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New School Classics- 1900-1999 > Doctor Zhivago: Chapters 9-12 Spoilers

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message 1: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments Post comments for chapters 9-12 here.


message 2: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments Does anyone have thoughts on why Pasternack uses so many quotes and references to other Russian authors and books? (i.e. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, "The Possessed", "War and Peace", "Crime and Punishment", etc...) The novel seems filled with them. Ideas or thoughts?


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, one thought is that the Russians are very proud of their authors and they often reference each other. Another, is that he may be connecting himself to those great writers! And another thought is that he may be trying to take the readers to other points of reference to explain a certain idea or scene or situation (ie: maybe something in Chekov's writing will conjur up a parallel in the reader's mind to what Pasternak is talking about. Something that will give the reader a continuity of the Russian character and/or landscape)...


message 4: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments Very interesting....I am just glad that his references don't give away major plot twists in books that I have not read yet! I hate when authors do that!!


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, if Pasternac did that, it passed by me!! He may have for all I know! Yes, I agree, that can sometimes ruin the "mystery" of a story when something is given away too early.


Morgan (morganmn) I always wonder, with books like this, if it was decipherable to the general population at the time that it was written.


message 7: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments How is everyone else doing with this section? Are the brave book readers still pushing through??


Morgan (morganmn) Trisha wrote: "How is everyone else doing with this section? Are the brave book readers still pushing through??"
I still am, little by little. Hoping to finish 11 today. :)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I let it go. I'm glad I gave it go, though! I'm looking forward to the next selection!


Connor (connork) | 12 comments I'm trudging along. Wish I had seen the movie first. That's the first time I've ever said that about a classic book, but it's so hard to understand. Especially with those weird Russian names.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I made it through! I actually finished the book. One thought that hit me like a brick: The Nobel Prize for literature has nothing to do with a well written or well constructed book! I did enjoy many parts of the story though, and I think it is a worthwhile read.


message 12: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments Great job for finishing it! i am hoping to finish in the next day or so!


Connor (connork) | 12 comments I'm only half way through. ;( plugging away though.


message 14: by Dana (last edited Feb 23, 2011 01:57PM) (new)

Dana (erato) | 6 comments Connor wrote: "I'm trudging along. Wish I had seen the movie first. That's the first time I've ever said that about a classic book, but it's so hard to understand. Especially with those weird Russian names."

I just joined the group and picked up a copy at the library yesterday so I will have time to get 'on schedule' with you all. I'm glad you mentioned the difficulty with the names Connor. It is a help to me so I apppreciate it. I had this problem with a series of books I read in the past. They had large political and military aspects, so they were very character laden. Six novels at 700-800 pages each made for some elaborate family trees and dense political landscapes. (So large that the author includes a character index with each novel.)They were all French in nature, ugh! After stumbling through half of the second book, I had one of my daughter's friends, who was a French student, pronounce them all for me once so I could hear them in my mind correctly. I was able to fly through the books after that!

I have a Ukrainian friend at the local college who speaks Russian. I think I need to visit him tomorrow for a language lesson 'a la Dr. Zhivago'.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Dana! My advice to you (wish I would have done this early on) is to write down the names as you come across them in this book. Later you will stumble upon a diminutive form or two or three of each name, which you should add too. There are sometimes very long spaces between meeting up with certain characters again, and if you have a little chart, with maybe a detail or two about each character, I think it would help jog your memory (if you have a memory like mine that needs a little boost every now and then!) Best of luck to you!


Connor (connork) | 12 comments Christi wrote: "Hi Dana! My advice to you (wish I would have done this early on) is to write down the names as you come across them in this book. Later you will stumble upon a diminutive form or two or three of ea..."

Wish I had done that. Oh well. Maybe if I read something like The Brothers of Karamazov, then I'll do that. I don't feel like going through the book to find all the names right now though; I'm almost done! :)

And Dana, you should teach me Russian when your done learning. :D I doubt that's really possible through this site though.


message 17: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
I am through this section too. I am glad for the read, but this book is not what I expected. I guess I was ready for the illicit love affair between Lara & Yury. So far as I can tell, I am 3/4 the way through the book and this love affair has been given about 4 paragraphs and a couple of sentences. And Yury still really does love Lara.

Perhaps the love affair is really between the people and Russia. No matter how bad things get, the Russian people still love their homeland.

