Dr. Zhivago notes


</i> CHAPTER 9 –  Yurii is writing in his notebooks – I think he’s really happy.   He talks about the earth and his philosophy and religion and art and

9.1 <i>What a summer, what a summer!

This is magic indeed.
And how, I ask you, did it come
Just like that, out of the blue?’

What happiness, to work from dawn to dusk for your family and for yourself, to build a roof over their heads, to till the soil to feed them, to create your own world, like Robinson Crusoe, in imitation of the Creator of the universe, and, as your own mother did, to give birth to yourself, time and again.</i>

9.2   <i>  “We read and reread War and Peace, Evgenii Onegin and Pushkin’s other poems, and Russian translations of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, and Kleist’s short stories.”    </i>  (why them – and Pushkin repeatedly?)

9.5  <i>  “My headache gets worse and worse. I slept badly. Had a muddled dream of the kind you forget as you wake up. All that remained in my memory was the part that woke me up. It was a woman’s voice, I heard it in my dream, sounding in the air. I remembered it and kept hearing it in my mind and going through the list of our women friends—I tried to think of someone who spoke in that deep, soft, husky voice. It didn’t belong to any of them. I thought it might be Tonia’s, and that I had become so used to her that I no longer heard the tone of her voice. I tried to forget that she was my wife and to become sufficiently detached to find out. But it wasn’t her voice either. It remains a mystery.”</i> Who’s voice is it?

Evgraf, Yurii’s half brother,  visits

9.9  <i>  “For the second time he has burst into my life as my good genius, my rescuer, resolving all my difficulties. Perhaps in every life there has to be, in addition to the other protagonists, a secret, unknown force, an almost symbolic figure who comes unsummoned to the rescue, and perhaps in mine Evgraf, my brother, plays the part of this hidden benefactor?”</i>

9.9 –  Yurii stops writing –  why?

9.13 –  Laura in the library:  <i>  On her order slips, which stuck out from between the pages of the books, was her address. Yurii Andreievich took it down, surprised by its oddity: “Merchant Street, opposite the house with sculptures.” He asked another reader what this meant and was told that the expression “house with sculptures” was as familiar in Yuriatin as in Moscow the designation of a street by the name of its parish church, or the phrase “the Five Corners” in Petersburg.</i>

Did she leave that note like that deliberately for Yurii?   I think so – is it out of character?  –  ??

He goes to see her – they talk of Strelnikov and one of the most important lines in the book – to me – is here:

9.14    <i> <b>  Revolutionaries who take the law into their own hands are horrifying not because they are criminals, but because they are like machines that have got out of control, like runaway trains.</b> </i>

And Lara confesses – <i> “And now, since you have been so frank with me, I’ll be frank with you. The Strelnikov you met is my husband, Pasha, Pavel Pavlovich Antipov, whom I went to look for at the front and in whose death I so rightly refused to believe.” </i>  Yurii is not surprised.

Lara:  <i>   “It was he who took Yuriatin, and shelled us, knowing that we were here, and never once tried to find out if we were alive, in order not to reveal his identity. Of course it was his duty. If he had asked me I would have told him to do just that. You might say that my being safe and the Town Soviet’s giving me a reasonable place to live in shows that he is secretly looking after us. But that he should actually have been here and resisted the temptation to have a look at us—it’s inconceivable! It’s beyond me, it isn’t natural, it’s like the ancient Roman virtue, one of those newfangled ideas. But I mustn’t let myself be influenced by your way of looking at things. You and I don’t really think alike. When it comes to the intangible, the marginal choices, we understand each other. But when it comes to the big issues, to one’s outlook on life, we don’t see eye to eye. But to go back to Strelnikov. “</i>


<i> “Two months had now elapsed since the day when, instead of going home from Yuriatin, he spent the night at Larisa Feodorovna’s and told his family that he had been kept on business and had stayed at Samdeviatov’s inn. He had long been calling her Lara and addressing her as “thou,” though she still called him Zhivago. Yurii Andreievich was betraying Tonia, and his involvement was becoming ever more serious. This was shocking, impossible.”</i>

Seems a bit abrupt, no?

9.16 –

<i>“What next?” he had sometimes wondered, and hoped wretchedly for some impossible, unexpected circumstance to solve his problem for him.</i>

***** Do you notice Yurii just drifting?  Has he made any decisions yet?  Nothing as far as I know.  He seems to have drifted into poetry, doctoring, marriage to Tonya,  Yuriatin,  and an affair with Lara –   Now he makes up his mind to tell Tonya all,  then postpones it –  he’s still not doing anything.

<i>  Suddenly Yurii Andreievich was struck by a very simple thought. What was the hurry? He would not go back on his promise to himself; the confession would be made, but who had said that it must be made that day? He had not said anything to Tonia yet, it was not too late to put it off till his next trip to town. </i>

And he is captured by the Reds – Liberius is the chief – Liberius is the son of  the Mikulitsyns,  the couple who are putting the Zhivago family up on their farm.


10.1  is  about as much history” as we get here for awhile –  the history of the road and the Soviet attempt and now the Siberians hold it  under Admiral Kolchak.

This is the week of Lent – of resurrection and rebirth

10.3   <i>   Stunted apple trees, covered with buds, reached miraculously across the garden fences. Drops of water fell from them, and their arrhythmic drumming on the wooden pavements could be heard throughout the town.</i>

We have more than 4 sections devoted to Galuzina’s trip to the church and a brief conversation with her daughter  – why? What does she represent – her thoughts?

<i> It was the night of Maundy Thursday… A quarter of an hour later, steps sounded on the wooden sidewalk coming from the church. This was Galuzina, the grocer’s wife, going home, although the service had only begun.</i>

And all of Chapter 10 seems to be about the “Whites” and their struggles –  how are they different from the Reds?

CHAPTER 11   The Forest Brotherhood

Who are the Forest Brotherhood?

The term Forest Brothers first came into use in the Baltic region during the chaotic Russian Revolution of 1905. Varying sources refer to forest brothers of this era either as peasants revolting[1] or as schoolteachers seeking refuge in the forest.[2]


11.1 –  <i>  The partisan force was constantly on the move, and Yurii Andreievich moved with it. It did not remain apart from the local population through whose lands and settlements it passed; it mixed and indeed dissolved in it.</i>

Rather fluid movement there, eh?   Partisans blending in to the reality of the Siberian population.  They are a part of it.  There are several sections of historical type narrative here – what are some things you pick up on?   I think Pasternak wrote much of this from memory and from imagination and from the tales of his friends and acquaintances.  Is that a good way to write history or is is more of a memoir?


11. 2  <i>  It was in these circumstances, at Pazhinsk, that the doctor met Pelagia Tiagunova, who had been his fellow passenger in the train from Moscow.</i>

Remember her from the “Trip to the Urals”?   She and Vasis took off together.  And it turns out that we met her sister,  Galuzina,  in the prior chapter – (“more than a year” ago).

11.4   <i> But alas!—however carefully he tried to avoid hitting anyone, every now and then a young attacker would move into his firing line at the crucial moment. Two of them he wounded, and one who fell near the tree seemed to have lost his life.

<i> An amulet hung by a silk cord from the dead man’s neck. The doctor took it off. It contained a sheet of paper, worn and rotted at the folds, sewn into a piece of cloth.

<i>  Written on the paper, which almost fell apart in the doctor’s fingers when he unfolded it, were excerpts from the Ninety-first Psalm with such changes in the wording as often creep into popular prayers through much repetition, making them deviate increasingly from the original. The Church Slavonic text was transliterated into Russian script.

The text was believed to be miraculous and a protection against bullets. It had been worn as a talisman by soldiers in the last imperialist war. Decades later prisoners were to sew it into their clothes and mutter its words in jail when they were summoned at night for interrogation.

<i> The bullet had been stopped by his mother’s amulet and this had saved him. But what was to be done with this unconscious man now?

11.5    <i> All you say about what the soldier’s attitude should be to the people’s army, to his fellows, to the weak, the helpless, to women, and about honor and chastity—it’s almost the teaching of the Dukhobors. All that kind of Tolstoyism I know by heart. My own adolescence was full of those aspirations toward a better life. How could I laugh at such things?

<i>   “But, first, the idea of social betterment as it is understood since the October revolution doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm. Second, it is so far from being put into practice, and the mere talk about it has cost such a sea of blood, that I’m not sure that the end justifies the means. And last—and this is the main thing—when I hear people speak of reshaping life it makes me lose my self-control and I fall into despair.

later –

<i> “There is a rumor going around that some unknown force—not Russian—has raided and sacked Varykino. Kamennodvorsky doesn’t deny it. They say your people and mine managed to escape. Apparently some sort of mythical slit-eyed warriors in padded coats and fur hats crossed the Rynva in a terrible frost, and calmly shot every living soul in the place and vanished as mysteriously as they had come. Do you know anything about it? Is it true?”


the court-martial of the vodka brewers;

treatment of mental illnesses. (Pamphil)

How is the killing treated – Pamphil has killed many but Yurii has killed one.  Are they both mad?

<i> In those early days, men like Pamphil Palykh, who needed no encouragement to hate intellectuals, officers, and gentry with a savage hatred, were regarded by enthusiastic left-wing intellectuals as a rare find and greatly valued. Their inhumanity seemed a marvel of class-consciousness, their barbarism a model of proletarian firmness and revolutionary instinct. By such qualities Pamphil had established his fame, and he was held in great esteem by partisan chiefs and Party leaders.</i>

but now Pamphil is afraid of revenge and on his wife and children, too.



12.1     one of the places Yurii finds is a gigantic forest

<i> All along its edge it was locked in by granite boulders standing on end, looking like the flat stones of prehistoric dolmens. When Yurii Andreievich came across this stony platform for the first time, he was ready to swear that it was not of natural origin, that it bore the mark of human hands. It might well have been the site of an ancient pagan shrine, where prayers and sacrifices had once been offered by unknown worshippers. </i>

<i> It was here that the death sentence against eleven ringleaders of the conspiracy and two male nurses condemned for brewing vodka was executed one cold, sullen morning.</i>

The death sentence had been all but eliminated in Russia for  well over 100 years until the Russian Revolution made it “necessary” again.  This execution of the vodka brewers must have been horrendous.

12.6   <i> Kubarikha, his “rival” as he jokingly called the cattle healer. </i>  This “rival,”  a shaman, imo,  heals Mrs. Pamphil’s cow.  She sings and laughs – She speaks,  Yurii listens.    Yurii thinks of ancient rituals.

He thinks he recognizes some words from an ancient Chronicle,  Novgorod or Epatievo –  <i>  Why, then, had he succumbed so completely to the tyranny of the legend? Why did this gibberish, this absurd talk, impress him as if it were describing real events?  </i>

Can we answer this?  Why has he succumbed?

