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Doctor Zhivago

Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 23 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (369 ratings)

Regular price: $45.50

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Publisher's Summary

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its original publication, here is a new translation of the classic 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.

©1957 Boris Pasternak (P)2011 Random House

Critic Reviews

"This new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is for the first time based on the authentic original text, reflects the present, deeper level of understanding of the great masterpiece of 20th century Russian literature and conveys its whole artistic richness with all its complexities and subtleties that had escaped the attention of the earlier translators and readers." (Lazar Fleishman, Professor of Russian Literature, Stanford University)
"Without a doubt, their version will become the standard translation of the novel for years to come." (Barry Scherr, Mandel Family Professor of Russian, Dartmouth College)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • SydSavvy
  • PARIS, TX, United States
  • 02-16-13

Russian Philosophical Feast

Any additional comments?

This book is so much more than an epic historical love story, but I would never have picked up on it earlier in life. It is a Russian philosophical feast. The women in Zhivago's life clearly portray his feelings about Russia and the social changes that it went through. I'm amazed at how Pasternak was able to do this. The audio version was excellent because it provided a short intro that helped me with the magical /folktale part of the book, and then it had an afterword and a short history on Pasternak's life. Just be prepared for its typical Russian length and repetitiveness on theme / thought. Oh, and the love story is magnificent, too.

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderfully enjoyable read

My first encounter with the novel was the 1957 Italian translation from the Russian, which I loved. When the 1958 English version came out I had a more difficult time with it, comparing it rather unfavorably with the Italian version. I am happy to say that this audiobook of the new English translation, read so beautifully, is remarkably similar to the Italian version.
It's flowing descriptions of the era, sometimes shocking, rich use of language and sentimentality of the main characters are touching. It is a love story and a history of Russia at the beginning of the last century. For my taste it is more meaningful than War and Peace, maybe because it is based on more recent events. For those who have read the 1958 English translation I suggest this entirely new version will be very rewarding.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

THE RUSSIAN novel and history lesson for the world

This recounting of all that was Russia should be mandatory reading throughout the world. At all levels it challenges the spirit and makes us questions all that we are,
.This new translation touches the fiber of humanity.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Read it for history, not for story about Zhivago..

... and Lara.

This felt more like a history book than a novel. Of course, a well-written and lyrical history book, but still. Like many, I read this because I loved the movie. As others have mentioned, this is nothing like the movie. The primary goal of this novel, it seems, is to tell what life was like during the Revolution. The secondary, or maybe even tertiary, goal of this is to tell the stories of Zhivago and others. Found this very hard to follow. I have to put this book in the "glad I listened to it, but sure didn't enjoy it" category. I've listened to and enjoyed War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and Crime and Punishment, so I'm not at all adverse to long, philosophical Russian novels.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love and poetry sacrificed to ideals and folly

This sweeping romantic epic, set in Russia mostly during and after the 1917 Revolution, involves Yurii Zhivago, a young physician and poet, and Lara Antipova, his great love through the tumult and upheaval of the Revolution and most of the ensuing civil war between Red and White partisans.

This audiobook is made all the more profound and affecting if the listener is aware of the tragic harm done to Boris Pasternak for writing this novel, which was first published in Italy in 1957, but not in the Soviet Union until 1987. The communist regime forced Pasternak, an esteemed poet in Russia for years before writing this novel, to decline the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature, by jailing his long-time companion Olga Ivinskaya, his inspiration for Lara. Pasternak died two years later at the age of 70.

Zhivago, an army doctor wounded during WWI, is nursed to health by Lara. Upon return home, Doctor Zhivago returns to find his post-revolution Moscow ruined by disease and riots. He flees with wife Tonia and their child to settle in a small village in the Urals, where he soon after meets Lara and their mutual passions are inflamed.

Zhivago is soon taken by a group of Red partisans and forced to serve as their doctor during guerrilla warfare in Siberia against White partisans. Upon return, he finds that his family has returned to Moscow. He lives with Lara, his soul mate, in an abandoned farmhouse for a period of brief bliss. That is, until all is upset by the tempestuous events surrounding the return of Lara's husband Pasha, who she has not seen in years and is now infamously known as Strelnikov, meaning Shooter, a detested and dreaded commander for the Reds.

Twenty-five of Zhivago's poems make up the novel's final chapter. Pasternak meant the poetry to be an essential component since Zhivago sees his poems, not as a pastime or vocation, but a vital part of his identity, supplying spiritual succor when none seemed possible in the violent turmoil and restlessness of the years during and after the October Revolution. He wrote nearly all of these for Lara. As Robert Penn Warren once said, 'what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding: it is the deepest part of autobiography.'

A brilliant tale of love and poetry sacrificed at the expense of ideals of a revolution and the folly of communism.

Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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WoW!

Would you consider the audio edition of Doctor Zhivago to be better than the print version?

It was outstanding!

What did you like best about this story?

I was warned that it would be difficult to follow the characters, but it was not difficult at all.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

Everything!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

the story of life.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Beth
  • NASHVILLE, TN, United States
  • 12-13-11

Nothing like the movie.

What did you love best about Doctor Zhivago?

A living historical document of the Russian Revolution, by one who lived through it to tell the tale.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Strelnikov. Hero and villain, most realistic character.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

He did women's voices pretty well.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was appalled to learn that Pasternak was a self hating Jew.He went off on some antisemitic rants, which, considering he was of Jewish heritage, was extremely shocking.

Any additional comments?

I am more impressed now, by the David Lean film. He was able to take a somewhat tedious narrative and piece together an unforgettable film.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

decent

The translator and narrators did a fine job. However, the novel had zero humor and was very preachy. I listened to this book because Pasternak won the Nobel Prize and the David Lean movie is a classic. But don't expect Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ashley
  • Hebron, KY, United States
  • 12-30-12

Endured it, but I didn't get a prize.

Would you try another book from the authors and/or John Lee?

John Lee sure. He saved it. But this book was a chore.

What could the authors have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I read this book because it is a classic. I suspect it reflects the people and the times well. But oh, my. Take me back to Follett's Century Trilogy.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

Voices distinguishable and not annoying, even though the characters were.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Relief it was over and sorry it cost 2 credits.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story, wonderful reader

Pasternak has an amazing ability to capture the necessarily complex Russian philosophical attitudes during and after the Russian revolution and turn them into a beautiful novel of hardship and perseverance.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful