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Doctor Zhivago
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RUSSIA > 8.    DR ZHIVAGO - HF - CHAPTERS 11 and 12 - pgs 352 - 375  ~  July 23nrd - July 29th;  No Spoilers, Please

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message 1: by Becky (last edited Jul 05, 2012 03:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Hello Everyone,

For the week of July 23rd - July 29th, we are reading Chapters 11 and 12 of Dr. Zhivago.

The eighth week's reading assignment is:

Week Eight - July 23rd - July 29th:


Chapter ELEVEN and Chapter TWELVE pgs. 352 - 375
Chapter ELEVEN - The Forest Brotherhood
and
Chapter TWELVE - The Rowan Tree



We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book is being kicked off on June 4th. We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle. This weekly thread will be opened up on July 23rd.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Becky Lindroos will be leading this discussion.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak by Boris Pasternak Boris Pasternak

REMEMBER NO SPOILERS ON THE WEEKLY NON SPOILER THREADS

Notes:

It is always a tremendous help when you quote specifically from the book itself and reference the chapter and page numbers when responding. The text itself helps folks know what you are referencing and makes things clear.

Citations:

If an author or book is mentioned other than the book and author being discussed, citations must be included according to our guidelines. Also, when citing other sources, please provide credit where credit is due and/or the link. There is no need to re-cite the author and the book we are discussing however.

If you need help - here is a thread called the Mechanics of the Board which will show you how:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...

Glossary

Remember there is a glossary thread where ancillary information is placed by the moderator. This is also a thread where additional information can be placed by the group members regarding the subject matter being discussed.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...

Bibliography

There is a Bibliography where books cited in the text are posted with proper citations and reviews. We also post the books that the author used in her research or in her notes. Please also feel free to add to the Bibliography thread any related books, etc with proper citations. No self promotion, please.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Chapter Overviews and Summaries

Chapter 11 The Forest Brotherhood


Yuri has been a prisoner for a year. He tried to escape 3 times but was captured. The Reds attack from the West while the Whites move on them from the East. Yuri is sent to get medical supplies abandoned by the Whites. Liberius, the leader, has become addicted to cocaine which is in the supplies. Yuri accidentally shoots a White soldier near a battle. He nurses the young man to health and the boy returns to the Whites.

Liberius discusses politics with Yuri who tells him he is misusing cocaine. Yuri hates Liberius and misses Tonya. Lajos tells him of unrest in the troops. They miss their families who are following to join them. The medical unit has to move on and Yuri is sent to see Palykh Pamphill, a "mental case." He overhears partisans negotiating with the Whites to capture or kill Liberius. The plot is foiled. Palykh feels he is losing and guilty about the killing. He doesn't remember much of his past and has concerns about his family.


Chapter 12 The Rowan Tree

The families arrive and some vodka brewers are executed. The Reds are trapped for the winter. Yuri is running out of medical supplies and strong alcohol is brewed. Pamphil is better, but when he hears that the families should go back home, he relapses into hallucinations.

The Reds break through the circle of Whites but more refugees get in. Rather than leave, the women build roads and bridges. A man crawls into camp with one arm and one leg cut off and tied to his back. He reports what the Whites are planning. Pamphil hears this and kills his family and later flees the camp. Yuri only wants to know about the families but he gets news of the war - how the Whites have been beaten and the war is over. Still, there is no news of the families. Yuri despairs of Tonya trying to make it through to him. He leaves and hugs a Rowan tree, pretending it's Lara.


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments 11.1  It was more than a year since Yurii Andreievich had been taken prisoner by the partisans. The limits of his freedom were very ill defined. The place of his captivity was not surrounded by walls; he was not under guard, and no one watched his movements.

What kind of "prison" is this?  I think perhaps it may be more of a metaphor for the imprisonment Yurii (Pasternak) feels as a poet.   And/ or it might be something of the way Pasternak felt during Stalin's era - Pasternak was not to be touched.   Actually, "Stalin is said to have crossed Pasternak's name off an execution list during the Great Purge. According to Pasternak himself, Stalin declared, "Do not touch this cloud dweller."[16]"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Pa...

Thoughts? 


Joanne | 647 comments Becky wrote: "11.1  It was more than a year since Yurii Andreievich had been taken prisoner by the partisans. The limits of his freedom were very ill defined. The place of his captivity was not surrounded by wal..."

