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Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago

Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago challenged a number of socialist tenets in political, social, and literary terms, and it was banned in the Soviet Union as a consequence for 30 years. Politically, the novel questions the reality of the Soviet system as it developed, finding that the promise of the Bolsheviks was dissipated in the early years as changes were made in the social and political beliefs they had offered. In literary terms, the novel breaks away from the prevailing school of social realism, which in itself had been turned into a deliberate political statement and almost a political requirement for socialist-accepted writing. The novel intentionally deals with the early years of the Soviet system rather than with the Stalinist years. Pasternak had lived through both eras, but in this novel he was only challenging the way the Bolsheviks had abandoned their ideals. He does so in a context of humanist fiction, elevating the human being to a particularly high point and considering the relationship between the individual and society, the individual and other individuals, and the individual and his or her philosophy or religion. The move away from social realism is seen in the greater use of symbolism and a more romantic notion of human nature and of the importance of the individual. This idea is expressed through the relationship between Yurii and Lara and also in Yurii's disillusionment with Bolshevism and in its failure to make history more important than human beings. The political and the religious are compared in the person of Zhivago, a man who is too weak to fight the evil he sees clearly but who can leave hope and meaning in his poetry. The poetry that ends the volume should be seen as a vital element in the novel and not as merely an appendix.

The Russian Revolution forms the vital center of this work, and it is this seminal event in 20th Century history that affects the lives of the main characters even though...

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Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:54, June 25, 2019, from