Can't wait to see what happens in the last quarter of the book.


message 18: by MK (last edited Feb 04, 2014 05:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Trisha wrote: "Does anyone have thoughts on why Pasternack uses so many quotes and references to other Russian authors and books? (i.e. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, "The Possessed", "War and Peace", "Crime and P..."

Yes, I think it's part of the way of Russian storytelling. But not just storytelling, more like philosophically debating, setting up points and counterpoint, etc. I think, but could be wrong, that this isn't unique to Paternak.

I ran across the perfect book, on Amazon earlier today. Probably this description explains better than I could, what I'm trying to say:

Beginning in the eighteenth century with the building of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists, and musicians grappled with the idea of Russia itself--its character, spiritual essence, and destiny. Skillfully interweaving the great works--by Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall--with folk embroidery, peasant songs, religious icons, and all the customs of daily life, Figes reveals the spirit of "Russianness" as rich and uplifting, complex and contradictory--and more lasting than any Russian ruler or state.

http://www.amazon.com/Natashas-Dance-...


It's from this book - Natasha's Dance A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes , Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes


message 19: by MK (last edited Feb 04, 2014 05:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Connor wrote: "I'm trudging along. Wish I had seen the movie first. That's the first time I've ever said that about a classic book, but it's so hard to understand. Especially with those weird Russian names."

Watching the movie first (actually, I watched two different movie adaptations, and all the interview included on the dvds :-p ... ) helped me SO much!


message 20: by MK (last edited Feb 04, 2014 05:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Kathy wrote: "I am through this section too. I am glad for the read, but this book is not what I expected. I guess I was ready for the illicit love affair between Lara & Yury. So far as I can tell, I am 3/4 the ..."

I saw a review on Amazon that talked about how this book was really a love letter to Russia, more than a love story about Yuri and Lara. Or something close to that. I'll see if I can find it..


Edit to add this amazing review. When I was reading it (after I'd already spent quite a bit of time in the story) I was just nodding my head the whole time. Saying, yes, yes, exactly! This book is really extraordinary, in my opinion. Anyway, here's the review:


Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "That one might read the book of fate December 23, 2010
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover

And see the revolution of the times
Make mountains level, and the continent,
Weary of solid firmness,--melt itself Into the sea! "
King Henry IV, Part 2, Act III. Scene I

Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago takes us back to a time when fate took Russia through a perfect storm of revolution, war, revolution, and civil war. This was a time that did not just level mountains and melt a continent but also melted and cruelly leveled the lives and fates of untold numbers who were caught in these turbulent waters. Josef Stalin is reported to have said that "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic." What Pasternak has done so masterfully in telling this story is to paint a picture on a huge canvas that stretches from Moscow to Siberia while at the same time telling an intimate story that allows the reader to maintain that feeling of tragedy.

I've had a copy of Dr. Zhivago sitting on my shelf for decades, one of the books I inherited from my father's collection. I never bothered to pick it up. I'd seen David Lean's classic film and wrongfully decided that there was no need to invest any time in reading an epic novel about the tragic romance of Yuri Andreevich Zhivago and Larissa Fyodorovna Antipova. When I saw that Pevear and Volokhonsky had done a new translation I decided to give Zhivago a shot. What a revelation. As good as the movie was it didn't begin to plumb the depths of the book. The movie focused, understandably enough, on the relationship between Yuri and Lara and it seemed that the Russian Revolution and Civil War was merely the back-story to the relationship. But in Pasternak's hands I think it was close to being the other way around. The first two-thirds of the book takes two separate lives that contain just a few incidental touch-points where those lives intersected.

The emotional heart of the story for me was elsewhere. It was a story of the dissolution of Russian life in the years between the 1905 Revolution and WWI where the decadence and debauchery of a life lived in fancy clothes and salons played out against the turmoil bubbling beneath the surface. It was a story of the disruption and destitution set in motion by WWI and the October revolution. It was a story of the story of hunger and desperation brought on by a vicious Civil War in which the phrase "man is wolf to man" comes to the fore and the fragile web that keeps a society civilized is swept away in a sea of inhumanity. It is into a world that has already been rent asunder that the relationship of Yuri and Lara comes into bloom. The story of Yuri and Lara almost seemed to me to be the back story, the context that illuminated the age of unreason that Pasternak wrote about.

