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Doctor Zhivago (Vintage International) Paperback – October 4, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 330 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of the very great books of our time.” —The New Yorker

“Pevear and Volokhonsky have done a masterly job translating what ought to be considered the definitive English edition of Doctor Zhivago.” —The New Criterion

“A welcome opportunity for anyone who has already read Dr. Zhivago to revisit it and experience a richly rewarding fresh take on an epic tale. For those coming to it for the first time it is a chance to read one of the greatest novels of all times.” —New York Journal of Books
 
“As well as a gripping story, Doctor Zhivago is a work of meditation and quiet challenge.  Pasternak meant every word of it.  I believe he would be pleased with the powerful fidelity of the translation now before us.” —Angela Livingstone, The Times Literary Supplement (London)

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307390950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390950
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (330 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vivek Sharma VINE VOICE on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak is quite remarkably a poet's novel: the writer was a poet, and hence each page is full of beautiful imagery, metaphors and word play. The protagonist is a poet, the novel revolves around his love and life in the first half of twentieth century Russia. The reader, by association, has to be a poet to really relish the saga.

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.
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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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Zhivago for the first time in high school. I loved it, but didn't pick it up again for 20 years. I was surprised to find it rough going at the beginning. When I had first read the book, it had been precisely the first 100 or so pages that had enchanted me and pulled me into the novel. This time around, it was the complex and often frustrating last half of the book that really moved me. I guess this is a measure of how the book grows with the reader.

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.
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