I have a confession. I have never read Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago. Not such a big deal, but I thought that I had read it, convinced myself that I had, and even added it to my “Have Read” books on Goodreads. I have removed it from that list.
I wanted to revisit the book for Valentine’s Day and pay homage to the main character, whom I have carried around for the last 50 years as my ideal of the romantic fictional hero. I happen to have an old hardbound copy of the book and pulled it out, thinking that I might want to photograph the cover for this post. I cracked it open, read a few passages and immediately knew that I had never read it.
I had seen the movie in 1965 and had fallen in love with Yuri Zhivago, played by Omar Sharif. Or I should say that I fell in love with Omar Sharif, playing Yuri Zhivago. The first time I had fallen in love with a leading man since Roy Rogers won my heart.
Somehow that screen story had worked its way into my subconscious through the vivid scenes of the beautiful Russian countryside, the horror of the Russian revolution, the love affair between the doctor and his Lara, and Omar Sharif’s melting gaze with those eyes – oh, my gosh, those eyes.
So there it is. I was willing to accept what I saw on the screen as completely what the author conceived, including the persona Omar Sharif portrayed. I probably wouldn’t have fallen so hard for that persona, but I was 19 years old , ripe for love and there he was, in technicolor.
I would, as a general statement, say that for me the book is always better than the movie. Except for Dr. Zhivago. Not sure about that one, but I guess it’s time to read the book. It won’t be the same without Omar Sharif, but I guess I’m mature enough to live with that.
Happy Valentine’s Day!