Book Reviews

Doctor Zhivago: In Search of Identity & Significance

Boris Pasternak wrote the novel Doctor Zhivago. It is set in early twentieth-century Russia, against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and World War I. The plot revolves around Yuri Zhivago, a Russian poet and physician who tries to discover his identity and significance in a world torn apart by political and personal strife.

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian poet, novelist, composer, and literary translator who lived from 1890 to 1960. He was born into a rich Jewish family in Moscow, Russia. Leonid Pasternak, his father, was a well-known artist and art professor, and Rosa Kaufman, his mother, was a concert pianist.

Pasternak began composing poetry as a child. He was also a gifted musician who spent several years studying composition at the Moscow Conservatory. He eventually decided to concentrate on writing.

My Sister, Life., Pasternak's first book of poems, was released in 1922. It was an instant hit, establishing Pasternak as one of the foremost poets of his generation. He went on to produce a number of further poetry collections, including Second Birth (1932) and Terrestrial Expanse (1945).

Pasternak also wrote novels, short tales, and essays in addition to poetry. Doctor Zhivago, his most renowned novel, was released in 1957. It is a sprawling epic that follows a young doctor through the Russian Revolution and the Civil War. The novel was prohibited in the Soviet Union, but it received widespread distribution in the West, earning Pasternak the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958.

Pasternak was a complicated and contentious figure. He was a gifted writer, but he was also a man who frequently clashed with the Soviet authorities. He was chastised for his religious convictions as well as his refusal to write in the socialist realist style.

Despite the criticism, Pasternak is regarded as one of the twentieth century's most prominent Russian writers. His art is distinguished by its lyricism, creativity, and profound humanity.

Let us talk about his monumental and Nobel Prize winner book, Doctor Zivago. 

The book is structured into five sections, each focusing on a different facet of Zhivago's life. "Childhood and Youth," the opening section, introduces reader  to Zhivago and his family. The second installment, "War," covers Zhivago's adventures during World War I. The third section, "Revolution," details the Russian Revolution and Civil War. "Exile," the fourth installment, follows Zhivago and his family as they attempt to rebuild their lives in exile. "Epilogue," the fifth and final act, takes place many years after Zhivago's death and concentrates on the rediscovery of his poetry.

The major characters of the novel are: 

Yuri Zhivago: Zhivago is the protagonist of the novel. He is a complex and multifaceted character. He is a talented doctor and poet, but he is also a man of deep moral conscience and compassion. He is caught in the middle of the Russian Revolution, and he struggles to maintain his humanity in a world that is increasingly dehumanizing.

Lara Antipova: Lara is the love of Zhivago's life. She is a beautiful and intelligent woman, but she is also deeply troubled. She has been married twice, and she has lost both of her husbands in the war. She is also struggling to come to terms with her own political beliefs.

Tonya Gromeko: Tonya is Zhivago's first wife. She is a kind and loving woman, but she is also naive and idealistic. She is unable to understand the complexities of Zhivago's character, and she eventually leaves him for another man.

The narrative flows smoothly from one occurrence to the next thanks to a large number of transition words. Furthermore, the liberal use of active voice adds brightness and intensity to the storyline. The story explores the complexity of love, devotion, and human resilience through a wide range of issues.

One of the qualities that distinguish Doctor Zhivago is his superb portrayal of the human condition. Zhivago's journey puts him through a succession of personal struggles and tribulations that match societal difficulties. His experiences are a reflection of the turbulent times he lives in.

In his search for meaning and purpose, Zhivago meets a variety of personalities that influence his outlook on life. Lara Antipova, a young lady driven by her own sense of injustice and longing, becomes his muse and obsession at the same time. Their passionate but often tragic romance exemplifies the tremendous emotions felt by people caught up in the maelstrom of war and revolution.

The novel also investigates the impact of political beliefs on the lives of regular people. Pasternak, with a strong eye for detail, throws light on the brutal reality that Russians suffered under both the Tsarist and Bolshevik administrations. The masses' discontent is apparent, as they yearn for stability and fairness in an increasingly tyrannical system.

Doctor Zhivago unfolds against this backdrop, providing a vivid portrayal of the Russian Revolution. Pasternak powerfully depicts the emergence of Bolshevik rule, the accompanying civil war, and its devastation. With precise, vivid language, the novel conveys the tremendous transformations in society and the ensuing pandemonium.

