Love in the time of revolution



I can’t imagine a culture further from my own then Russia during one of it’s most turbulent historical periods. Dr Zhivago is an epic love story that spans 50 years of Russian history, from the birth pains of revolution in 1906, through the killing of Tsar Nicolas, the civil war and World War Two.

The story of the titular character is one of tragedy, caught between the love of two women, dedicated Tonya and wild Lara Fyodorovna. The image of Yuri Zhivago’s two love affairs is an image for the polarisation of ideas within the novel. Yuri is torn between his profession as a doctor and his gift for writing, his love for the Motherland and his dislike of communism. I swept through this novel, in spite of its thickness, and while I think I did miss some important elements through the translation, it was a wonderful read. The hardest part is to try keep up with the (very) Russian names, so try to find a copy with a list of characters at the beginning.

Pasternak writes in an astoundingly poetic way, and I suspect much of the novel is based on his own life experience and ideas. A close family friend of Tolstoy, Pasternak was strongly influenced by his work. He won a Nobel prize for literature for this novel, but was forced to return it by the Russian communist government.

Because the book is so thick, you’ll need to pair it with more than one wine. For this, I drank the Lourensford Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Brennaissance’s bordeaux blend, called Full House.


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