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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Russian masterpiece, wonderfully translated
What a marvellous book and what a marvellous translation. Pevear and Volokhonsky's translations of the Russian masters always connect, draw you in and leave you in awe of the author. (The only complaint I have of this particular edition is the lack of a more thorough list of characters to refer back to, which would help the reader to assimilate these as they step in...
Published on 24 Feb 2012 by xmarty

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best translation
Of course, Dr Zhivago was one of the great works of literature, so it deserves five stars. It's a story about people caught up in titanic times, times of huge moment and giant convulsion like the Titans, but also times of disaster and destruction, like the Titanic.

We meet a wide cast of characters and follow the life of the key protagonist, Yuri, from early...
Published 13 months ago by Angus Jenkinson


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best translation, 27 July 2013
By 
Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Of course, Dr Zhivago was one of the great works of literature, so it deserves five stars. It's a story about people caught up in titanic times, times of huge moment and giant convulsion like the Titans, but also times of disaster and destruction, like the Titanic.

We meet a wide cast of characters and follow the life of the key protagonist, Yuri, from early boyhood to death and what happens after. I think one way to read this text is to simultaneously see how the immensity of the times - things come to a culmination during the First World War and the Russian Revolution - dwarf individuals and carry them willy-nilly on their own tides, and yet at the same time it is individuals who push and squeeze the times into what they are. It's only partly a love story, or several love stories, although the finding of love in the midst of or perhaps because of the mess of the times is a vital theme. I think at some level love matters as much as national revolution. But national revolution allows relationships that would never have otherwise happened, indeed conventional arrangements are shot to pieces. Pasternak brings lyrical descriptions and a sense of the giant nation. Such lyrical passages are contrasted with one of the most powerful and poignant and bleak statements in all literature as the final fate of Lara is casually disposed of in the moral bankruptcy of Stalin's Russia. It's not a perfect book, as others say, it has flaws, but it's a truly great book.

But what about this translation? I don't think it's the best. My daughter and I did a book club reading and she read with more difficulty this translation. We compared a number of passages and invariably both agreed that the old Fontana translation is better Doctor Zhivago. These particular translators have become very popular - fashionable - they almost dominate Russian translation today. But there is a kind of stiffness sometimes about the translation which does not help. The book also lacks what would be very helpful, a really good list of characters and key pages where you can remind yourself of who they are. Two very important characters for example appear after a gap of hundreds of pages.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Russian masterpiece, wonderfully translated, 24 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
What a marvellous book and what a marvellous translation. Pevear and Volokhonsky's translations of the Russian masters always connect, draw you in and leave you in awe of the author. (The only complaint I have of this particular edition is the lack of a more thorough list of characters to refer back to, which would help the reader to assimilate these as they step in and out of the action at the start of the novel). But be warned, this is not a book you're meant to breeze through. Pasternak fills the pages with prose and similes, wonderfully translated, which magnificently describe the Russian landscape, atmosphere and surroundings, always reflecting the pace of events and which always place the reader at the very heart of the scene. But take your time to absorb these and the book will live on in your memory, long after the final page has been read. Richard Pevear and Larrisa Volokhonsky's translations of Zhivago's poems at the end of the novel have left me pining for more. It is essential that they now bring their skills to translate the rest of Pasternak's poetry and prose, to allow us non-Russian speakers to more fully experience this master's works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor translation, 28 Jun 2014
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Poor translation. It was not in any case needed - the original one, by Max Hayward and Manya Harari, remains much better
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good translation of the author's difficult and complex prose, 28 Aug 2014
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
A good translation of the author's difficult and complex prose. I'm re-reading this novel in Russian and relying on the translation for help. I'm full of admiration for the translation, but wish that, as is the case with both Russian and English versions of Tolstoy's 'War and Peace', we could have a list of characters with name, patronymic, surname and short name for reference at the beginning of the volume.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel though, 14 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I watched the movie before I read the book and one thing for sure is the fact that the movie dwelled too much on the Lara and Yuri love story. However, the novel goes deeper, describing Russia as it was during the first half of the last century especially before the Second World War. Actually, the novel revolves around Yuri Andreivich Zhivago a doctor and poet whose life is a series of trials beginning with the funeral for his mother' until he too made the honorable exit to the world beyond. Dr Zhivago trials take him across the length and breadth of Russia through war as a soldier in the Red Army and as a man with a strong desire to lead a normal life with his wife and son, but who cannot avoid the love of a woman destiny always put on his way.

The remarkable thing about Dr ZHIVAGO is the fact that Pasternak successfully made it possible for the reader to look beyond the tragedies and sufferings in the story to the worthiness of life that comes with love and loving. Romance is born and even thrives in tragedies and misery showing that life can be beautiful at all times because the human soul that harbors hope can endure the worst atrocities of war and still stay beautiful.

Rich and poetic, DR ZHIVAGO is a breathtaking story. It has a few flaws, but the underlying strength of the story is overwhelming. Reminds me of The Union Moujik, War and Peace, and Taras Bulba. I enjoyed DR ZHIVAGO and would recommend it to any book enthusiast, especially someone with an interest in Russian literature.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Ok a classic Russian epic with the classic Russian novel name dilemma, 5 Aug 2013
By 
H. Tee (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is the famous modern classic book (and epic film by David Lean in 1965) by Russian Pasternak taking 10 years to write and was published 1957 much to the annoyance of Soviet authorities (it was banned until 1988 because of the latent criticism of lots of the actions of the revolution); he won the Nobel prize in 1958.

The story starts in 1903 and slowly introduces the key characters in their youth: Yuri Andreevich Zhivago at his mother's funeral, his guardian uncle Nikolai Nikolaevich Vedenyapin; the baddie Viktor Komarovsky solicitor responsible for Zhivago's father's soon demise; friend Pasha Pavel Antipov; and then the two main women Yonya Gromeko who Zhivago marries and Larissa Guichard. Larissa however is a bit wayward and after ructions and attempted murder (of her lover Komarovsky) ends up with Pasha but Zhivago later fancies her - thus setting the dynamic of the `love story'. The backdrop is the full Russian history to the story's basic conclusion (before the epilogue) including Russian-Japanese war; rise of the Bolsheviks; first World War; February, October and Russian civil wars (Whites v Reds, Ukrainian etc), Stalinism; Gulags and the start of the WWII. Zhivago becomes a doctor/poet and flees with his family from Moscow to his Ural rural home because of the inevitable persecutions etc. He repeatedly meets old friends and foes and especially Larissa. An awful lot happens in the story intertwining motives, passions, children, poverty, revolutionary power, roles in war, injury and death covering 500 pages of small font text.

The moan:
Now, I cannot remember why I decided to read this book (perhaps it just being a `Vintage Classic') though I can now remember why I dislike most Russian novels I've read; and been avoiding reading Anna Karenina (which has been unread on my shelf now for many years). First off this is a modern translation yet makes absolutely no concession to a modern English reader (me) for the usual bane of such novels being "Russian names" - if you need a list of 8 principle characters why on earth not include all the characters (there must have been triple that at least) with a brief description (like many Dickens novels I've read)?; the 8 mentioned have 23 different references/diminutives between them even without the similarity to their parents too: even after 400+ pages I was still thumbing my way to this short list to check it. What is the point in the same short paragraph of referring to Yuri Andreevich doing something and the next sentence have Dr Zhivago do another? Translators have long accepted that tu/vous is virtually untranslatable in English, why not accept English will never get the subtly of patrimony, titles names etc pick Mr X Y and use X or Mr Y as necessary. The next issue for readability is the "in and out" of minor characters of the story with unmemorable names, people suddenly appear having had an earlier reference much later, but interacting strongly in the story - rather confusing.

As a device Dr Zhivago is a poet and his poems then appear at the book's end is an excellent idea; however the author didn't signpost which poem corresponds to which point in the narrative; and unfortunately the poems didn't appear either that thought provoking and/or challenging enough to warrant revolutionary targeting (reason for the fleeing). I could guess a few readers, after struggling with this story/translation, not bothering to read the poems - you won't miss much if you do.

The praise:
The sweeping narrative and sense of time and place is there. The power of revolution and history impacting on friends and family is ever evident and powerfully told. The love story aspect for me was fortunately rather scant - I get the impression this might be more from the film than book. The finale of Larissa and Zhivago arrives.

In conclusion I'll give this only 2 stars for enjoyment though (and doubtless hence get many an 'unuseful' black mark from those who've already read it) - but if I had found a better translation I know this could easily have got 4 stars. So my only advice is find the right translation (if such exists?).

Some quotes:
"The intended shot had already rung out in her soul, with total indifference to the one it had been aimed at. This shot was the only thing she was conscious of. She heard it all along the way, and it was fired at Komarovsky, at herself, at her own fate, and at the oak in Duplyanka with a target carved in its trunk"

"It was impossible to suppose that people better initiated than he into his probable destiny would give themselves so light-heartedly to trifles in the presence of a doomed man"

"The main trouble, the root of the future evil, was loss of faith in the value of one's own opinion"

"If it's so painful to love and absorb electricity, how much more painful it is to be woman, to be the electricity, to inspire love"
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great novel poorly translated., 26 Feb 2013
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This edition was my first copy of Dr. Zhivago, one which promised much with the "new translation" and all. Upon reading the novel, it quickly became apparent that the fact that the new translation was a close representation of Pasternak's original Russian manuscript was to become a hinderance on my ability enjoy the book, as sentences seemed clunky and nonsensical; this, I fear, is to do with Russian phrasing and the literal sense in which the book has, in this instance, been translated. I do, however, highly recommend the previous Vintage edition, which was translated by Max Hayward and Manya Harari, as this takes the original Russian and smooths the prose into flowing, well-structured English, which makes it an infinitely more enjoyable read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No masterpiece, 4 Nov 2012
By 
Andrewmac (beckenham, kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Hardly the masterpiece that one would expect from a Nobel prize-winning author. Unlike other great Russian novels, of which I have read quite a few, this is disjointed, confusing and profoundly irritating, written in an inelegant throwaway style and with characters who fail to excite much interest. Even in this new translation - by a couple who have done a wonderful job on War and Peace and others - the book fails to catch fire. I failed to finish it at the second attempt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 Sep 2014
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a wonderful edition of a very great book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Aug 2014
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Superb
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Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics)
Doctor Zhivago (Vintage Classics) by Boris Pasternak (Paperback - 1 Sep 2011)
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