Sometimes a story has the ability to teach us about a country, an uprising, a revolution. Dr. Zhivago is one such book by Boris Pasternak, that takes you on a journey through the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century.
The story about the publishing of Dr. Zhivago is in itself worthy of a novel of its own! The Russian government didn’t approve of the novel, due to which it had to be published in Italy. Then it went on to win the Nobel Prize, after which the author got letters threatening to kick him out of the country if he accepted it!
And it’s not what happened outside the book, the book itself has enough drama in it! The story follows the life of Yuri Zhivago, a little Russian boy who is orphaned and who then grows up to become a physician and writer. Yuri’s life undergoes several changes, just like the Russian empire. The story includes at least two generations, with many, many characters. You might need a pen and paper to keep track of who’s who!
Pasternak has a lot of rich details in his story. Yuri, like the others in the story, yearns to find true love and companionship but the unrest in his country makes matters complicated. The story is also about human nature – both the light and the darkness. Yuri is clearly the main character, but it’s hard to call him a hero. He’s just a regular man, searching for something that eludes him.
Dr. Zhivago does need a bit of effort to read, but it’s completely worth it. You get transported to the Russia of the early 1900s, and can feel the unrest – both around the people in the book and inside their hearts.