Wow. What a quote from Stalin! Yuri's prison is clearly not a physical one; his escape is too easy. Is it more about deeper privation and separation? Separation that will result in transformation. His 40 days in the desert? His Siberia. Is it designed to force him out of his denial/romanticism and put him face-to-face with some of the real insanity of the Civil War? He does face his past as a "White" and his affinity for his past.

There is much to discuss in the titles of the two chapters. Yuri will never be part of the human "Forest Brotherhood," though he may be a true Brother of the Forest. The Rowen tree is a complex symbol; let's discuss how it might and might not be like Lara as a mythological creature.


message 5: by Becky (last edited Jul 23, 2012 04:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments 10.9.
“I was thirsty and I couldn’t sleep. I thought I’d go out for a breath of air and eat some snow. Then I saw the rowan tree with iced berries on it. I want to go and pick a few.”

(...)

The footpath brought the doctor to the foot of the rowan tree, whose name he had just spoken. It was half in snow, half in frozen leaves and berries, and it held out two white branches toward him. He remembered Lara’s strong white arms and seized the branches and pulled them to him. As if in answer, the tree shook snow all over him. He muttered without realizing what he was saying, and completely beside himself: “I’ll find you, my beauty, my love, my rowan tree, my own flesh and blood.”

It was a clear night with a full moon. He made his way farther into the taiga, to the marked tree, unearthed his things, and left the camp.


There are the white arm/limbs, of course, but the berries are frozen and snow showers down.

One thing here is that Yurii actually *decides* to leave, and does it.


message 6: by Becky (last edited Jul 25, 2012 04:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Can you see the arms?


Mature European Rowan tree

and with frozen berries:


iced rowan berries

There is more info in the Glossary - (spoilers) - page 1, Chapter 12 ( scroll down).
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...


message 7: by G (last edited Jul 24, 2012 08:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments Your glossary is magnificent. An extensive annotated Zhivago. The Rowan tree (also called witch wood) intrigued me because of a little book about a stand of Mountain Ash (Rowan) and the religious conflicts of the town. (See below for the reference). Zhivago and the Rowan tree is, in my opinion, another religious reference and I still think Lara has Mother Mary/Mary Magdalene symbolism.

Witch Wood by John Buchan by John Buchan John Buchan


message 8: by Becky (last edited Jul 23, 2012 07:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Hi G, your citation in message #7 should look exactly like the sample at the bottom of this message.

The book cover link first, then the author photo and finally the author link. You can put the word "by" in there if you want. And an easier way to do it is to write the text out in the sentence and put the citation photos and links separately at the end of the post. That way is easier to read, too.

Please fix message # 7 by using the "edit" link next to the "reply" link. Also, please use the "preview" link to make sure it's correct.

Finally, a good place to practice citations is at the "Mechanics of the Board" thread
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...


Witch Wood by John Buchan by John Buchan John Buchan


message 9: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments Becky wrote: "Hi G, your citation in message #7 should look exactly like the sample at the bottom of this message.

The book cover link first, then the author photo and finally the author link. You can put th..."


Thanks. Somehow I just like to see the book and author in the body of the text rather than at the bottom. I've just got to get over it.


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Thanks. It's a lot easier to read if the whole site is consistent.  :-)

And also thank you for the kind words about the Glossary.  Please feel free to add whatever you find of relevance to the book but not fitting in a specfic "spoiler" thread. 


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Becky wrote: "10.9. 
“I was thirsty and I couldn’t sleep. I thought I’d go out for a breath of air and eat some snow. Then I saw the rowan tree with iced berries on it. I want to go and pick a few.”"


And any thoughts on the Rowen tree as symbol or metaphor? Could Yurii be thinking of a martyr's cross there, hugging the tree with it's blood-colored berries? Could this be, as G. suggested, an allusion  to Mary Magdalene? Why  are the berries frozen rather than fallen? 


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments I've continued  to think about Frank's question regarding the location of the towns here in these last 3 or 4 chapters. Coming again to the chronology from Edith Clowes' Doctor Zhivago, she says Western Siberia. So, is that east or west of the Urals?  I check the Great Wiki for the boundaries of Siberia and find that the Urals are the western border of Siberia. Therefore, it would seem that yes, the small towns of the "old highway" are east of the Urals.

