Catching up on Classics (and lots more!) discussion

Doctor Zhivago
This topic is about Doctor Zhivago
126 views
New School Classics- 1900-1999 > Doctor Zhivago: Chapters 5-8 Spoilers

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments Post comments for chapters 5-8 here!


Morgan (morganmn) This second section was much easier to follow. The plot doesn't jump around so much, and follows a much smaller group of characters. Additionally, nature becomes almost a character here with its own personality. With the spring thaw comes hope. The details of their surroundings lend a more poetic feeling to the writing and made it more pleasant for me to read.


message 3: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments I still find the dialogue to be a little confusing as I am not always sure who is speaking and who they are speaking to. I do agree that nature takes on a large role in this section, especially the winter snow. I can't imagine how difficult winter must have been at that point; no heat, no food, shooting in the streets. I guess I take for granted my thermostat, stove, and local super walmart!

It also must have been a very frightening period with all of the scattered wars and shootings. Pasternack describes the characters inability to even go outside to barter for food or to try and steal some sort of firewood for fear of the shooting in the streets. I also don't think that I would have left the safety of the train, as Zhivago does. When he is taken prisoner, he could have easily been shot on sight by some trigger-happy solider, or been sentanced to execution by the commisar, simply because they thought that he was someone else, and then what would have happened to his wife and child?

It seems like the whole country of Russia is in such a state of dissary and conflict, that it must have been a very stressful, frightening, and dangerous place to live at that time.

But I am still waiting on the love story....


message 4: by Katy, New School Classics (last edited Jan 08, 2014 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9694 comments Mod
Okay, the letter that Yury receives from Tonya at the beginning of chapter five. I can not figure out why she wrote for him to go with another woman. Weird, foreshadowing perhaps?


message 5: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9694 comments Mod
I thought The Journey was an interesting chapter. Hardship, war, and the not-knowing what will happen. It is amazing that just taking off with no real idea of what you will find at the end of the journey shows just how hopeless things seemed in Moscow.


message 6: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Kathy wrote: "Okay, the letter that Yury receives from Tonya at the beginning of chapter five. I can not figure out why she wrote for him to go with another woman. Weird, foreshadowing perhaps?"

I just finished Chapter 5. In that same chapter, Mademoiselle Fleury is certain that Lara and Yuri love each other, and Yuri, much later in the chapter, says to himself that he is trying not to love Larissa (his musings about the old world, and the new, on the trackback to Moscow), and then, too, when Yuri is specifying to Lara, when she is ironing, she asks him to stop, and says she feared this from him. I think from this chapter, you're supposed to understand that love is blooming between Yuri and Lara, and others can see it, nven if they most times they deny it.

It certainly seemed a melodramatic letter, but I thought we were supposed to understand that the whole of Yuri' s correspondence with her made Tonya also see what Mmse Fleury saw. Many times, leaps forward in the personal stories aspect of the no les were sudden; I thought this letter was one of those times.


message 7: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Kathy wrote: "I thought The Journey was an interesting chapter. Hardship, war, and the not-knowing what will happen. It is amazing that just taking off with no real idea of what you will find at the end of the j..."

Which chapter is that? Is it chapter 7? I don't have a chapter titled "The Journey", in either of my editions.

But the Hayward edition I have has "Train to the Urals" as Chapter 7, and the Pevear edition I have, has "On The Way" as the title for Part 7, so I think your "The Journey" corresponds to Chapter/Part 7?


message 8: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments I've finished 6-7-8.

In Hayward, Book Two started with Chapter 5; but in Pevear, Book Two started after Part 7. I guess I can see it splitting either way. At the beginning of Chapter/Part 7, there was a comment, while the Zhivagos were still on the train, at the station Razvilie (where Yuri had met Strelnikov in the previous chapter/part), that they felt the connection to Moscow had broken that morning, that while traveling, they still felt connected to Moscow, but on that morning, it felt like a new time was beginning, with new people, routines, traditions, that sort of thing.

These chapters, to me, all seemed to be about the politics, rather than the personal stories. Serving as a backdrop to discuss the aftermath of the second revolution, the effect on the population with regard to conscription and shortages, the dissolution of the constituent assembly (Mikulitsyn's story with his son was about that tension), the Reds, the Whites, the Ukranian Greens, all fighting for power, the ebb and flow, but the Reds seeming to be gaining the upper hand, where they are at least.

Also many hints about Strelnikov/Antipov identity. Actually Mikulitchna said as much, but said it was a rumor that she didn't believe.