<i>    Lara’s left shoulder had been cut open. Like a key turning in the lock of a secret safe, the sword unlocked her shoulder blade and the secrets she had kept in the depths of her soul came to light. Unfamiliar towns, streets, rooms, countrysides unrolled like a film, whole reels of film, unfolding, discharging their contents.

<i>    How he loved her! How beautiful she was! In exactly the way “he had always thought and dreamed and wanted!

“Go along now,” said the witch to Agafia. “I have charmed your cow, she will get well. Pray to the Mother of God, who is the abode of light and the book of the living word.”

The words and charms of the witch and thoughts of Lara are woven together in this section –  why???


<i> They stood around a bleeding stump of a man lying on the ground. His right arm and left leg had been chopped off. It was inconceivable how, with his remaining arm and leg, he had crawled to the camp. The chopped-off arm and leg were tied in terrible bleeding chunks onto his back with a small wooden board attached to them; a long inscription on it said, with many words of abuse, that the atrocity was in reprisal for similar atrocities perpetrated by such and such a Red unit—a unit that had no connection with the Forest Brotherhood. It also said that the same treatment would be meted out to all the partisans unless, by a given date, they submitted and gave up their arms to the representatives of General Vitsyn’s army corps.</i>


Just after thinking of Tonia and attempting an escape Yurii goes to a frozen Rowan tree he sees.

<i>The footpath brought the doctor to the foot of the rowan tree, whose name he had just spoken. It was half in snow, half in frozen leaves and berries, and it held out two white branches toward him. He remembered Lara’s strong white arms and seized the branches and pulled them to him. As if in answer, the tree shook snow all over him. He muttered without realizing what he was saying, and completely beside himself: “I’ll find you, my beauty, my love, my rowan tree, my own flesh and blood.”</i>

What is the meaning of that tree?  Is he,  like so many others,  mad?  Or is this magical?   Another example of counterpoint?


In these chapters Yurii is trapped,  captive without walls.  He has been unable to escape.

One can see how the Soviet censors wouldn’t have been pleased at all with these passages, as Pasternak painted the revolutionary army in anything but heroic terms.  Instead, he painted a bleak portrait of chaos, confusion and ever diminishing morale until Kolchak’s army is finally defeated and these red factions finally emerged from their forest hideouts.


Pasternak uses these chapters to highlight the ravages of the civil war, noting the towns that were under siege, in particular Holycross.  All these towns along “The Highway” found themselves torn between the Red and White Armies, with split allegiances.  Many had been burned by one faction or the other, and morale among the armies was low as they came across the burnt-out remnants of their former villages.


Opposite the House of Sculptures

Yuri has apparently escaped and walked to Yuriatin where the Reds have recently re-taken control. For most of the way he followed the railroad track but it

<i> … was out of use, neglected and covered with snow. He had passed train after train abandoned by the Whites; they stood idle, stopped by the defeat of Kolchak, by lack of fuel, and by snowdrifts. </i>

This is obviously not the train of progress touted by Tolstoy and Dickens.

And –  has Yurii finally decided to actually take some action on his own?   No longer just pulled along by the forces?


These scenes and incidents had the strangeness of the transcendental, as if they were snatches torn from lives on other planets that had somehow drifted to the earth. Only nature had remained true to history and appeared in the guise it assumed in modern art.

He finds the key and note left by Lara but she is nowhere in sight.

He goes back to look at the posters and signs on the House of Sculptures

What has changed since he was last in Yuriatin?  Does it even feel like the same city?  Does it feel more like Moscow now?

and then he feels dizzy and faints.

Goes up to Lara’s house.

13.4  It’s spring again –

He wants a shave and finds a woman to do it.   Another coincidence:

<i> “So that’s who she is,” Yurii Andreievich realized. “Liberius’s aunt, Mikulitsyn’s sister-in-law, the one who is a local legend, barber—seamstress—signal woman—Jack of all trades!” But he decided to say nothing so as not to give himself away.</i>

And he finds out that Tonya is in Moscow.


In Lara’s house but without Lara’s presence,  he’s  thinking of Tonya and then of Lara,   <i>  And why should Lara be expected to prefer his weakness and the dark, obscure, unrealistic language of his love? Did she need this confusion? Did she herself want to be what she was to him?

And what was she to him, as he had just put it? Oh, that question he could always answer.</i> And he rhapsodizes about Lara and the earth and she is their representative.

Is that a bit over the top for us?  Or do you like that poetic sensibility?

What is the answer to Yurii’s question –  what is Lara to Yurii?  Is she a lover or a muse or the springtime?

And the reverse of Lara’s note to Yurii tells him that Tonya is in Moscow – she’s had a baby girl.

13.8 –  Yurii is ill and dreaming – first of Moscow  and his family where his son is very ill

<i> Yet, with tears pouring down his face he kept hold of the handle of the locked door, shutting out the child, sacrificing him to a false notion of honor, in the name of his alleged duty to another woman, who was not the child’s mother and who might at any moment come into the room from another door.</i>

And then he dreamed other dreams –

<i>  … of a dark winter morning in a bustling Moscow street…  before the revolution.</i>

<i>  … of a big apartment with many windows, all on the same side of the house, probably no higher than the third story, with drawn curtains reaching to the floor.  Inside, people were lying about asleep in their clothes like travellers, and the rooms were untidy like a railway car, with half-eaten legs and wings of roast chicken and other remnants of food scattered about on greasy bits of newspaper. The shoes that the many friends, relatives, callers, and homeless people, all sheltering in the apartment, had removed for the night, were standing in pairs on the floor. The hostess, Lara, in a dressing gown tied hastily around her waist, moved swiftly and silently from room to room, hurrying about her chores, and he was following her step by step, muttering clumsy irrelevant explanations and generally making a nuisance of himself. But she no longer had a moment to give him and took no notice of his mutterings except for turning to him now and then with a tranquil, puzzled look or bursting into her inimitable, candid, silvery laughter. This was the only form of intimacy that remained between them. And how distant, cold, and compellingly attractive was this woman to whom he had sacrificed all he had, whom he had preferred to everything, and in comparison with whom everything seemed to him worthless! </i>

What does all this seem to indicate?

