Doctor Zhivago

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Yury Zhivago perceives life with mystical, religious intensity. Keenly aware of his soul’s intimations of immortality, Yury seeks out others searching for answers to life’s mysteries.

After his parents’ deaths, ten-year-old Yury lives with Uncle Nikolai whose philosophy of progress and mysticism touches the boy’s poetic instincts. Later Yury lives with a professor’s family and is inspired to become a doctor. He marries Tanya, the professor’s daughter.

When war with Germany comes, Yury serves at the front as a surgeon. He is attracted to Lara, a married nurse, but the fighting separates them. Returning to Moscow, Yury finds family, property, and personal identity threatened by the Revolution’s leveling force. Yury takes his family into the Ural Mountains.

Here he meets Lara and professes his love. The Communists capture Yury, forcing him to serve until he escapes. When Tanya returns to Moscow, Yury and Lara live together. Life is idyllic: Yury writes poetry about their transcendent love which puts them at peace with all creation.

When the townspeople label the lovers counter-revolutionaries, Yury forces Lara to escape with a protective Soviet official while he flees to Moscow. His wife and daughter have gone to Paris so he befriends his half brother, Evgraf. For several years he practices medicine and writes verse. He dies on the same day Lara comes to the capital. Later Evgraf publishes Yury’s poetry....

(The entire section is 534 words.)