Romantic novels vary so much in that many simply involve frivolous tales of romantic involvement with little substance. Doctor Zhivago however is a story of epic proportions set midst the backdrop of the Russian Revolution making this dramatic romantic tale one of intrigue and mystery along with love, making it nothing short of a masterpiece. Here we take a look at the novel in a little more depth.
Doctor Zhivago is the story of a poet/physician and four other young characters set during the Russian Revolution that readers will find utterly spell binding. The plot is very intricate and involved requiring concentration when reading with many characters having the same or similar names. The story begins in 1901 and carries through to 1943. This epic book is one of the all-time classics written by Nobel Prize winning author Boris Pasternak.
The five characters are Yuri Zhivago an idealistic writer and doctor, his wife Tonya, a lawyer, Nurse Lara who is Yuri’s lover, her husband Pasha who is a soldier and Yuri’s philosopher friend Misha. The premier character of the book is Yuri an idealistic charismatic character who falls in love with Lara and struggles with his passion for her as he does still love his wife Tonya. Lara of course is married to Pasha and while Yuri and Lara feel destined to be together their love for their families makes their struggle all the more intense.
The Russian Revolution plays its part as does the First World War in this love affair as the couple are parted, then meet again and are parted once more at intervals throughout the story. The author places the reader at the heart of what it was like to live during these troubled years in Russia and how any sort of security for the characters could be snatched away at a minute’s notice, as it was on many occasions throughout the book.
There are also many political and philosophical discussions between characters offering an insight into what people who lived through the revolution must have thought. The story inevitably has a sad ending but as with Wuthering Heights death seems to transcend their difficulties and true love conquers all.
Why is Doctor Zhivago a Timeless Classic?
Doctor Zhivago is no flimsy romance novel it has all the hallmarks of a truly unforgettable love story that endures through war, revolution, separation and the passage of time. The story behind the characters is very involved bringing factual history into play too making events seem utterly believable. The books characters also come from all walks of life ensuring we are introduced to the elevated and the lowly in society plus how they functioned.
Boris Pasternak winning the Nobel Prize also catapulted his work into the limelight even more making Doctor Zhivago a book everyone wanted and still wants to read. It tells of the Russian Revolution and its timeline accurately and was not published in Russia until 1987. The book was considered to speak out against the communist regime and Pasternak was unable to leave Russia to receive his Nobel Prize.
Doctor Zhivago is not an easy read but is a read well worth embarking on. All these factors contribute to why Doctor Zhivago has been such a literary success, while the book was also made into an Oscar winning movie in 1965 (the film won seven Oscars) and starred Omar Sharif as Yuri. Readers who are yet to have the pleasure of reading Doctor Zhivago may buy the book from Amazon.
Many readers agree that Pasternak based many of this wonderfully idealistic character’ traits on his own. Yuri is a poet, a writer, a doctor who is a humanitarian viewing that justice is for all. He is a deeply emotional character who knows right from wrong and struggles with doing the right thing from the beginning of his love affair through to the end.
Yuri is a sympathetic character that is brave and wholly likeable even though we know he is doing wrong in terms of betraying his wife yet we still remain on his side as the poetic love affair draws us in more and more. How can he choose between the mother of his children who was his first love and his new love whom he surely has an abiding passion for?
Lara is Yuri’s lover. She is married to Pasha a soldier who leaves her in order to become a revolutionary and ultimately commits suicide.
Pasha and Lara met at school and are childhood sweethearts who marry have a daughter but are not happy in their relationship. Pasha volunteers for the army and leaves but is soon captured by the Germans. He later becomes Bolshevik Commissar.
Misha is the son of a Jewish lawyer. Misha has an unhappy childhood and for a spell lives with the Gromeko family as does Yuri. Misha helps preserve Yuri’s writing following his death.
Tonia is the daughter of Alexander Gromeko and is the same age as Yuri. When Tonia’s mother is dying her parting wish is for Yuri and Tonia to marry which of course they do as they are in love. Tonia is a devoted wife and mother making it impossible for Yuri to leave her.