Encompassing much of the Eurasian Steppe, the territory of Siberia extends eastward from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan, then to the national borders of Mongolia and the China.[1] Siberia makes up about 77% of Russia's territory (13.1 million square kilometres), but is home to only 28% (40 million people) of Russia's population.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia

Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago" A Critical Companion by Edith W. Clowes by Edith W. Clowes (no photo)


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments 12.6   Kubarikha, his “rival” as he jokingly called the cattle healer.  

This "rival,"  a shaman, imo,  heals Mrs. Pamphil's cow.  She sings and laughs - She speaks,  Yurii listens.    Yurii thinks of ancient rituals.  

He thinks he recognizes some words from an ancient Chronicle,  Novgorod or Epatievo -

    Why, then, had he succumbed so completely to the tyranny of the legend? Why did this gibberish, this absurd talk, impress him as if it were describing real events?   

Can we answer this?  Why did Yurii succumb?

   Lara’s left shoulder had been cut open. Like a key turning in the lock of a secret safe, the sword unlocked her shoulder blade and the secrets she had kept in the depths of her soul came to light. Unfamiliar towns, streets, rooms, countrysides unrolled like a film, whole reels of film, unfolding, discharging their contents.

 How he loved her! How beautiful she was! In exactly the way “he had always thought and dreamed and wanted!

(...)

“Go along now,” said the witch to Agafia. “I have charmed your cow, she will get well. Pray to the Mother of God, who is the abode of light and the book of the living word.”

The words and charms of the witch and thoughts of Lara are woven together in this section. 


FrankH | 76 comments "Why, then, had he succumbed so completely to the tyranny of the legend? Why did this gibberish, this absurd talk, impress him as if it were describing real events?"

Can we answer this? Why did Yurii succumb?


Perhaps the short answer is that Yuri found the old legend of the women of wheat and honeycomb to be a template for his interaction and attraction to Lara -- he's the knight who has engaged her, applied the sword and literally opened her up to find her secrets, her essence and soul. And what's there? The Haywood translation focuses on 'unfamiliar towns, streets, rooms, unrolled like a film', but the Pevear translation has, I think, something a little more resonant with 'strange towns..strange streets, strange houses, strange expanses drew out in ribbons, in unwinding skeins of ribbons.' I like the repeated 'strange' better than 'unfamiliar' because it's closer to the idea of Lara as a transcendent, desirable Other, an implacable mystery that's also suggested in the 'belonging to nobody' text cited earlier, though Lara is also life-giving and -affirming like the Rowan tree. That said, I think we may still have a ways to go in determining how Pasternak exactly wants us to think of Lara.




Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Beautifully said, Frank, thanks. Yes, and Yurii has succumbed because he is a poet to his core - not much left of the old materialist science guy. He responds to the "words" and the myth of the chronicles. And his current enviroment, so far from "civilization," does nothing to discourage him.

And the word "strange" does fit more with the sense of the passage.


Joanne | 647 comments Becky wrote: "Becky wrote: "10.9. 
“I was thirsty and I couldn’t sleep. I thought I’d go out for a breath of air and eat some snow. Then I saw the rowan tree with iced berries on it. I want to go and pick a few...."


At its simplest, the Rowen is a life-giving reality, offering berries in the dead of winter. How it gained its magical and transformative status is lost to folklore. At this critical point in the novel, Zhivago's embrace (acceptance, surrender to?) of the Rowen tree is the beginning of his rejuvenation, his Resurrection. For most of the novel, we have known a "dead" Zhivago, a somnambulist, shell-shocked by war. Finally making a clear, independent decision, he takes Fate in his own hands and walks away from imprisonment. Life, sustenance, rebirth, all of these he equates with Lara. Can she live up to the demand? Will she be life-giving in the dead of the Russian winter, requesting nothing in return?


message 17: by Becky (last edited Jul 27, 2012 02:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Well, I must say that the commenters on this thread can certainly write some evocative replies! Perhaps the poetic aspect of the book is inspiring that way.

So the "imprisonment" Yurii found himself in was largely because he lacked the strength or inspiration to leave - the path of escape was open enough and he had hidden his clothes in readiness.