Interesting, the fact of illegal peasant free-trading, despite dire consequences, present almost everywhere, is mentioned again and again. Pasternak saying the Bolshevik dictatorship couldn't hold up, under the weight of time, eventually, perhaps?


message 9: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments on to chapter 9 tomorrow :-p
Think I might be reading this book until summer! ;-)


message 10: by Tytti (new) - added it

Tytti | 1092 comments MK wrote: "Interesting, the fact of illegal peasant free-trading, despite dire consequences, present almost everywhere, is mentioned again and again. Pasternak saying the Bolshevik dictatorship couldn't hold up, under the weight of time, eventually, perhaps?"

Do you mean black market because of war time rations or something else?

I mean there's always some black market activity, especially in the countryside. That's the most important thing if there is not enough food. Actually at one time in Finland during WWII it was known that you couldn't survive with the official rations only. Many of the people with no means to buy food from the black market (like people in institutions or POW camps) died of hunger.

Also in 1917 or even a couple of years later the Bolsheviks didn't control the whole country (no one really did). If only Mannerheim would have gotten the promise to back Finnish independendence from White Russians and other countries... He might have attacked Petrograd and who knows...


message 11: by MK (last edited Feb 03, 2014 02:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Can you tell me/remind me, about Mannerheim? Lost that name off the back of my memory shelf ;-).

Yes, on black market. But ... Not really JUST black market in the countryside type of thing.

· In Moscow, among Muscavites, and with peasants who came in from the countryside to trade.

· In Smolensky square, and the Arabat, amongst/between everyone.

· Among the new gov't officials, who dealt out credit slips to distribution centers, in exchange for services.

· Among the "suppliers" who were authorized dealers, despite their activity being illegal, bc the infrastructure of the new state didn't exist.

· Among the peasants in the countryside, just as you alluded to, at every train stop along the way, from Moscow to the Urals.

· Among the forced labor conscripts, who, if they had relatives with money, they could expect to be bought out of conscripted service.

· At a house committee meeting in Moscow, where the Soviet district delegate told a rowdy complainer to shush, or she'd turn her in for running an illegal bar.

· At the train station in Moscow, where the ticket master said food and vodka might help get a ticket.

· In the Urals, where a lawyer still practiced contract law, despite all contracts for property, among citizens, being invalidated .

... I know I've skipped some examples. And I'm still only just about halfway through. It seemed like Pasternak was making a point of pointing out, that society could not function without free trade, no matter how many laws forbidding it were passed.


message 12: by Tytti (new) - added it

Tytti | 1092 comments Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy
He was in St. Petersburg (Petrograd) during both revolutions and serving in the front between them.

Well those examples sound pretty normal, and it's still happening in Russia. With a vodka bottle you get papers more quickly, IIRC our exchange student told us...

I don't really think it has anything to do with making a point... I think it was just a mixture of black market, corruption and the old exchange type of trade. There is a word for it... Most peasants were poor after all, they didn't have much money but had something to trade. I actually remember that my mother left some thights for the cleaning lady at the hotel when I was a kid and we visited the Soviet Union. They were cheap for us but valuable in the Soviet Union, IIRC.


message 13: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Ahh, ty for link. Going to read. The story hadn't focused on Petersburg much, the news of the first 1917 Revolution in Petersburg was learned while Yuri was at the front, for example. So it was mentioned as 'this happened in Petersburg', then it focused on Moscow and the we1 front, and the effects there.

Maybe, on the black market. But it feels intentional to me, like he is making a point. He spends alot of time talking about cultural and philosophical underpinnings of revolution, and practical effects of Bolshevism.


message 14: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Ps - Finland made a short appearance :-). Uncle Nikolai returned to Moscow from Switzerland, by way of London and Finland, but first he made a quick stop in Petrograd and got Bolshevized ;-). (This was shortly before the October 1917 Revolution in Moscow.)


message 15: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Jeez ... "remind me of Mannerheim?", I ask... he's only one of the greatest, most famous men of the last century!!!


Ty for not laughing, Tytti ;-)


message 16: by MK (last edited Feb 03, 2014 04:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Tytti wrote: "Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy
He was in St. Petersburg (Petrograd) during both revolutions and serving in the front between them.

Well those examples sound pretty normal, and ..."



Poop. That book isn't available at my library, or at any library in my state. Closest ones are at Harvard College, or Boston College, down in Massachusetts, or over at UVM, in Vermont :(.


message 17: by Tytti (new) - added it

Tytti | 1092 comments MK wrote: "Maybe, on the black market. But it feels intentional to me, like he is making a point. He spends alot of time talking about cultural and philosophical underpinnings of revolution, and practical effects of Bolshevism."

Oh, it seems to be called War Communism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Comm.... But, as I mentioned, I'd be very surprised if Bolsheviks would have had enough control to do anything to the people breaking the law, at that time. But then again, I haven't read the book.

And I suppose Mannerheim isn't that famous. But I suppose most royals and heads-of-states in Europe knew him at his time and he was one of those people that even his enemies respected. The Wikipedia article is pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Gus...


message 18: by MK (new) - rated it 5 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments TY for links! Saving them for tomorrow. :)


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

Bob | 5010 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.


Lotte | 196 comments I feel this part is less about the characters, and more about the events taking place. Pasternak doesn't really spell out all the events, but I felt like I experienced what was happening through the characters. And I learned a lot by googling.

The train journey really is a refugee story... reminded me of modern-day refugees. Don't know if anyone else felt that way?


April Munday | 277 comments Lotte wrote: "I feel this part is less about the characters, and more about the events taking place. Pasternak doesn't really spell out all the events, but I felt like I experienced what was happening through th..."

Yes, they really are refugees, although I don't think they admitted it to themselves. It's a very restless novel, with a few moments of stillness.


Christine | 1217 comments I will definitely need another month to finish this book! I've completed Chapter 8, but it has been slow going for me. I felt like the possible romantic feelings between Lara and Yuri sort of came out of nowhere, and that confused me. Also, since I'm not very familiar with Russian history, I don't understand a lot of the background events in the story. I have researched a bit online, and that has helped, but this novel is definitely not a quick read.

A lot of the dialogue has struck me as being odd or abrupt. I don't know if that's just the edition I'm reading, or if it's a problem of translation, or if that's indeed how it reads in Russian also. Has anyone else had that thought?


message 23: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6554 comments I'll need another month too. I've just finished chapter 7, so that's part 1 done at least. I agree that the possible romance with Yuri and Lara came out of nowhere. It is one of those books that can talk about one scene for pages and pages, then skip years in the next paragraph. I haven't noticed any problems with the dialogue, but now you mention it maybe it does seem a bit abrupt in comparison to the rest of the writing. Which translation are you reading?


April Munday | 277 comments Pink wrote: "I'll need another month too. I've just finished chapter 7, so that's part 1 done at least. I agree that the possible romance with Yuri and Lara came out of nowhere. It is one of those books that ca..."

I think the dialogue is one of the great weaknesses of the novel. Characters don't so much speak to one another as make speeches.


message 25: by Christine (last edited Feb 02, 2018 03:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Christine | 1217 comments Pink wrote: "Which translation are you reading? "

I don't know! The Kindle edition I bought (the cheapest one) doesn't seem to indicate anywhere who the translator was. Now that I have a better handle on all the various names, yesterday I switched back to listening to the audio to try to jump start my progress with this book. The audio edition I have was translated by Volokhonsky & Pevear.


Christine | 1217 comments April wrote: "I think the dialogue is one of the great weaknesses of the novel. Characters don't so much speak to one another as make speeches. "

I heartily agree!


Lotte | 196 comments You can do it! The story line certainly has a few abrupt changes in it, but I felt that kept things fresh (as compared to War and Peace, where some small events seemed to last forever). Good luck :).


Melanti | 2384 comments Christine wrote: "Pink wrote: "Which translation are you reading? "

I don't know! The Kindle edition I bought (the cheapest one) doesn't seem to indicate anywhere who the translator was. Now that I have a better ha..."

I bought the newer P&V one, so it sounds like both available translations are rather abrupt.


Kathleen | 4089 comments I'm finally here, and so happy that I'm not the only one at this point in the book!

I just have to read this slowly. I am loving the story and especially the poetic writing, but I think I would be lost if I didn't know the movie so well.

I agree that the dialog is odd and don't think it's the translation. Early on I was thinking "why are all the women yelling?" It read like they'd had too much coffee or something. Lara banging her iron and Tonya ordering Yuri around. I didn't think they really were on edge, but the dialog just made it sound like that. So maybe that is a weak point.

And I also felt the romance between Yuri and Lara came out of nowhere. Events sneak up on the reader and lots of things are left out. It's sort of like a stream of consciousness novel that way--we get Yuri's thoughts on what is going on and that doesn't always flow logically.

But I'm finding it so compelling. especially when I read it slow. It reads like a poem with layers of possible meanings under almost every line.


Rosemarie | 1579 comments It does appear that much is left out, which mirrors the confusion of those times in Russia.
In this novel, I think the translation makes a huge difference. I read the older translation and really appreciated the poetic language.


back to top