Doctor Zhivago is not only a memorable love story, it also shows how the Soviet revolution impacted on its citizens. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, but the USSR made him renounce it because the authorities didn’t like his criticisms. Reading this book has certainly made me more aware of how difficult life must have been for ordinary people in the period Pasternak writes about.
The story begins with the death of Yura Zhivago’s mother, deserted long ago by his wastrel father. He had been rich, but had squandered it away with gambling and so the orphaned Yura went to live with his Uncle Kolya. (Like all Russian novels, this one confuses Western readers with names: all the characters have three or four but I’m sticking with the short and easy ones.) He is a thoughtful and rather dreamy boy who seems to stumble from one disaster to another, plodding through life with determination and courage, but very little initiative. It seems quite clear that initiative was a bad idea in Soviet Russia.
I read and blogged this book on April 4th, 2009.
To see the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/doctor-zhivago-by-boris-pasternak/