Synopses & Reviews
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.”
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.
About the Author
Boris Pasternak, poet, translator, and novelist, was born in Moscow, Russia in 1890. The son of the celebrated painter Leonid Pasternak and the concert pianist Rosa Kaufman, Pasternak was greatly influenced by the composer Alexander Scriabin and Leo Tolstoy, both family friends. During the purges of the 1930s, Pasternak came under severe critical attack and, unable to publish his own poetry, devoted himself to translating classic works by Goethe, Shakespeare, and others. After Stalin’s death Pasternak began writing Doctor Zhivago, his masterpiece in the great tradition of the Russian epic. The life of the physician and poet Yuri Zhivago, like Pasternak’s own, is closely identified with the cataclysmic upheavals of 20th century Russia. The novel’s insights into Communist society offended officials in the USSR, where it was subsequently denied publication. Despite serious efforts to repress it, the novel was first published in Italy in 1957 and soon became the object of international acclaim, spending 26 weeks on at the top of The New York Times bestseller list. In 1958, Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but, facing threats from Soviet authorities, refused the prize. Expelled from the Soviet Writers Union, he lived in virtual exile in an artists’ community near Moscow until his death in 1960.