Thursday, 18 November 2010

Inward Music

One of reasons I'm really enjoying reading Dr. Zhivago is the theme of life and faith that runs though it. I haven't read many Russian novels but, of those I have, these themes seem to run through each of them. The questions of life which characters think and talk about provokes me. I like being reminded of my faith when reading. They're not always the best passages to put on a blog - sometimes too long. But I'm going to have a try.

'... what has for centuries has raised man above beast is... an inward music: the irrestible power of unarmed truth... It has always been assumed that the most important things in the Gospels are the ethical teaching and commandments. But for me the most important thing is the fact that Christ speaks in parables taken from daily life, that he explains the truth in terms of everyday reality. The idea which underlies this is that communities between mortals is immortal, and that the whole of life is symbolic because the whole of it has meaning.'

'Lara was not religious. She did not believe in ritual. But sometimes, to enable her to bear her life, she needed the accompaniment of an inward music and she could not always compose it for herself. That music was God's word of life and it was to weep over it she went to church.'



  1. I love those quotes and was struck by them too during my reading. The idea of an 'inward music' is exactly how I feel about my own faith - it gives me a rhythm and a certainty and a beauty within which I can anchor my life, and let me tell you this - in a Russian Orthodox Church, the hymns lifted up to God are so stunningly beautiful that there is nothing you can do but cry. You must go to one!

    On another Doctor Zhivago note, I got the other translation out of the library yesterday (the one you're reading) and was reading them both in tandem this morning on the train (I must have looked very odd, with two huge tomes propped one above the other on my knees!) and I must say...I prefer the older one for readability, especially when it comes to expressing the dialogue, but the newer one is slightly better at the nuances of the imagery and metaphors etc. So neither is perfect, but I don't think you are really 'missing' much by not having the new translation. I'm going to do a more detailed post on it in the next couple of days when I get some time.

  2. This is a beautiful post. I am fascinating by religion and the philosophy of religion and spent quite a lot of time studying theology when i went to uni the first time around. The beauty of the concepts involved is wonderful and the role of faith is equally so. I am not a religious person myself but so (and for Lara too, I suppose) even without adhering to a particular religion of even positing a deity to exist, it's still comforting to think of the lessons we can learn from life, the fact that in all lives throughout history these lessons are much the same, and I suppose that we are united with these principles and with the rest of humanity through this connection. And, religious music is compellingly moving to me too as I can hear the church service on radio 4 in the background. So this quote is perfect for me to have read on a Sunday morning. THank you for posting it!

  3. I've never read Dr Zhivago although I absolutely love the film, in fact it may just be my favourite. I think what I remember most is the unshakeable way Yuri loves truly and faithfully throughout his life. Also Yuri and Pasternack's love for Russia, I am not nationalist but loving where you're from and sticking with it really resonates with me- I don't think I could have left where I am from during the war for example and I know my family didn't- but the way that's expressed is so touching without being jingoistic.

    I really should read the book!


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