He wakes to find Lara caring for him.


12.11    They are both in danger from the Reds:

<i>“You’ll have to do something. Your father was a Siberian millionaire who committed suicide, your wife is the daughter of a local landowner and industrialist, you were with the partisans and you ran away. You can’t get around it—you left the ranks of the revolutionary army, you’re a deserter. Under no circumstances must you remain idle. I am not in a much better position myself. I’ll have to do something too. I’m living on a volcano as it is.” </i>

Laura due to Strelnikov’s being a non-party member who got very close to the top:

<i>  “It’s precisely because of him. I told you before that he has many enemies. Now that the Red Army is victorious those non-Party soldiers who got too near the top and knew too much are done for.  </i>

12.12 –   Lara tells Yurii that she was in Varykino when Tonya had the new baby,   that she stayed and cleaned the house,  that Samdeviatov helped her but that she

<i>   I am enormously in his debt, but if he gave me my weight in gold, if he gave his life for me, it wouldn’t bring me a step nearer to him. I have always disliked men of that kind, I have nothing whatever in common with them. These resourceful, self-confident, masterful characters—in practical things they are invaluable, but in matters of feeling I can think of nothing more horrible than all this impertinent, male complacency! It certainly isn’t my idea of life and love! More than that, morally Anfim reminds me of someone else, of someone infinitely more repulsive. It’s his fault that I’ve become what I am.”</i>

<i>  There’s something broken in me, there’s something broken in my whole life. I discovered life much too early, I was made to discover it, and I was made to see it from the very worst side—a cheap, distorted version of it—through the eyes of a self-assured, elderly parasite, who took advantage of everything and allowed himself whatever he fancied.”</i>

She’s been in her own prison of sorts.


And they remember and realize that Komarovsky has hurt them both – Lara’s mother and her own sexuality,  Yurii’s father’s suicide.


13.14  <i>  Instead of being natural and spontaneous as we had always been, we began to be idiotically pompous with each other. Something showy, artificial, forced, crept into our conversation—you felt you had to be clever in a certain way about certain world-important themes.   How could Pasha, who was so discriminating, so exacting with himself, who distinguished so unerringly between reality and appearance, how could he fail to notice the falsehood that had crept into our lives?</i>

“And at this point he made his fatal, terrible mistake. He mistook the spirit of the times, the social, universal evil, for a private and domestic one. He listened to our clichés, to our unnatural official tone, and he thought it was because he was second-rate, a nonentity, that we talked like this. </i>

Do you think that Pasternak is talking about something that happened in  many families here – they went to talking in jingos and slogans?


Does this whole section seem like it’s just a bit of Soviet Russian revisionist history?   The Soviets had their own version and her comes Pasternak looking at it through a different lens?

“It was then that untruth came down on our land of Russia. The main misfortune, the root of all the evil to come, was the loss of confidence in the value of one’s own opinion. People imagined that it was out of date to follow their own moral sense, that they must all sing in chorus, and live by other people’s notions, notions that were being crammed down everybody’s throat. And then there arose the power of the glittering phrase, first the Tsarist, then the revolutionary.


This is Lara speaking:  (kind of surprising)

I’ve noticed that whenever this regime comes to power it goes through certain regular stages. In the first stage it’s the triumph of reason, of the spirit of criticism, the fight against prejudice and so on.

“Then comes the second stage. The accent is all on the shady activities of the pretended sympathizers, the hangers-on. There is more and more suspicion—informers, intrigues, hatreds. And you are right—we are at the beginning of the second stage..


Sima speaks of Mary Magdalen on the eve of Easter.  –

The theme of eros and women is explicitly sounded in the eccentric Sima’s conversations with Lara, with her original reformation of Nikolai’s speculative theses on religion and history. Mary replaces Christ as the inaugurator of modern, truly human history. The everyday girl gives birth to “universal life” by miraculous inspiration (DZ 342). “Universal life,” God, becomes man, and henceforth individual lives and the creative elaboration of everyday reality become the life story of God (DZ 343).

Sima ponders why Mary Magdalene is mentioned on the eve of Easter, as a timely reminder of what life is before the ensuing death and resurrection of “universal life.” This reminder is of concrete life, temporal, sensual, and passionate; crucified and seeking renewal; boldly speaking in bodily, everyday images. Magdalene embraces Christ in the waves of her hair, thirsting after his forgiving mercy. Sima exclaims, “What familiarity, what equality between God and life, God and the individual, God and a woman!” (DZ 345). Sima’s Christ is curiously silent. Who is resurrecting whom? Who is the consummate artist, creatively speaking the truth in terms taken from everyday life? The Magdalene of Yurii’s poems speaks in the same earthly erotic voice, with the same effect.