Yurii is one confused soul at this point. In 11. 8 he wants to kill Liberius himself, yet when he overhears the plot against him he goes to warn him. He misses Tonya but yearns for Lara.  He apparently doesn't believe the magic of the shaman (cow-healer and ancient forests) and yet he responds to it.


From 11.5  (but two years earlier - has the man changed or is this the same old indecisive Yurii who finally changes - or does he - at the Rowen tree?):

“Tonia, my darling, my poor child! Where are you? Are you alive? Dear Lord, she was to have her baby long ago. How did she get through the confinement? Have we got a son or a daughter? My dear ones, what is happening to all of you? Tonia, you are my everlasting reproach. Lara, I daren’t speak your name for fear of gasping out my life. O God! God!... ">/i>


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Mental illness appears in this chapter, along with drug and alcohol abuse. 

11. 5  Yurii to Liberius:
And I must really draw your attention to your excessive consumption of cocaine. You have been willfully depleting the stock of which I am in charge. You know perfectly well that it is needed for other purposes, as well as that it is a poison and I am responsible for your health.”

“There are three points. First, the court-martial of the vodka brewers; second, the reorganization of the field ambulance and the pharmacy; and third, my proposal for the treatment of mental illnesses. I don’t know whether you agree with me, my dear Lajos, but from what I observe we are going  mad, and modern forms of insanity  spread like an epidemic.

11.9  the mentally ill Pamphill to Yurii:
“I’ve done away with a lot of your kind, there’s a lot of officers’ blood on my hands. Officers, bourgeois. And it’s never worried me. Spilled it like water. Names and numbers all gone out of my head. But there’s one little fellow I can’t get out of my mind. I killed that youngster and I can’t forget it. Why did I have to kill him? He made me laugh, and I killed him for a joke, for nothing, like a fool.

Historical connection:
"... the White Army’s fervent nationalism and disregard for peasant land claims drove a wedge between the struggling army and the general population²⁴. On top of this, the White Army had a horrible reputation for the widespread use of cocaine and vodka, further damaging relations with the general public²⁵. Because of the White Army’s inability to connect with the majority of the Russian populace, the Red Army, with the help of its diverse support network, was able to crush the Whites."

http://uahsibhistory.wikispaces.com/R...

Question:  Could Yurii be having his own breakdown when he finds  the Rowen tree?


Joanne | 647 comments I would suggest that he is running from the premonition of his own inevitable breakdown. Everything he has known, everything he expected from life has broken down. Why would he not be next? After all, he was born to the advantaged class, and as was foretold by the deaf-mute, all of this Old World must be destroyed so that The New Order can be built on the ashes. That all includes Dr. Zhivago. The novel is shaping up as a personal tragedy, mirroring the tragedy of civil war and revolution.


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Joanne wrote: " The novel is shaping up as a personal tragedy, mirroring the tragedy of civil war and revolution."

I can certainly see what you're saying there, Joanne, especially in the mirroring. In terms of the word tragedy, is this in the generic sense of the term or might it not be in the literary sense, as well, wherein the seeds of the tragedy lie in the character himself - whether that be Yurii or Russia or the "people"?

In a sense echoed here, it would seem that Figes' book is certainly aptly named.

A People's Tragedy A History of the Russian Revolution by Orlando Figes Orlando Figes Orlando Figes


message 21: by Joanne (last edited Jul 29, 2012 05:04AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joanne | 647 comments Becky wrote: "Joanne wrote: " The novel is shaping up as a personal tragedy, mirroring the tragedy of civil war and revolution."

I can certainly see what you're saying there, Joanne, especially in the mirroring..."


Yes and Yes. At what feels like the turning point in the novel, it still does not feel "hopeful." "Comedy" rises from "bad" to "good." "Tragedy" falls from "good" to "bad." "Dr. Zhivago" might be seen as tragic, if only because Life (Zhivago) always leads to Death. The Revolution desires to strip the Russians of their old religious beliefs, hopes, and superstitions. If the State has replaced the Church, where is Life everlasting? All that remains for Russians is suffering and, at best, a noble death for a greater good.

To the degree that Yuri stands in for the destruction of a culture, a class, a way of life, there is both personal and collective loss. But this does not necessarily make him a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle in the "Poetics."

