Orphaned as a small boy after his father committed suicide and his mother died, Yurii Zhivago was left to the guardianship of his uncle, Nikolai, who was a free-thinking individual who previously had been in the priesthood.
As Yurii grew older, Uncle Nikolai left to live in Petersburg, leaving Yurii to live with other relatives, the Gromekos. Their daughter, Tonia, and Yurii became friends, and, along with Yurii's classmate, Misha, went into adolescence and early adulthood as a happy trio.
In the background, historical events were in progress. Revolution was building and growing ever closer to their own horizons. Such factors brought Mme. Guishar to live in Moscow with her daughter, Lara. Her lover, an attorney named Komarovsky had been a friend of her late husband, and he set his eyes on only on the widow, but upon Lara as well.
Yurii studied medicine and felt a huge devotion to the family who brought him up. He became engaged and eventually married Tonia, largely to fulfill her mother's dying wish.
Over time, rumors and revolutionary forces mounted. Geographic locations changed frequently for various characters within the novel, putting distance between Yurii and Tonia, as well as allowing Yurii and Lara chance for an illicit love affair. Forces continually beyond these characters' control intervened, causing actions and reactions, as they do in any war-torn environment, no matter the setting or era.
The novel becomes a glorious celebration of the human spirit and of the will to survive, endure and give way to new worlds, new lives and future generations.
Author Boris Pasternak lived from 1890 to 1960. He was a Russian writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, but declined it for personal and political reasons. He had been best known in Russia as a translator of Shakespearean works from English into Russian.
Highly sensitive and aware of the political ideologies and unrest in prerevolutionary Russia, he was able to bring to a worldwide audience some of the complex issues involved in his country.
Through his deeply complex characters, his superb descriptions and his depth of understanding, he has enabled millions of readers to understand the human condition, especially during times of severe adversity and persecution.
Boris Pasternak’s widely acclaimed novel comes gloriously to life in a magnificent new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the award-winning translators of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and to whom, The New York Review of Books declared, “the English-speaking world is indebted.”
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First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy—the novel was banned in the Soviet Union until 1988, and Pasternak declined the Nobel Prize a year later under intense pressure from Soviet authorities—Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet-physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago’s love for the tender and beautiful Lara: pursued, found, and lost again, Lara is the very embodiment of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times.
Stunningly rendered in the spirit of Pasternak’s original—resurrecting his style, rhythms, voicings, and tone—and including an introduction, textual annotations, and a translators’ note, this edition of Doctor Zhivago is destined to become the definitive English translation of our time.