One passage set this out for me in stark terms: "This was the sickness of the age, the revolutionary madness of the epoch. In thought everyone was different from his words and outward show. No one had a clear conscience. Each with good reason could feel himself guilty, a secret criminal, an unexposed deceiver." The passage concludes that people denounced themselves, "drawn on by a destructively morbid inclination, of their own free will, in a state of metaphysical trance and passion for self-condemnation that, once set loose, could not be stopped." This struck me immediately as Pasternak's version of Yeats' "Second Coming" where the centre cannot hold and where "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. It was one of the many touch-points in the book that were immensely moving to me.

The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko has said, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that a "translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful." My high-school level Russian does not permit me to speak to this translation's faithfulness but I can certainly attest to its beauty. Pasternak's prose, as rendered by the team of Pevear and Volokhonsky, flows beautifully. As I read through the book I did not feel I was reading a translation. Any time I read a piece in translation and feel compelled to underline or highlight particularly noteworthy passage I think of the translation as one that does justice to the book. Time after time I found myself highlighting passages that I wanted to remember. This strikes me as being my own testimony not just to the beauty of the translation but what also must be its faithfulness.

Dr. Zhivago is not, as I imagined, a eulogy for a pair of tragic Russian lovers but an elegy for an age in a specific time and place. It is a beautiful, moving story that was a pleasure to read.

L. Fleisig

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Zhivago-...



message 21: by MK (last edited Feb 04, 2014 05:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Right, so, finished Chapter 9. This was the chapter/part where Yuri and Lara reconnected in Yuriatin, you find out for sure who Strelnikov is, Yuri begins ... and ends ... affair with Lara (round 1, anyway), and then, as he is about to come clean to Tonia (maybe, he seems to be having second thoughts ;-) ), gets kidnapped by the Forest Brotherhood, on his way from Yuriatin to Varykino. Oh yes, and Tonia is pregnant. And Evgraf reappears, briefly.


message 22: by MK (last edited Feb 05, 2014 06:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments deleted user wrote: "Hi Dana! My advice to you (wish I would have done this early on) is to write down the names as you come across them in this book. Later you will stumble upon a diminutive form or two or three of ea..."

Totally agree with this, I have to say. I've been keeping a 'tickler file' of names, dates, events, places. I started partway in, to also keep track of all the cultural names (authors, poets, books, essays, etc). Wish I had from the beginning, but didn't think of it until well into the story.

Best of all would be if there was a companion book that had a glossary type index of people, places, dates, etc. I didn't come across one in my library search, but maybe someone else will come across a useful one.


message 23: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
Thanks MK for the review above.


message 24: by MK (last edited Feb 17, 2014 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments YW, Kathy. It was a pretty interesting one, I thought. Lots of info packed in it!

Anyway, I resumed reading. Just finished Chapter/Part 10. I took a break, for two reasons: one, b/c Pasternak introduced a whole slew of NEW characters in this chapter, with the Galuzins, their town's residents, and their family relations, and my brain revolted ;-), and two: I had a pile of library books coming due, so rather than renew all of those, I just renewed Zhivago, and spent a week and a half reading those other library books, while taking a break from Zhivago.

This chapter to me, was ramping up the Civil War aspect of the story. Primarily, but not wholly, from the Whites point of view. I didn't recall, as I was reading, who Comrade Lidochka was. As I made a 'tickler' file page for his two underground names, and his real name, and went to file it, I noticed that he was in fact, one of the three conscripts mentioned by name, from Yuri's train. The older gentleman, the cooperativist, Kostoied-Amursky.

Seeming to pull together the diverse threads in this chapter too, bringing back in Tiverzin, and Antipov's father, and Mikulitsyn's son, along with the conscript Kostoied. And also Galuzina knew of, by reputation, Yuri.

btw, Galuzina is HORRIBLE! Anti-semite, terrible stepmother, blahblahblah, not alot of good to say about her, characterwise, at least as introduced so far, in this chapter.


message 25: by MK (last edited Feb 24, 2014 01:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Just finished Chapters/Parts 11 & 12

These chapters continue to be about the Civil War, this time from primarily the Reds point of view, in Chapter/Part 11, and from utter disgust with all aspects and sides of it, in Chapter/Part 12, the way I saw it.

One of the endnotes of Part 12, in the Pevear & V translation just blew my mind. Recall the story of the man who was chopped up by the Whites, and sent crawling into the Reds winter encampment, with a message to terrify? And Pamphil Palykh, who chopped up his family, rather than risk letting them fall to the hands of the Whites for torture and punishment?

