and I remember being fascinated by the image of Yuri and Lara taking shelter in Varykino, in the abandoned house filled with snow and icicles (I always thought this is what the apocalypse will look like in Canada). I also knew the novel would be much more intricate and tough to follow than the movie had been, with that pesky habit Russians have of using nicknames and patronymics. B ...more
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely difficult book to review. It is unlike anything I have ever read. First, it was written in Russian, and, although the translation was fine, you can tell that often you are missing the full meaning. Second, did you know that the average person in Russia during the early to mid-1900s went by a minimum of five names? This creates MUCH confusion for the reader. And, even though this story revolves around the Russian Revolution, it does not explain the very complicated Revolution ...more
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
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 books 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 lite ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 to 2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
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

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
Mark André
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-iv
An entertaining pager turner. Good melodrama. Good dialogue: especial between Yurii and Lara. Way too many similes. The Conclusion and Epilogue drag and seem at bit superfluous. Three and half stars. Would like to see the movie.
Luís C.
A novel such as this one places me in front of the mirror of my own literary ambition and by looking at me with sincerity and without concession, I can only admit that I am still very far from possessing that maturity of mind that would really criticize it. With humility, I recognize that this novel, written by a Nobel laureate of literature, is a superb novel, a great novel. I only regret that I do not yet have the capacity to appreciate it entirely as such.

The film adaptation of David Lean has
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history's organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshipped for d ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
What this book seems to lack is a good editor. Given the circumstances in which it was published, that is not surprising. It was published in translation rather than Russian language and the author was not available to discuss any edits/changes with. Not that it is a bad book at all.

Writing is awesome frequently (though not frequently enough) especially the poems in the end but it has a bunch of issues - some boring parts, repetitiveness, annoyingly large number of coincidences (like in Dickens
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely went into this book with all the wrong expectations. I haven't seen the film, but what I've heard made me believe I'll be diving into a timeless romance with a whole lot of Russian history in the background.

Yuri and Lara's story, however, is 25% of the book at most, and in fact Pasternak uses this novel to ponder history, communism, philosophy and to offer his views and opinions, and a healthy dose of social commentary. I will definitely re-read this book at some point with the righ
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 Yuri. Awful, just awful.

Buddy-slog with Jemidar; couldn't have done it without you!
This is a reread for me. Will I still think it worth five stars?


On completion after the second reading:

I ended up really liking some aspects of the book, but not all. This book makes you feel history and what it is to be human. It isn't so much a history book as a way of living through / experiencing life in Russia in the first half of the 20th Century in Moscow and in the Urals. What it was like to live through the Revolution and the subsequent civil war are no
classic reverie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
At the time of writing Pasternak was living in the artists and writers colony just outside Moscow with his wife. He'd visit his mistress from time to time. She had been installed a short distance away on the far side of a small bridge over a stream. The experience of walking down to spend time with her and then back to his wife was reimagined in to Zhivago travelling between his wife and Lara when they are all in Varykino.

If you come to the book from the film - shot slightly bizarrely in Spain w
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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 University of Moscow. Un ...more
“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.” 546 likes
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