Classical, literary tragedy, is a Western notion and, more and more, Pasternak reveals an Eastern mindset. When Fate is running the show, rather than the decisions of individuals, can we view the novel as a Tragedy? Is it simply the way things were destined to go. Can it be tragic without being a Tragedy?

The seeds of Tragedy are something a tragic character can never escape. Fate is something humans can never escape. One is an internal view of inevitability, the other external. Two sides of the same coin.

Poetics by Aristotle by Aristotle Aristotle


message 22: by G (last edited Jul 29, 2012 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments I see the character of Zhivago as starting adulthood confused and rootless. He then finds an anchor in Tonia (strangely not in his profession) and is ultimately conflicted because of his love of Lara. This aspect of my take is very superficial and without symbolism.

I also think Pasternak has brought up free will in giving Zhivago small choices in thought. He forgets his wife, then remembers her with guilt. This is his choice. So he manages the course of his own fate. He is almost "everyman" and neither hero nor anti-hero, just someone caught in the midst of events more global than his life.

As I said, this is not on the symbolic narrative level, but rather the sequential narrative level.


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Joanne wrote: "To the degree that Yuri stands in for the destruction of a culture, a class, a way of life, there is both personal and collective loss. But this does not necessarily make him a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle in the "Poetics."

My thought *at the moment*  is that Yurii is a rather tragic figure in the Aristotilian sense, his "fatal" flaws being those of indeciseveness and mysticism.  Other than those attrbutes, he is a very good man - and in other times (1905?) these characteristic might not have been flaws at all, certainly not fatal. 

But with those aspects he is doomed in the face of  Bolshevik materialism and the atrocities of war, as well as in his love life. He may have been conveniently (imo) able to work on the "neutral"  Red Cross train, but he was unable to stay out of the conflict when he killed the White recruit (11.4) 

There may be more on this aspect yet in the book - maybe some clarification even in the poetry, but I'm not going there yet.
(Please feel free to comment at will in the Poems and Book As a Whole thread:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...

I wonder also how much of my attitude is determined by the values of the 21 st century.

Poetics by Aristotle Aristotle Aristotle


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments G wrote: "In another thread (which I couldn't find but know it is there) our opinion of the movie was requested. What I wanted to say there, and is in contrast to the book, is that in the movie (which in my..."

I put the movie thread in the Glossary because it really is so different from the book ( as I read the book, anyway). I agree, it's basically a love story and I think it may have it's own symbolism - Lean's version, anyway.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...

It's message #64, btw. Could you please move your post here, #22, over there? Perhaps others would like to discuss the movie aspect. Thanks.


Joanne | 647 comments Becky wrote: "Joanne wrote: "To the degree that Yuri stands in for the destruction of a culture, a class, a way of life, there is both personal and collective loss. But this does not necessarily make him a tragi..."

In his historic context, Yuri's mysticism would not be a tragic flaw. Even his indecisiveness is probably only an issue from our 21st century/American point of view. It could be viewed a surrender or acceptance of what "befalls" him. When he commits adultery, however, at least in the eyes of the Church of his past, can he still be considered a "good" man.


message 26: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments Becky wrote: "G wrote: "In another thread (which I couldn't find but know it is there) our opinion of the movie was requested. What I wanted to say there, and is in contrast to the book, is that in the movie (w..."

Thanks! Done.


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Joanne wrote: "Becky wrote: "Joanne wrote: "To the degree that Yuri stands in for the destruction of a culture, a class, a way of life, there is both personal and collective loss. But this does not necessarily ma..."

All good points, I can't see his indecisevness re the political aspects of his situation as being a flaw, many other characters in the book were changing - look at Uncle Nikolai!

As to his adultery, well, I think I'm not sympathising at all with Yurii or his plight. I doubt he's going to confession whether Lara is his Mary Magdalene, muse, springtime or whatever. Tonya is a good woman and Lara has many fine qualities. If Yurii were single and without children, I would most certainly see his problem.


Joanne | 647 comments Becky wrote: "Joanne wrote: "Becky wrote: "Joanne wrote: "To the degree that Yuri stands in for the destruction of a culture, a class, a way of life, there is both personal and collective loss. But this does not..."

If we are not sympathizing with Zhivago, does this not fundamentally diminish the power of the book? Would not his deception of Tonya have been even more despicable in 1960? Lara's marital status is a bit more confounding. Has she been deserted? Or, not unlike Tonya, is her marriage suspended due the general chaos of war and revolution?. It is a bit easier to understand why Lara might seek the protection of a man than it is to comprehend Yuri's need for feminine strength. Unless, it is all about Mother. If so, is it time to call in Freud?

The Penguin Freud Reader (Penguin Modern Classics) by Sigmund Freud by Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud


FrankH | 76 comments My thought *at the moment* is that Yurii is a rather tragic figure in the Aristotilian sense, his "fatal" flaws being those of indeciseveness and mysticism. Other than those attrbutes, he is a very good man - and in other times (1905?) these characteristic might not have been flaws at all, certainly not fatal..."

Perhaps another way of saying some of this is that Yuri's poetic sensibility makes him historically irrelevant at a time when irrevocable forces of history -- the Revolution and Civil War -- are overwhelmingly paramount. It's a revolutionary's idea, of course: there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, only the past and future, and Yuri seems to be completely outside this paradigm, without a future (Red poets of a different stripe like Vladimir Mayokovsky, of course, were very popular, i.e. had a future). Though Yuri logically might take some satisfaction in serving humanity via the utility of healing wounded soliders, Pasternak seems disinclined to show this.

Though it may be a completely reductive idea, these two chapters seem to reflect an interest in perceptual dualities similar to the Death/Resurection theme cited by Joanne. Most significantly, there's the forest which, in one location, contains the life-giving Rowan but, in another, the death-haunted, dolmen-encircled tract, bordering on a dizzying ravine, where the traitors are executed. From one perspective, partisan battle casualties signal a defeat, while simultaneously announcing a successful evasive action. Refugee women, 'army wives', either abandon their children and return to the enemy or astound the partisan commander by building roads through the taiga to reach their husbands in camp. Pamphil loves his family so much he must kill them (Yuri doesn't exactly say it, but the only sane reaction to atrocities like the butchered partisan returning from the enemy camp may be to go in-sane). And of course, there's Yuri's meditation, cited earlier by Becky, in which he's afraid to mention Lara's name -- in the same breath that has uttered Tonya's -- for 'fear of gasping out my life'. It is the fact that two different women engender the same intensity of feeling and heartbreak that constitutes the duality. And, agreeing with G, it's along this axis, where the element of free will contributes to Yuri's adultery, that the idea of a 'tragic flaw', if not of classic tragedy, is sharpest. (I'm still pondering the moral issue of the adultery).


Joanne | 647 comments FrankH wrote: "My thought *at the moment* is that Yurii is a rather tragic figure in the Aristotilian sense, his "fatal" flaws being those of indeciseveness and mysticism. Other than those attrbutes, he is a ve..."

The sequence of the refugee women was intense and painful. Can they be seen as collective/mob of Laras and Tonyas gone wild?


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Joanne wrote: " If we are not sympathizing with Zhivago, does this not fundamentally diminish the power of the book? Would not his deception of Tonya have been even more despicable in 1960?

I think both the book and the movie were written with Zhivago as a sympathetic protagonist. My issue is probably biased by 21st century attitudes.

I'm wondering if the philosophy of Vladimir Soloviev  (see Chapter 1.5) might not have something to do with Yurii's love for Lara.  I haven't read Soloviev's book, The Meaning of Love, but here is a passage:

"The meaning and worth of love as a feeling is that it really forces us, with all our being, to acknowledge for another the same absolute significance that, because of the power of egoism, we are conscious of only in our own selves. Love is important, not only as one of our feelings but as the transfer of all our interest in life from ourselves to another, as the shifting of the very center of our lives.... 

"The meaning of human love, speaking generally, is the justification and salvation of individuality through the sacrifice of egoism. On this general basis we can also ... explain the meaning of sexual love" (Vladimir Solovyov)
What is the meaning of love's intense emotion? Solovyov points to the spark of divinity that we see in another human being and shows how this "living ideal of Divine love, antecedent to our love, contains in itself the secret of the idealization of our love." 

and a brief explanation:

According to Solovyov, love between men and women has a key role to play in the mystical transfiguration of the world. Love, which allows one person to find unconditional completion in another, becomes an evolutionary strategy for overcoming cosmic disintegration.

both from:
http://www.steinerbooks.org/detail.ht...