I thought those stories were horrible, and were meant to signify the depths of horror that the Civil War was, and had, on all parties, including Whites, Reds, and noncombatants. Well, turns out that Pasternak didn't invent these two stories :(. He based the stumped man, and Palykh, on "published accounts of partisan life during the war with Kolchak" (Endnote 7, Part 12, Pevear and Volokhonsky translation).

*blows out deep sigh*

Well, Yuri escapes. In my mind, I'm picturing the scenes in the movies, of tramping through the awful bitter winter, to Yuriatin.

These four chapters/parts were hard for me. There was almost nothing that wasn't awful, happening in these parts, about the Civil War. I am looking forward to the next sections! I know (or think I know ... ) from the movies, that the next sections will be about the love story between Yuri and Lara. I'm hoping no new characters will pop up. My 'tickler file' is HUGE. I don't want to add to it anymore ...

Also, my second translation has a hard due date, back to the library, of this Saturday. So, have to finish by then! Interlibrary loans can only be renewed once, and I already did that, so, time's up on Pevear & V translation, come this weekend.

I'm saving the poems for another time. I'm almost Doctor Zhivago'd out, at the current time ;-). I ordered two translations of the Zhivago poems, slim volumes. I also photocopied the translations from the Hayward edition, and the Pevear edition. All four are different! Some so different, as to almost seem like entirely different poems!!! Will take some puzzling to work my way through those, as reading poetry doesn't come easily to me...


message 26: by Bob, Short Story Classics (last edited Dec 31, 2017 10:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 5009 comments Mod
Our January 2018 Revisit the Shelf Reread is Doctor Zhivago, I was first read by the group in February 2011 and reread in January 2014.


Marilyn | 790 comments For anyone struggling with the book, check out message #20 above. I found it helpful.


Terris | 2732 comments I just finished and really liked it!


April Munday | 277 comments Terris wrote: "I just finished and really liked it!"
I finished it today and it's the best book I've read in a long time.


Terris | 2732 comments April wrote: "Terris wrote: "I just finished and really liked it!"
I finished it today and it's the best book I've read in a long time."


That's nice to hear!


Christine | 1217 comments I am through this section now. I have to admit that I felt dismayed with the introduction of more new characters, but I kept going. The depiction of the suffering endured by these people was very sobering.


message 32: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6554 comments I've just finished this section and have to say that I haven't enjoyed the past 3 chapters very much. Too much time spent in the woods, more new characters and lots of jumpy writing. Now it looks like Yury has escaped so I'm hoping the story moves on. The romance with Lara has also been frustrating me. We hear that Yury loves her and we had a brief mention of their love affair, but we're given so few details that I find it hard to care about their relationship. Unlike in the first few chapters, where I felt invested in all of the characters and enjoyed getting to know everyone. I'm hoping to get some love back for this book in these last few chapters.


Kathleen | 4084 comments I thought I'd never get to this thread! This was a difficult section. Glad to hear I'm not alone in not loving this part.

I'm frustrated with the love affair too. All the build up, and then it was handled as a few lines of afterthought.

This part was way too much unless you know the details of the history. I would love to come back to this book sometime when I know more, and can understand the different philosophies better.

Also, poetic language took me through some of the other more complex parts, but I didn't catch as much of that in this section.

Okay, onward. Like someone mentioned above, I'm now picturing the part in the movie now where Yury is trudging through the snow, seeing apparitions, yelling, "Tonia! ... Tonia!"


message 34: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6554 comments Sounds like we have the same opinion. Onto the next part...


Kathleen | 4084 comments I'm finding the next part much better, Pink! Hope you are too.


message 36: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6554 comments I was, but...I am kind of irritated by Yury and Lara's affair at the moment. I have no real depth of feeling for either of them, which perhaps is a fault with the stilted dialogue. I can't understand why either of them are actually having an affair, as they both declare their love for their prospective spouses. I feel nothing for their supposed love and frankly don't really care how it ends. A complete turnaround for me from the early chapters, though I do still have three chapters to go.


Kathleen | 4084 comments Hmmm. You're further than me, but you make a good point.

A little story: I first saw the film of this in high school with a boy friend that said "You're going to love this! It's so romantic!" After watching it I said "Really? He leaves his wife pregnant, picking potatoes, and goes off with Julie Christie. What's romantic about that?"

Then when I watched it later in life I enjoyed the "romance" of the tragedy more than I could in my teens. But I may end up back to where I started from after reading this!


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