A remarkable variety of phrase forms, ranging from brief, abrupt bursts of action to lengthy, meandering meditations, distinguish Doctor Zhivago's narrative style. This variety not only keeps the reader interested, but it also reflects the unpredictability of life in these chaotic times. It conveys a sense of perpetual movement and change, reflecting the rapidity with which events occur.

Themes of love, loyalty, and resilience resound strongly throughout this broad story. Zhivago's unshakeable faith in the power of love sees him through even the most difficult situations. Despite the difficulties and losses, he suffers, he never loses confidence in the transformational power of love.

The novel features a diverse cast of characters, each expressing a unique facet of the human experience. Their interactions and relationships show the universal difficulties that people experience during times of change. Despite the challenges piled against them, these characters' tenacity stands as a tribute to the indomitable human spirit.

Zhivago embarks on a very personal and introspective trip while early twentieth-century Russia grapples with its own identity crisis. He seeks solace in poetry, using it as a means of expressing his thoughts and feelings in a world where those in positions of authority use silence as a weapon. Zhivago captures the core of the human experience in his poetry and makes an indelible impression on literature.

Pasternak explores a variety of major subjects throughout the story, including:

Individual versus State: Zhivago represents the individual trying to keep his humanity in a world dominated by the state. He is continuously compelled to choose between his own personal convictions and the demands of the state.

Love and Loss: Zhivago suffers from both tremendous love and tragic loss in his life. He has deep feelings for two separate women, Lara and Tonya, but his feelings for Lara are eventually unsatisfied. During the conflict and the revolution, he also loses his family and friends.

The Power of Art: Zhivago's poetry provides him with consolation and significance. His poetry allows him to communicate his deepest ideas and feelings while also connecting with others.

Revolutionary Nature: Pasternak does not romanticize the Russian Revolution. He demonstrates how the revolution can have both positive and negative consequences, and he delves into the complex reasons of those who take part in it.

The Significance of Faith: Throughout the story, even in the darkest of moments, Zhivago maintains his faith in God. His faith gives him hope and significance in his life.

In 1965, David Lean and Robert Bolt directed and wrote an epic historical romance film based on Doctor Zhivago.  Omar Sharif plays Yuri Zhivago, and Julie Christie plays his love interest Lara Antipova, whereas Geraldine Chaplin plays Tonya Gremeko, Zhivago's first wife. 

Doctor Zhivago is a visually gorgeous and sweeping picture that depicts a compelling story of love, grief, and redemption. It is widely regarded as one of the most adored and admired films of all time.

The movie was both critically and commercially successful, grossing more than $100 million at the box office. It received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Sharif. It received five nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, and Best Sound.

Another very interesting factor of this film is the musical score based on "Lara's Theme", composed by Maurice Jarre. The theme is a simple but beautiful melody that is played on a variety of instruments, including the piano, violin, and orchestra. It is used throughout the film to represent Lara's love for Yuri Zhivago. The musical score helps to create the atmosphere of the film and to convey the emotions of the characters. It is also a beautiful and moving piece of music in its own right. In addition to the film score, there have been a number of other pieces of music based on "Lara's Theme". These include songs, instrumental pieces, and even a ballet. The theme has also been used in a number of commercials and television shows. "Lara's Theme" is a truly timeless piece of music. It is a beautiful and moving melody that has captured the hearts of people all over the world. It is a testament to the power of music to evoke emotion and to connect people on a deep level.

Doctor Zhivago is a must-see for everyone who likes big historical dramas or romantic comedies. It is a timeless classic that will be enjoyed by generations to come. 

Doctor Zhivago explores the complex character of Pasternak's masterpiece by painting a striking vision of a nation in turmoil and a protagonist seeking to find his place within it. It dives into the themes, characters, and historical background of the novel, making an indelible mark on literary history.

To conclude, here is a quote from Pasternak's Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"Art is the highest form of hope."

This quote speaks to Pasternak's belief in the power of art to uplift and inspire humanity. His work is a testament to this power, and it continues to resonate with readers today.

If any reader of this article would like to try “Lara's Theme", on Accoustic Guitar, here are the chords and the method: 


More by :  Priyanka Bendigiri

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