Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dr. Zhivago

I'm joining in with the group read at Nonsuch Books.

I've seen the film many times but this is my first time of reading Dr. Zhivago. As ever when it's this way round I'm trying to make sense of the book with film thoughts often clouding in. The first time this happened was on reading

'Her [Lara] dark hair was scattered...'
but no this is Lara Antipov

Suddenly reading

'he owned an enormous estate in the Urals, near Yuryatin;'
'Yuryatin' a word which ones hears so much in the film and to suddenly see the word leap off the page sends shiver through me.
My main thought is from having read JoAnn's post on translation I'm wondering if I should be carrying the new hardback version around. Especially as I love collecting passages I feel I'm so missing out. I'm now reading it thinking "I wonder how this was translated in the new version?" At least I have a great reason to re buy (especially as I don't like the front cover but that's a whole other story) and re read Dr. Zhivago.

As this is the beginning of Dr. Zhivago group read I thought I'd end this post with.

"All these people were there, together, in this one place. But some of them had never known each other, while others failed to recognise each other now. And there were things about them which were never to be known for certain, while others were only to await another opportunity in order to reveal themselves." Boris Pasternak Dr.Zhivago (Tr.Max Hayward & Manya Harari)

How is this passage in your translation?


  1. Have never read the book (but who hasn't seen the film?!) - will be interested to know what you think of it. By the way, Radio 4's Open Book program had a piece about translations in: very interesting too if you can get spare time for a listen again!

  2. Read the book VERY many years ago - will have to read again to compare with the film, which has for me one of the most heart-breaking endings of any film.

  3. I've never read the book, I think I'll have to add it to the list, although I'm a little worried now that it will ruin the story for me since it is not the same as the movie. I do wish movies would stay true to the book so I wouldn't have this type of problem!

  4. Well I have read the Manya Harari and Max Hayward translation before and am now reading the Pevear and Volokhonsky one. I read the other one so long ago that I can't say whether this newer one feels fresher or better or more natural or any of the things it is supposed to be, but the fact that Pasternak himself didn't rate the original translation makes me think that I am better off reading the newer one.

    For what it's worth, the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of Anna Karenina is superb, so I do trust them as translators!

    I'm going to try and take out the old edition from the library so I can do some comparing and contrasting, as I plan on devoting a post to just this issue!

    Glad you are enjoying it. I very much am, even though it feels like hard work at times!

  5. After my reaction to Madame Bovary, I can't help wondering about Dr. Z's new translation. I've tried to read the book twice and can't seem to get past page 150. Maybe Pevear &Volokhonsky's translation is the key...

  6. Ikusen no mirai yori mo
    Isshun no ima wo tsuyoku ikitai
    Naraku no hotori de sae mo
    Kakete yukeru Anata to nara
    Mau kaze no gotoku

  7. I think that you are not the only one who thinks back to the movie as well here. And to issues of translation as well. This may not be a well-founded belief but I am somewhat suspicious of this translation - so plodding to me. But I am hanging in there for Book Two. Thanks so much for joining the group read!

  8. I, too, have connections to the film with Omar Shariff and Julie Christie. You told of the contrast between her 'dark hair' and I'm reminded of the contrast between Yuri's 'upturned nose' which is anything but like Omar Sharif's! Anyway, I think you have the best translation; I like it so much more than the highly acclaimed new one, even though I respect Pevear and Volokhonsky's work with all my heart.

  9. Definitely want to add this to my list of books to read! Have a wonderful day, friend!

    Julie xo

  10. I am disappointed to report I have temporary GIVEN UP(I know, what a thing to do!!) on Dr Z. Sigh...I think I may have to buy a copy of the old translation, as it sounds like the language might be a bit less awkward than the new one which I am currently carting around London with me (still, I suppose if nothing else it's good exercise?!).

    I'm a little surprised if this is just the translation that is making it hard for me to read, as I absolutely adored P&V's Anna Karenina and found myself absolutely glued to the pages. Perhaps Pasternak is just the devil to translate, or something. But, whatever the reason, as much as I want to love the book, I can't. This is very much not helped y the fact I'm still, 200 pages in, getting confused about who's who (I checked, and my edition has no helpful list - nightmare!!). Without knowing who's who you can't know what's going on, and even when I DO know who is doing what, I feel quite emotionally detached from the whole thing.

    The setting is obviously a very exciting time and the country itself sounds like a joy and a dream... pure magic... I"m quite desperate to visit now, more than ever! But I have found the best bits of writing to be when Pasternak is describing Russia, its character, and the wonderfully elemental-sounding weather. I love those parts and really find he writes beautifully with some very eloquent turns of phrase. I too collect phrases and have scribbled down many things - mushroom rain, winter's swoon, halfwit clouds... how wonderful! But I'm left quite cold by the story itself and I'm not sure why. I think it's a combination of the awkward dialogue and the strange way things are often phrased, which makes me think that perhaps the new translation will help me to love this novel the way so many others have done. I know it is the *sort* of novel I love, which is why it's so blooming frustrating when I find myself clock-watching as I read. SIGH!

    Am so glad you are having a happier reading time than I!

  11. the book is different in significant ways from the movie. i'm glad you're in the readalong; I'm really enjoying your posts. it's a beautiful novel!


Ooh how lovely more stripes on the page...
Thank you for taking the time.