13.18 –  Yurii gets a letter from Tonya and is immediately immersed in her world.  She loves him but is being deported.   He wanders out into the snow and faints.

In the letter Tonya says:

“I was born to make life simple and to look for sensible solutions; she, to complicate it and create confusion.”

What does she mean?


Chapter 14 – Return to Varykino

Komarovsky comes to take Lara to the Pacific Coast where the Whites are assembling.  He says that Pasha and Yurii are in a lot of danger.

( – By the time the Russo-Japanese War started in 1904, the city was a major part of the Russian empire. Several theatres had been opened, newspapers were being published, and an institution of higher education, the Oriental Institute, had been founded. There were hundreds of buildings lining lighted streets, interspersed with parks and trees.

Vladivostok suffered heavy losses in that war, but recovered relatively quickly. Afterwards, despite revolts by local sailors in 1906, it would continue to grow until the Revolution began in 1917. As WWI was still raging, American, British, and Japanese forces occupied the city together with White Army troops in order to protect supplies, supply lines, and the British and Japanese citizens still resident in the city. The armies collectively resisted the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. The fall of Vladivostok in 1922, after the end of WWI and the departure of the foreign troops, is often cited as one of the final events of the Civil War, sealing the Bolshevik victory.)

Komarovsky has a plan;

<i> “I can take you and Larisa Feodorovna with me. From there, you can easily get a boat and join your family overseas. You know, of course, that they have been deported. It made a lot of noise; the whole of Moscow is still talking about it.

“I have promised Larisa Feodorovna to save Strelnikov. As a member of an independent government recognized by Moscow, I can look for him in eastern Siberia and help him to cross over into our autonomous region. If he does not succeed in escaping, I’ll suggest that he should be exchanged for someone who is in Allied custody and is valuable to the Moscow Government.”</i>

Do you trust him?  What’s he up to?   Would you go?

I think Komarovsky might believe himself – he’s a perfect candidate for the Whites – support of the old regime and all that.

“Siberia—truly a New America, as it is often called—has immense possibilities. It is the cradle of Russia’s future greatness, the gauge of our progress toward democracy and political and economic health.

He has nowhere to stay – he stays with them.


14.4   Having no real choice Lara and Yurii prepare to go to Varykino.  She says there’s something she has to tell him.  He suspects she is pregnant  –

Lara:  <i> But about Varykino. Of course, to go to that wilderness in winter, without food, without strength or hope—it’s utter madness. But why not, my love! Let’s be mad, if there is nothing except madness left to us.</i>

And Yurii responds with about the same level of rational thought –  Are they mad?   Just want the pressure off themselves?



14.7   Yuri:  <i>  “Things are gradually settling down. Perhaps one day they’ll start publishing books again.

1.2  The next day they were supposed to travel south to a provincial town on the Volga where Uncle Nikolai worked for the publisher of the local progressive newspaper.

1.4   The next day they were supposed to travel south to a provincial town on the Volga where Uncle Nikolai worked for the publisher of the local progressive newspaper.

3.2   Nikolai Nikolaievich now lived in Lausanne. In his books, published there in Russian and in translations, he developed his old view of history as another universe, made by man with the help of time and memory in answer to the challenge of death.

4.14   Yurii Andreievich heard from Moscow that Gordon and Dudorov had published his book without his permission, and that it was praised and regarded as showing great literary promise; that Moscow was going through a disturbed, exciting time and was on the eve of something important, that there was growing discontent among the masses, and that grave political events were imminent.


14.8   The wolves stood in a row, their heads raised and their muzzles pointing at the house, baying at the moon or at its silver reflection on the windows. But scarcely had Yurii Andreievich realized that they were wolves when they turned and trotted off like dogs, almost as if they could read his thoughts. He lost sight of them before he noticed the direction in which they had vanished.

10.9    He crossed out what he had written and began to write down the legend of St. George and the dragon in the same lyrical manner.

10.9  The wolves he had been remembering all day long were no longer wolves on the snowy plain under the moon, they had become a theme, they had come to symbolize a hostile force bent upon destroying him and Lara and on driving them from Varykino.

14.10  The wolves, after having disappeared for a few days, had again howled in the night. Once again, mistaking them for dogs, and frightened by the omen, Larisa Feodorovna, just as before, announced that she was leaving the next day.

14.10   The wolves were nearer than the night before. They vanished even more swiftly and again before he could make out in which direction they went. They had stood in a bunch and he had not had time to count them, but it seemed to him that there were more of them.

14.12   “But she won’t go without you. I simply don’t know what to do. You’ll have to help me in a different way. You’ll have to pretend, let her think that you might be willing to change your mind, look as if you might allow yourself to be persuaded. I can’t see her saying goodbye and leaving you, either here or at the station at Yuriatin.

14.13    “Now I’ll go to Moscow,” ran, his thoughts. “The first job is to survive. I must not force myself to sleep. Instead, I must work all through the night till I drop with exhaustion. Yes, and another thing, light the stove in the bedroom at once, there is no reason why I should freeze tonight.”

14.14    Tolstoy thought of it in just this way, but he did not spell it out so clearly. He denied that history was set in motion by Napoleon or any other ruler or general, but he did not develop his idea to its logical conclusion. No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history’s organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshipped for decades thereafter, for centuries.

14.14  he made a note reaffirming his belief that art always serves beauty, and beauty is delight in form, and form is the key to organic life, since no living thing can exist without it, so that every work of art, including tragedy, expresses the joy of existence. And his own ideas and notes also brought him joy, a tragic joy, a joy full of tears that exhausted him and made his head ache.


A few days later Strelnikov arrives –


14.17    “None of this can mean anything to you. You couldn’t understand it. You grew up quite differently. There was the world of the suburbs, of the railways, of the slums and tenements. Dirt, hunger, overcrowding, the degradation of the worker as a human being, the degradation of women. And there was the world of the mother’s darlings, of smart students and rich merchants’ sons; the world of impunity, of brazen, insolent vice; of rich men laughing or shrugging off the tears of the poor, the robbed, the insulted, the seduced; the reign of parasites, whose only distinction was that they never troubled themselves about anything, never gave anything to the world, and left nothing behind them.


“But for us life was a campaign. We moved mountains for those we loved, and if we brought them nothing but sorrow, they did not hold it against us because in the end we suffered more than they did.


Revolutions, young men dying on the barricades, writers racking their brains in an effort to curb the brute insolence of money, to save the human dignity of the poor. Marxism arose, it uncovered the root of the evil and it offered the remedy, it became the great force of the century. And the elegant streets of the age were all that, as well as the dirt and the heroism, the vice and the slums, and the proclamations and the barricades.


“Yes. Well. So you see, the whole of this nineteenth century—its revolutions in Paris, its generations of Russian exiles starting with Herzen, its assassinations of Tsars, some only plotted, others carried out, the whole of the workers’ movement of the world, the whole of Marxism in the parliaments and universities of Europe, the whole of this new system of ideas with its newness, the swiftness of its conclusion, its irony, and its pitiless remedies elaborated in the name of pity—all of this was absorbed and expressed in Lenin, who fell upon the old world as the personified retribution for its misdeeds.


Yurii tells Strelnikov how Lara told him of her love for Pasha:

“Each of you held one end, and she leaned far back throwing up her arms high as on a swing and turning away her face from the blowing dust and squinted her eyes and laughed? Isn’t that how it was? How well I know her ways! And then you walked toward each other folding up the heavy carpet first in two and then in four, and she joked and made faces, didn’t she? Didn’t she?”

14.18 –   <i>  At long last, Yurii Andreievich had a good sleep. For the first time in many nights he fell asleep the moment he lay down. Strelnikov spent the night; the doctor put him in the next room</i>

Why did he sleep well?

14.18   A few yards from the door, Strelnikov lay across the path with his head in a snowdrift. He had shot himself. The snow was a red lump under his left temple where he had bled. Drops of spurting blood that had mixed with the snow formed red beads that looked like rowanberries.


15.1 –  <i>  He went to Moscow at the beginning of the NEP, the most ambiguous and hypocritical of all Soviet periods.

15.2    Half the villages he passed were deserted, the fields abandoned and unharvested as after an enemy raid. Such were the effects of war—the civil war.


The fields appeared to him as something seen in the fever of a dangerous illness, and the woods, by contrast, in the lucidity of health regained. God, so it seemed to him, dwelled in the woods, while the fields echoed with the sardonic laughter of the devil.

15. 3   It was Vasia Brykin. He threw himself on the ground before the doctor, kissed his hands, and wept.

The burned ruins were those of his native village, Veretenniki. His mother was dead.</i>

Coincidence again –  small world –

15.4 –  Vasia’s story of the burned out village and the wandering victims.

15.5   he doctor and Vasia arrived in Moscow in the spring of 1922 at the beginning of the NEP. The weather was fine and warm. Sunshine glancing off the golden domes of the Church of the Saviour played on the square below where grass was growing in the cracks between the paving stones.

.Professors’ wives who, when times had been hard before, had secretly baked white rolls and sold them in defiance of the regulations, now sold them openly at some bicycle repair shop or other which had been requisitioned and left unused all these years. They changed sides, accepted the revolution, and no longer used their genteel language.

The doctor and Vasia combined their efforts. The doctor wrote booklets on various subjects and Vasia set them up and printed them in small editions, as part of his training at the Institute. They were then distributed through the secondhand bookshops that had been recently opened by their friends.

thoughts about religion and history (which had much in common with those of his uncle and Sima),

15.5    After he had moved in (to Markel’s spare room) , Yurii Andreievich gave up medicine, neglected himself, stopped seeing his friends, and lived in great poverty.   – Markel is the old butler from the Gromekos.  I think they are living in a portion of the old Gromeko house.


15. 6     Yurii Andreievich glanced over his shoulder. On the desk lay a pile of the early editions of the booklets that he had written and Vasia had printed.  –  (more publishing)

15. 7   Yurii and Markel’s daughter,  Marina, marry and have two daughters.  They live near Misha Gordon.

<i> Neither Dudorov nor Gordon realized that even their admonitions to Zhivago were prompted less by a friendly wish to influence his conduct than by their inability to think with freedom and to guide the conversation at will. Like a runaway cart, the conversation took them where they did not want to go. Unable to steer it, they were bound, sooner or later, to bump into something, and to be hit. And so, in their sermonizing, time and again they got off their tracks.</i>

Note the metaphor of railroads to sermanizing (and the word runaway is used)

<i> Dudorov’s pious platitudes were in the spirit of the times. But it was precisely their conformism, their transparent sanctimoniousness, that exasperated Yurii Andreievich. Men who are not free, he thought, always idealize their bondage. So it was in the Middle Ages, and later the Jesuits always exploited this human trait. Zhivago could not bear the political mysticism of the Soviet intelligentsia, though it was the very thing they regarded as their highest achievement, or as it would have been called in those days, “the spiritual ceiling of the age.” But this he also kept to himself in order not to hurt the feelings of his friends.</i>

This might get the attention of the censors – (heh)

<i>  The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant, systematic duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s a part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity. I found it painful to listen to you, Innokentii, when you told us how you were re-educated and became mature in jail. It was like listening to a circus horse describing how it broke itself in.”

