Customer Reviews


44 Reviews
5 star:
 (27)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic study of revolutionary losers
Frequently considered one of the most sublime love stories ever told, Pasternak's masterpiece marked a significant moment in the history of Russian literature. Although rejected for publication, the furore around its censorship was the first step in liberating creativity from the clutches of the ideologues. This historical significance barely scrapes the iceberg in...
Published on 14 Mar 2007 by Sam J. Ruddock

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of revolution and war
First of all it needs to be said: this is not a love story. The problem is that television and film have made it so and this is reinforced by the publisher's blurb writer trying to cash in on this.

The characters find themselves drawn into the First World War, the February and October Russian Revolutions, the Russian Civil War and the Second World War. The main...
Published 17 months ago by Cole Davis


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic study of revolutionary losers, 14 Mar 2007
By 
Sam J. Ruddock (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
Frequently considered one of the most sublime love stories ever told, Pasternak's masterpiece marked a significant moment in the history of Russian literature. Although rejected for publication, the furore around its censorship was the first step in liberating creativity from the clutches of the ideologues. This historical significance barely scrapes the iceberg in comparison to the beauty of the events it portrays. In this tale of love and loss and struggle for survival during the Russian Revolution, Pasternak captures better than anyone else the supreme majesty of the simple things in life. The view from a study window, the freedom of living ones life free from compulsion and terror. But that is the lot of some periods of history and it is in how you cope with these strains which determine your life. Yes, this novel focuses on the upper classes and the erosion of the uncontested freedoms they once enjoyed, but it is so much more than that. This is a novel about human freedom from compulsion, whether you are a millionaire or a pauper, the liberation of the human spirit should begin here and now, with this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into, but well worth the trouble!, 20 Jan 2006
This review is from: Dr Zhivago (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
When I first began reading "Dr Zhivago" I was disappointed by the pace of the narrative; the novel is not dedicated to romance but also to the political and military events of the Bolshevik Revolution, which can be heavy going at times. However, with perseverence the magic of the book begins to shine through, and I was captured by the vivid pictures Pasternak creates with his language and writing. This version (Everyman's Library Classics) is particularly good as it also includes Zhivago's poems, which are exempt from some versions. Overall this is a powerful novel of love and destruction, of war and peace, and of such a magnitude that it can ,at times, leave you breathless. I would recommend it to any fan of Russian literature, but also to anyone in search of a wonderful story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!!, 19 April 2011
By 
hypnobear (north yorkshire) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
It's pretty much all been said in other positive reviews - anyone expecting a love story and little else will be disappointed, but if you want to get a feel for Russia post Great War, read on...I particularly like the moral aspect of the book, and his struggle to make sense of a world that has changed irrevocably. If you have a passion for history (like me) try it - I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare novel, 30 Sep 2007
By 
Mr. D. Drabble "hello-operator" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
After reading famous books you often feel that whilst it was good, you can't quite understand why it has become so renowned. Perhaps it is because the idea is powerful but badly executed or perhaps has an incredible mood but the concept and importance are somewhat lacking. None of these feelings occur when reading Dr Zhivago, its artistry is superb, the dialogues and turns of phrase are often breathtaking in their subtle importance, beauty or both. This is a book that fully warrants its reputation, it is stripped of the idealism and runs almost like a political philosophy discourse at times in the development of ideas of equality, the human spirit and the paths to progress in society.

It is for this reason that I don't think the book deserves its reputation as a 'love story': it is certainly a human story with love becoming more important as a theme as the book continues, but the power of the context is such that one could say that it is a political book first and a romance second. However, such hierarchies are not applicable in a work such as Dr Zhivago, such is Pasternak's skill as a writer that the themes of the novel perfectly complement each other, he balances the issues of the history of the era, Yury's development as a person and the underlying current of the women in his life with almost orchestral skill. If Pasternak's aim was to create an illustration of the power, subtlety and synphonic nature of life, uncontrollable by 'men of action' then this is reflected in the structure and style of his prose.

The book had a great effect on me, its integrity was great and the whole book wonderfully honest. Each comment was razor blade sharp so I was often completely surprised that he was brave enough to write such things in Soviet Russia. He seems to have paid for his integrity with his life, echoing the life of his main character in this way and in many others. I would be unsurprised if Pasternak only wrote one novel on this scale; he seems to have put everything of himself into it.

The prose is not always pleasurable to read, it's even dull in places such as the chapter-long train journey. I also would have preferred a greater mix with descriptions and dialogues, there were few sections when the two were sufficiently mixed so that the reader has to often read very lengthy dialogues and intermitable (though often startlingly beautiful) descriptions. I experienced East of Eden by Steinbeck in a similar way: it was often not pleasurable so much as enlightening and a book that one should try to read at least one time in your life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Russian Epic, 5 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
This book requires more than time on the train to read it; it needs concentration and devotion. But the reward of reading it! The book is a beautiful and tragic tale of Russia with all its social upheavals and in the middle we have a heartbreaking love-story between two people caught in all the craziness of mankind. It is a wonderful comparison of historical events and changes and the fate of the small individual amidst these impersonal events. Lara and Yuri's impossibility to be together forever is obvious from the start even to them, but never does one stop hoping that somehow things will change and that there will be room in the world they inhabit for people like them. The novel explores Russian society in its most difficult times; the poverty, hunger, danger, the hopelessness of it all, yet the hope people still keep within themselves for a better future. The devotion of Strelnikov, Lara's husband, to his cause is an example of the desperate attempts of people to try and create something out of themselves, this world, to try and rise beyond the fragility of human experience. Yet the serenity and modesty with which some of the characters accept their fate is just as heartbreaking as the love-story. The things people live through, and still manage to have hope; this is amazing in the novel. Yuri's poems at the end of the book are beautiful also.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually a good translation, 27 July 2013
By 
Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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 think this is actually better than the contemporary standard. My daughter and I did a book club reading and she read with more difficulty the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. We compared a number of passages and invariably both agreed that this old Fontana translation is better. Pevear and Volokhonsky have become very popular - fashionable - they almost dominate Russian translation today. But there is a kind of stiffness sometimes about their translation which does not help. The book has a basic list of characters but an index of key pages where you can remind yourself of who they are would have been useful. Two very important characters for example appear after a gap of hundreds of pages.Penguin publish a guide online to support book clubs or teachers and it also contains a chapter by chapter synopsis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wandering, fascinating book, 12 Dec 2006
By 
Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw (Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
Firstly, this is not "One of the greatest love stories ever told" as the cover proclaims: the love story is a small and incidental part of the story, and doesn't begin until 250 pages in.

What this is is a fascinating insight into the history of Russia through the last century's revolutions, told through the experiences of Zhivago and others. The structure is particularly interesting - we skip through the years extremely quickly, and between characters you'd be forgiven for not recognising. But this is part of its charm, and in many ways replicates the peripatetic nature of the revolution years as characters wander from town to village in search of food and shelter.

In many ways it reminds me of Primo Levi's 'The Truce', his account of what happened after he was liberated from a concentration camp at the end of WWII and likewise wandered across Eastern Europe with other refugees. It's the story of what happens to those who experience history, after the history books have moved on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `But life is never a material, a substance to be moulded.', 4 Mar 2011
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
The novel opens with the burial of Yury Zhivago's mother in 1901 when he is still a young boy. Yury is raised by his Uncle Kolya, studies medicine at the university in Moscow, meets Tonya, marries and has a son. Yury becomes a medical officer in the army and is stationed in a small town. He meets Lara and is captivated by her, but he returns to his wife and son in Moscow. Yury and his family decide to move east to Varyniko, an estate once owned by Tonya's grandfather but now being worked as a collective. The journey is long and difficult, but once there life continues: food can be grown, wood can be obtained. Yury goes to the nearest city, Yuryatin, to use the library. There, he sees Lara and they begin an affair which lasts until Yury decides to break off contact and confess all to his wife. On his way, he is captured by the partisan army, which requires a medical officer.

`Their days were counted, and these days were running out before his eyes.'

Yury is forced to remain with the army until the end of the war between the Tsarist Whites and the Communist Reds. When he leaves, he returns to Yuryatin where he finds Lara. Yury's family has been exiled to Paris. After several months, Yury and Lara go to Varykino to hide. Yury tricks Lara into taking her daughter and leaving, while he remains at Varykino for a while.
Yury returns to Moscow and finds work. He begins living with Marina, the daughter of a family friend. Yury finds a new job but while travelling to work he dies of a heart attack. Lara comes to the funeral and asks Yury's half-brother, a lawyer, if there is any way to track the location of a child given away to strangers. Years later, Misha and Nicky are fighting in World War II and encounter a laundry-girl, Tanya, who tells them her life story. Perhaps she is the daughter of Lara and Yury?

So, there is the life and death of Dr Yury Zhivago, a doctor and poet whose life reflected the turmoil of Russia in the early twentieth century. Was it simply fate that determined Yury Zhivago's destiny, or was he partly responsible? Was his life journey inevitable, or could he have influenced it more by making different choices?

Dr Zhivago is partly a love story but it is also a story about the plight of individuals in a world where collective actions and consequences are dominant. So many broken lives, so many lost people. There are a number of coincidences throughout the novel: some benign, others not. Dr Zhivago is a beautiful book to read, but a difficult book to fully appreciate. The most beautiful parts, for me, were in the descriptions of the landscape.

I found this novel deeply moving, and I think that I need to read it at least twice more in order to appreciate it more fully.

`Tightly closing eyelids.
Heights; and cloudy spheres.
Rivers. Waters. Boulders;
Centuries and years.' (From Fairy-Tale: Zhivago's poems)

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of revolution and war, 3 Mar 2013
By 
Cole Davis (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
First of all it needs to be said: this is not a love story. The problem is that television and film have made it so and this is reinforced by the publisher's blurb writer trying to cash in on this.

The characters find themselves drawn into the First World War, the February and October Russian Revolutions, the Russian Civil War and the Second World War. The main themes of the book are how families become torn apart and distorted by the demands of fighting and of Communist Party discipline; in the latter case we see versions of Doublethink as well as a deadening of individuals' critical consciences.

This novel has moments of sporadic brilliance but is patchy and not particularly strong in any one of the things it tries to do. As for the love affairs, well, perhaps I'm being a little unfair, but old Z seems to form a deep loving relationship with each woman he is in proximity with. If that's material for a love story, well all right, but then a variety of porn movies could also be sold with this description. Certainly there is little subtlety to the relationships; well not that I can see, although some readers attribute this to the translation.

Other books on the civil war: try Sholokhov's And Quiet Flows the Don and Bulgakov's White Guard.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditation on the Revolution, 5 Sep 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (Paperback)
This is at the very least, a wonderful novel.

The film tells the story of the love affair, but in the novel the love affair is set against the backdrop of two revolutions, the first world war, the civil war, the new economic plan etc etc. There is very little of this in the film.

The novel is a meditation on the decades of continual upheaval and violence, on love, religion, politics and the meaning of life. In most novels this would be pretentious and/or dull, but this is the Russian novel we are talking about.

Zhivago has the characteristic I remember from Dostoevsky of the novelist thinking out loud, as if writing it was his therapy, his processing the revolution.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Dr Zhivago (Everyman's Library Classics)
Dr Zhivago (Everyman's Library Classics) by Boris Pasternak (Hardcover - 26 Sep 1991)
9.09
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews