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Doctor Zhivago Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 19, 2010
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"In faithfulness to the original, attention to stylistic details and nuances, lucidity, and brilliance it matches Pevear and Volokhonsky’s superb translations of such monumental works of the classics of Russian literature as Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The new edition will have an even more profound effect on our understanding of 20th century Russia that the first appearance of the novel had more than half a century ago."
—Lazar Fleishman, Professor of Russian Literature, Stanford University
“Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have once again provided an outstanding translation of a major Russian novel. They capture Pasternak’s ‘voice’ with great skill. Thanks to their sensitive rendering, those reading Doctor Zhivago in English can now get a far better sense of Pasternak’s style, for they have produced an English text that conveys the nuances (along with the occasional idiosyncrasies) of Pasternak’s writing. Notably as well, their version includes some phrases and sentences that inexplicably were omitted by the original translators. The text is accompanied by useful (but not overwhelming) notes in the back that provide information about many historical and cultural references that would otherwise be obscure for those coming to the novel for the first time. Without a doubt, their version will become the standard translation of the novel for years to come.”
—Barry Scherr, Mandel Family Professor of Russian, Dartmouth College
About the Author
A poet, translator, and novelist, Boris Pasternak was born in Moscow in 1890. In 1958 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature but, facing threats from Soviet authorities, refused the prize. He lived in virtual exile in an artists’ community near Moscow until his death in 1960.
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are the award-winning translators of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, among many other works of Russian literature. They are married and live in France.
Top Customer Reviews
It is one of those novels from last century that everyone must read. The ghosts of socialism and Marxism, the excesses that occured in name of revolution, the transformation of the largest country of the world from ceturies old system into a failed ideal: the novel has enough historical significance. Last century was guided, molded, scarred, decorated and defined by the events and ideas that crop up as part of Doctor Zhivago's life. The literary underpinnings are gigantic: a love story with the Russian Revolution as background score: a Nobel was the least he could have got.
Besides the historical perspective, the story itself is a delightful one. The homely Tonya, Dr Zhivago's wife and first love and mother of his children, the sensuous Lara who weaves into and out of Yuri (Dr Zhivago's) life, her husband Pasha Antipov, who at every junction of his life must fight against ghosts and demons of his wife's past and present and in attempt outclass himself, the Uncle Koyla, the intellectual: the list is unending. Characters are crafted from all sections of society, making this novel a representation of whole society at that time.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Doctor Zhivago is a complicated book that seems to me largely about how people get involved with circumstances (politics, love affairs) that do not interest them, simply because life leaves them vulnerable. That makes for a strange reading experience, because it is not a message that wraps itself up neatly. The texture of the novel is in part about ends-- loose ends, dead ends, character cul-de-sacs. A more experienced author wouldn't have tried to work this theme out in prose using the same methods that Pasternak employed. The book rolls from melodrama to nearly documentary realism. He uses diary form, letters, even poetry to complete the work. I guess it was his lack of experience that allowed him to (very nearly) achieve the impossible. The feeling of the book is an awful lot like life.
There are certainly more polished and perfect novels and novelists out there. Doctor Zhivago would not have profited from their example. As the title of this review says, Zhivago is great precisely because it isn't perfect. It is a great sprawling messy wonderful world of a book.
Recommended for readers of all ages.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would have been confused by the story line if I hadn't seen the film.Published 9 days ago by Michael Harrison
I do find two translations exist by the same authors..very disconcerting.
Dr. Zhivago demands what Joyce's Ulysses requires, like it or not, and that is a very good... Read more
Terrible formatting on the Kindle edition; bad translation. Shouldn't be allowed to be sold on Amazon.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A classic. Better if you know Russian history of that period and something about the geography of Russia. You can get lost with names of places and confusing names of people. Read morePublished 1 month ago by cathy
I don't fully understand why some people really love this book, although I can see how the storyline could catch one's imagination and hold it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lynn A. Davidson
A great book--if you're a fan of nature writing.
The atmosphere of this book is one in which the relatively few humans are dwarfed by the Russian weather and landscape. Read more