“I must stand up for Dudorov,” said Gordon. “You’ve got unused to simple human words, they don’t reach you any more.”</i>

Could a fiction be made today around hypocrisy and illness?

His friends try to convince him to change –

<i>  “Wait a moment, you’re just looking for excuses. We won’t let you go until you’ve given us an honest, straightforward answer. Do you or don’t you agree that it’s time you changed your ways and reformed? What are you going to do about it? </i>

15.8  –  Yurii disappears –  he sends money.

<i>  Whenever his imagination flagged he whipped it up by making drawings in the margins of his notebooks. The drawings were always of forest cuttings or of street intersections marked by the sign: “Moreau & Vetchinkin. Mechanical seeders. Threshing machines.”</i>

15. 9

<i>   On the day of his disappearance he left Gordon and went out into Bronnaia Street a little before dusk. He turned straight toward home, but almost immediately, within less than a hundred yards, he ran into his half brother Evgraf, who was coming down the street toward him. He had neither seen him nor heard of him for more than three years. It turned out that Evgraf had just arrived in Moscow; as usual, he came quite unexpectedly, and he shrugged off all questions with a smile or a joke.

Evgraf comes to Yurii’s assistance again –

15.10    He was in a hurry. Whenever his imagination flagged he whipped it up by making drawings in the margins of his notebooks. The drawings were always of forest cuttings or of street intersections marked by the sign: “Moreau & Vetchinkin. Mechanical seeders. Threshing machines.”

15.11   **********<i> “The seemingly incongruous and arbitrary jumble of things and ideas in the work of the Symbolists (Blok, Verhaeren, Whitman) is not a stylistic caprice. This is a new order of impressions, taken directly from life.<i>*************

15.12    One morning at the end of August, Yurii Andreievich took the trolley at a stop at a corner of Gazetny Street which went up along Nikita Street to the Kudrinskaia terminal.


He had no luck with his trolley; it had a defective motor and kept getting into trouble of every sort.


<i> … a dark lilac thundercloud was creeping higher and higher up the sky. A storm was gathering.</i>

<i> He tried to imagine several people whose lives run parallel and close together but move at different speeds, and he wondered in what circumstances some of them would overtake and survive others. Something like a theory of relativity governing the hippodrome of life occurred to him, but he became confused and gave up his analogies.

<i>  He began to squeeze his way through the crush on the rear platform, provoking kicks and more abuse. Ignoring the resentful cries, he broke through the crowd, got down from the standing trolley into the street, took a step, another, a third, collapsed on the stone paving, and did not get up again.

*** Zhivago’s death – by trolley –

<i> The lady in lilac was a Swiss national; she was Mademoiselle Fleury, from Meliuzeievo, and she was now very, very old. For twelve years she had been writing to the authorities in Moscow for permission to return to her native country, and quite recently her application had been granted.

15.13 –  the viewing –

<i> The custom of cremating the dead had by this time become widespread. In the hope of a pension for the children, and to ensure their education and Marina’s position at the post office, it had been decided to dispense with a church service and simply have a civil cremation. The proper authorities had been notified and their representatives were expected.</i>

compare – to that of his mother,  to others?


<i>She was accompanied by her friends Gordon and Dudorov, who also were numb with grief. Markel, her father, would sit down on the bench by her side and sob and blow his nose into his handkerchief loudly. Her weeping mother and sisters came and went.

But there were two people in the gathering, a man and a woman, who stood out from all the rest. They did not claim any closer tie with the deceased than the others. They did not compete in sorrow with Marina, her daughters, or his friends.  These were the people who had apparently taken it upon themselves to arrange the funeral, and they had seen to everything from the first with unruffled calm, as if it gave them satisfaction. Their composure was remarkable and it produced a strange impression, as if they were involved not only in the funeral but also in the death, not in the sense of having directly or indirectly caused it but as people who, once it had occurred, had given their consent to it, were reconciled, and did not see it as the most important event in the story of Zhivago. Few of the mourners knew them, a few others surmised who they were, but most had no idea.  </i>

<i> Evgraf went out into the corridor crowded with the doctor’s colleagues, his school friends, junior members of the hospital staff, and people from the publishing world.

Lara:   <i>  I arrived in Moscow, checked my things at the station, and went for a walk through some old Moscow streets. Half of it I couldn’t recognize, I’ve been away so long I’d forgotten. Well, I walked and walked, down Kuznetsky Most and up Kuznetsky Pereulok, and suddenly I saw something terribly, extraordinarily familiar—Kamerger Street. That was where my husband, Antipov, who was shot, used to live as a student—in this house and in this very room where you and I are sitting now. I’ll go in, I thought; who knows, the old tenants might still be there, I’ll look them up. You see, I didn’t know it had all changed—no one so much as remembers their name—I didn’t find that out till later, the day after and today, gradually, by asking people. But you were there, I don’t know why I’m telling you. I was thunderstruck—the door wide open, people all over the place, a coffin in the room, a dead man. Who is it? I come in, I come up and look. I thought I had lost my mind. But you were there, you saw me, didn’t you? Why on earth am I telling you?”</i>

Is this another indication of a mystical sensibility in Lara?


