(read in Russian)

Doctor Zhivago is a very difficult book to read, but I found finishing it is quite rewarding. The beginning is particularly dense with the author following a lot of characters in parallel. As expected, however, this turns out to be planned as most of these characters turn up in un-expected places in the later parts of the book.

The protagonist of this book is Dr. Yuri Zhivago. This man is torn - between two women, between his love for his motherland and the hate for the revolution, and between a desire to write and the need to work hard to sustain himself and the people around him during one of the most difficult periods in Russian history.

This period - during World War I and the Russian Revolution, is indeed terrifying. We as readers see through the book how life of intellectual people from Moscow, people considered "middle-class", were reduced to a pitiful existence in poverty and a constant fear of random arrest and execution. No wonder this book was forbidden in the communist Soviet Union - the rulers certainly wanted to paint the "great communist revolution" in brighter colors than the gloomy picture Pasternak presents.

Yuri Zhivago has aspirations to become a writer - this is presented beautifully as he looks at the work table (in a home he, Lara and Katia were hiding in) with awe and a sweet expectation to sit through the night with a candle, writing poetry and prose on his life views. Through this and other events (like Yori and Lara's touching love) the book shows how even in the times of terrible hardships, life has its little beautiful moments.

But let me return to what I said in the beginning of the review - this book is difficult. It uses a lot of metaphors, philosophic ramblings and the plot is not always easy to follow. It was difficult reading for me in the book's (and my) native Russian language, so I hope the English translations at least don't make it even worse.


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