The Meaning of Love by Vladimir Solovyov Vladimir Solovyov(no photo)


Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments FrankH wrote: "Though Yuri logically might take some satisfaction in serving humanity via the utility of healing wounded soliders, Pasternak seems disinclined to show this.

Throughout the book Yurii seems to be leaning more and more toward the aesthtic and poetical side of his supposedly dual nature. Except for a precious few brief scenes to establish that he was one, his doctoring was never really emphasized.

Also from Frank: "Refugee women, 'army wives', either abandon their children and return to the enemy or astound the partisan commander by building roads through the taiga to reach their husbands in camp."

I was deeply affected by this description in the book. How horrendous. Yes, Tonya did come to mind.


FrankH | 76 comments Joanne wrote: The sequence of the refugee women was intense and painful. Can they be seen as collective/mob of Laras and Tonyas gone wild?

Aha.. a testy reaction to commentary? I gather from the veiled sarcasm in your reply about mobs of 'Tonyas and Laras', Joanne, that my parenthetical notion on 'sane' reactions in an insane world did not rise to your standard of useful commentary. Is this correct? It's not obviously the freshest idea but I think it needed to be expressed, even restated. As we've seen in the text, the insanity of war can produce insane reactions in 'normal' people, eroding the concept of what it means to be sane. Pamphil slaughters his family to protect them -- insane; the partisan officers then let him escape to the woods, without punishment -- insane. The agency is not predictive or absolute in all cases, but that doesn't mean there's no causation. I dare say it's not the first time we've seen overstatement -- on any number of Zhivago threads -- offered as a way to spark and enrich our discussions. My comment on Pamphil had nothing to do with Tonya or Lara and was made principally to acknowledge Becky's earlier citation of the theme of mental illness. I've commented on the concept of dualities before, though, so, on this count, I will plead guilty to the charge of repeating myself.

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Joanne | 647 comments FrankH wrote: "Joanne wrote: The sequence of the refugee women was intense and painful. Can they be seen as collective/mob of Laras and Tonyas gone wild?

Aha.. a testy reaction to commentary? I gather from the..."


If I was testy, it wasn't directed at Frank's comment, whose thoughtful and thought-provoking posts I continue to appreciate. Nor was it directed at any particular comment. I will admit to a hasty and weary post. I am weary of Zhivago's character and weary of what, for me, has become a plodding reading experience. That said, Pasternak is very successfully communicating his subject by inviting us into Zhivago's experience, which is frequently extremely unpleasant. He is weary! War, the desperate decline of a nation, and the privation and suffering of so many individuals is hard to look at. I was sincere (though perhaps not at my most articulate) when I referred to a mob of Tonyas and Laras. As we have gotten to know these two women in some detail, we empathize (to varying degrees) with both of them. If we knew as much about each of the refugees, we likely could not bear the suffering. So, they are stripped of their individual stories and they become a mob, giving the reader some distance so he can carry on. It is how we all, at times, depersonalize war, creating distance through anonymity.

As to the insanity of war, Pamphil's murder of his family makes a kind of crazy sense given the situation as he perceives it, especially given the Eastern attitude towards suicide and/or the Orthodox promise of a peaceful afterlife. Then comes the irony of his release -- insanity piled on top of insanity, perfectly reflecting the madness and unpredictability of war.


message 35: by Becky (last edited Jul 30, 2012 07:48AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1217 comments Joanne wrote:"If we knew as much about each of the refugees, we likely could not bear the suffering."

Oh how true. And it is in scenes like this, I think, that Pasternak comes closest to touching on some kind of social history for us. Perhaps. It certainly adds "flesh to the facts," albeit in the context of fiction.


message 36: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments Like is not quite the right word, but what I liked about these sections is exactly that, a kind of social history. None of the glory of war for Pasternak. The heros were the every day people who managed, like Tonia who I see as the real hero of the piece so far. The Zhivago's who are overcome by their own indecision and lack of ability to act are the victims in the social war and that they don't cause further failure along their interpersonal line of interactions is a plot device. Zhivago is pictured as so very isolated, even as he interacts; he isolates himself. And yes, once again you have clarified for me my feelings - I am so tired of Zhivago (not the book, the character).


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