• Doctor Zhivago

  • Vintage Classic Russians Series
  • By: Boris Pasternak
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 25 hrs and 47 mins
  • 3.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Doctor Zhivago

By: Boris Pasternak
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

From the acclaimed translators of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, a stunning new translation of Boris Pasternak's Nobel Prize-winning masterpiece, the first since the 1958 original.

Banned in the Soviet Union until 1988, Doctor Zhivago is the epic 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, Yuri Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds and in love with the tender and beautiful Nurse Lara. 

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have restored the rhythms, tone, precision and poetry of Pasternak's original, bringing this classic of world literature gloriously to life for a new generation of listeners.

©2020 Boris Pasternak (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Doctor Zhivago

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    3 out of 5 stars

Overrated story about a two-timer

I think this book was the big success it was because it was forbidden in the USSR (one of the best ways to promote interest in a book is to ban it). And then a successful film. At the time, some critics said it trivialized history. Well, that’s how I feel about the book itself. The historical side of it is quite shallow. There is a war setting, but the transition from WWI to the Revolution is not clear, and the end is suddenly set in WWII, feeling like he just wanted to stick that in, too. The love story is also kind of shallow - never really clear what drives Zhivago to love another woman when he clearly loves his wife. He is irresponsible towards the women in his life and his children. I find it hard to sympathize with such a person. I get a feeling that Pasternak wanted to write a 20th century War and Peace, but failed. Though the writing (based on what is considered a good translation here) is often quite lovely, it often also rambles without any real purpose other than Pasternak seems to like to “hear” himself “talk”. The last chapter of poetry I did not finish. I found it boring and purposeless. Juliet Stevens did an excellent job of reading, including the male voices, though sometimes they were hard to distinguish. But I do have one nit to pick with her: the way she pronounces “plice” without a schwa between the p and l drives me nuts. (And I wrote that about her in my review of a different book, where the word was far more frequent.) There is far better 20th century Russian literature than this, but I’m not sorry I listened, so that I know more about the book than I did from seeing the film decades ago.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Layla Boggs
  • 08-27-21

Not for casual listening

Don't be put off by the Hollywood hype of Doctor Zhivago being a 'classic love story'. The film concentrates on that aspect of the story, but the novel is so much more. Covering half a century of the Doctor's life in various cities, in different social situations, and with different groups of people, it's a kaleidoscopic view of 'real' Russia and it's people.

Precisely because of this the audiobook can be difficult to follow if you're not prepared to invest time solely in the story. That's not a criticism, just an observation that 30 minutes a day listening while doing something else is unlikely to give you the best experience of the novel. I tried the casual approach, next time I'm going to commit to listening to the whole thing in 3 or 4 sittings.

I hope I haven't put anyone off! This really is a great novel, and Stevenson's performance is superb. I highly recommend it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • GeoffS
  • 03-19-21

A story to think about and beautiful narration

Anyone who has an interest in Russian culture and history should read this book. But to listen to Ms Stevenson’s narration of Doctor Zhivago is a very special treat.

4 people found this helpful

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  • rachel peterson
  • 01-05-21

A true epic

Marvellous - a character list, with all the patronims would be a great asset!

4 people found this helpful

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  • J Lara
  • 09-01-21

A beautiful story

One of my favourite books, a real treat to have it read to me and Juliet Stevenson did this beautifully.

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  • Foxy
  • 01-30-21

A great classic. Brilliant narration.

A Heartbreaking love story runs through this historical novel set in Russia at the time of the massive upheavals of the Revolution & First World War.
Pasternak ‘s prose ,descriptions of the Russian landscapes etc & Zhivago’s internal conflicts are truly superbly crafted even if at times the plot was complicated , so condensed , so subtle in meaning that I found myself back tracking many times.
The film was brilliant but this is on another level if your able to give it time & perseverance. For me a silver lining event from the COVID lockdown.

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  • (elizabeth)ann donnelly
  • 01-16-21

Classic

Brilliant reading of a classic novel which completely held me from beginning to end Juliet Stevenson is one of my Audible ‘go to”s”

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-01-22

Juliet Stephenson is the best - but . .

. . . I was so disappointed because I could not follow the storyline. Totally confused about where the story was going, when it was going, if at all, and who was who I gave up, so I am returning the audiobook.
I'm sure it's a fantastic story and a wonderful listen / read for many, but not for me.
Juliet Stephenson is utterly the best so it's a double whammy not to be able to hear her performance. She doesn't just read, she performs. Totally the best, I'm off to find another book, performed by her.