Efrav:  <i> You must surely know that he shot himself?”

Lara:    “Yes, I’ve heard that version, but I don’t believe it. Pavel Pavlovich wasn’t a man to commit suicide.”

Efrav:   “But it’s quite certain. Antipov shot himself in that house where, my brother said, you were living before you went to Vladivostok. It happened very soon after you left. My brother found his body. He buried him. How is it you weren’t told?”</i>

???? Why does Lara not believe the suicide story?


“No one is left. One has died. The other has killed himself. And only that one is left alive who should have been killed, whom I tried to kill and missed, that stranger who had nothing in common with me, that complete cipher who turned my life into a chain of crimes beyond my knowing. And that monster of mediocrity is busy dashing about in the mythical byways of Asia known only to stamp collectors, and not one of those who are near to me and whom I need is left.


<i>   Did she divine that Yurii, whose dead body was lying on the table, had seen the candle as he was driving past, and noticed it, and that from the moment of his seeing its light from the street (“A candle burned on the table, a candle burned …”) his life took its fatal course?</i>

What in the world is the narrator telling us about the story?   –  that it was all fate?


15.15  <i>   They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the “blaze of passion” often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.

15.17 –  <i>  One day Larisa Feodorovna went out and did not come back. She must have been arrested in the street at that time. She vanished without a trace and probably died somewhere, forgotten as a nameless number on a list that afterwards got mislaid, in one of the innumerable mixed or women’s concentration camps in the north.</i>

What kind of an ending is that for Lara?




summer 1943 –   How old would Gordon and Dudorov be now?  Stalinist Era –  During Stalingrad?

16.2  <i>  “It’s on the Zusha, you know, that it all happened—Christina, I mean.”

“Yes, but that would be lower down the river. They say the Church has canonized her.”</i>

True story – based on ……………………..  news clippings found in Pasternak’s belongings


An open snow field with a post in the middle and a notice on it saying: ‘GULAG 92 Y.N. 90’—that’s all there was.”


“I think that collectivization was an erroneous and unsuccessful measure and it was impossible to admit the error. To conceal the failure people had to be cured, by every means of terrorism, of the habit of thinking and judging for themselves, and forced to see what didn’t exist, to assert the very opposite of what their eyes told them. This accounts for the unexampled cruelty of the Yezhov18 period, the promulgation of a constitution that was never meant to be applied, and the introduction of elections that violated the very principle of free choice.

“Tania, the laundry girl, was a friend of Christina’s. They got to know each other at the front. She talks a lot about her. Have you noticed the way Tania smiles, all over her face, like Yurii? You forget the snub nose and the high cheekbones, and you think she’s quite pretty and attractive. It’s the same type, you see it all over Russia.”

More coincidences


<i>  They had been waiting a long time—more than five hours. With nothing to do, they listened to the incessant chatter of the garrulous girl, who had seen a great deal in her life. At the moment she was telling them of how she had met Major-General Zhivago.

4.   Tonya tells her story – pretty barbaric

I don’t know, but I’ve heard it said that my mother, Raïsa Komarova, was the wife of a Russian cabinet minister, Comrade Komarov, who was in hiding in White Mongolia. But I guess Komarov was not my real father. Well, of course, I’m not an educated girl, I grew up an orphan without a father and mother. Perhaps what I say seems funny to you, but I’m only saying what I know, you have to put yourselves in my place.

<i>  This Komarov didn’t know about me. He didn’t know that I even existed. My mother had me when she had been parted from him for a long time, and she was frightened to death that somebody might tell him. He hated children terribly, and he yelled and stamped his feet. They only bring filth and worry into the house, I can’t stand it, he used to yell.  </i>

Is this the child of Lara and Yurii?  Was there time for her to be pregnant and delivered between the time Yurii mentioned it and Siberia?  Where was she born?   She was apparently given to others when old enough to remember and miss her mother.

Why did Pasternak include that long story from Tonya?  Does it have some meaning?  That the Siberian areas were not pacified or safe?

<i>   An engine hooted down below. I recognized its whistle; it was from the engine that they always kept ready at Nagornaia—a pusher, they called it—to help freight trains up the hill. This was a mixed train going by, it always went by at that time every night.   I  heard this engine I knew, calling me from below. I listened and my heart leapt. </i>

<i.  They took the law into their own hands. They dragged him out onto the tracks, tied his hands and feet to the rails, and drove the train over him.</i>

16. 5    Five or ten years later, one quiet summer evening, Dudorov and Gordon were again together, sitting at an open window above Moscow, which extended into the dusk as far as the eye could reach. They were looking through an album of Yurii’s writings that Evgaf had put together, a book they had read more than once and almost knew by heart.

1948-1953?  –

<i> Although victory had not brought the relief and freedom that were expected at the end of the war, nevertheless the portents of freedom filled the air throughout the postwar period, and they alone defined its historical significance.</i>

Nice ending for the censors?

<i> To the two old friends, as they sat by the window, it seemed that this freedom of the soul was already there, as if that very evening the future had tangibly moved into the streets below them, that they themselves had entered it and were now part of it. Thinking of this holy city and of the entire earth, of the still-living protagonists of this story, and their children, they were filled with tenderness and peace, and they were enveloped by the unheard music of happiness that flowed all about them and into the distance. And the book they held seemed to confirm and encourage their feeling.</i>

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