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Old 02-26-2020, 08:07 PM   #16
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I'm about the same place. Maybe I'll try the same tactic. The story itself is good. The names just make it complicated to follow.
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Old 02-28-2020, 05:14 AM   #17
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I got to a little over 20% through and found that I was spending more time chasing names and "also knowns" than following the story . So yesterday I decided to start from the beginning again and the story is flowing much better this time (so far).
Maybe I'll try this too.
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Old 02-29-2020, 02:43 PM   #18
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If I hadn't learnt it before from other Russian novels, I have surely learnt now that Russians don't only enjoy long and complicated names but also an endless parade of nicknames, even multiple for a single person and sometimes completely different than any part of their formal name or other nicknames.
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Old 02-29-2020, 04:40 PM   #19
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And even one name in one sentence and an entirely different looking name for the same person in the very next sentence had me last night wondering where the "new" person had sprung from.

I have a copy of the older Hayward & Manya translation and intend looking sometime to see if names are handled in an easier consistent (to non Russian speakers) manner in that.
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Old 03-05-2020, 12:44 AM   #20
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The reset that AnotherCat suggested definitely helped. Once I revisted the beginning chapters and reoriented myself with the connections of all of the characters, it’s now speeding along much smoother. It also helped to think of all the changing first names as nicknames since it’s not uncommon for people to have multiple nicknames as well as nicknames that don’t resemble their first name.
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Old 03-05-2020, 10:42 AM   #21
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I've plowed ahead with the audiobook, despite it being one of the hardest listens I've ever attempted, up there with my listens of Les Miserables and Dune. This one was so difficult because of all the formal names and nicknames and also because especially the first half of the book scenes just traipse from side characters to side characters here and there. I'm already having a hard time with the names, and then with the characters from scene to scene switching so often and having to try and figure if any of these characters are supposed to be ones I should already know or brand new, well... it was definitely a test of my listening and cognitive skills.

After a few hundred pages, I did make use of two similar online sites- sparknotes and schmoop. These are sites that summarise famous books chapter by chapter, I suppose usually for students. But they really helped me make more sense of the first hundred pages or so and make some character connections I hadn't while listening. I had meant to continue reading them after each section but only used them to make sense of those first few chapters so far.

I read War and Peace a long time ago when I was still a teenager. I didn't have to for school; I just wanted to, but it was a challenge being so long and dense. Though in real life I'm careful to not talk about reading it so as not to sound too pretentious, the times I felt I was around people with whom I could joke about it, I would say it's a slog for the first four or five hundred pages, but then it gets really good for the last thousand, heh.

In a way I feel the same about Dr. Zhivago, even though it's much shorter than the Tolstoy (though it's strange to say a 650 page book is 'much shorter', lol). There's so much set up, and it takes so long to get to know the characters sufficiently to be involved with them since there's so much flitting around. But once I did finally get comfortable with them all, I got really into it. For the Pasternak, that happened sometime after halfway or maybe even 2/3, maybe 300 or 400 pages in or so. In fact I know the scene where I can say I got really into the book. I'll put it in spoiler tags since it sounds like some of you might not be there yet and it's a bit of a spoiler on some minor characters:

Spoiler:
After Zhivago has been kidnapped into the forest army, there is a scene where he sees a beautiful rowan tree by a cliff or steep drop off, and a little later it is there that a mass execution is carried out of conspirators and moonshiners. All that is when the something clicked and the book became 'really good' from then on to me.


I'm still reading, though I'm about 85% done and expect to finish in the next few days. And speaking of all the nicknames and characters and having a hard time with it, I only just realised I'd missed a major character connection much earlier that made me laugh since it was such an important one to miss. I'll also put it in spoilers:

Spoiler:
There is the scene on the train near the early/middle part of the book where Zhivago is taken to the officer where he may have been ordered executed, but the officer 'Strelnikov' (not sure of the spelling since I'm listening) instead lets him go with a severe warning. I've only just now at the end of the book realised that Strelnikov is Lara's husband. When he comes back to the house where Zhivago is alone at and they finally meet (again), I was about knocked off my feet when I realised it was Lara's husband Pasha that could have executed Zhivago and didn't. In fact, I'm still wondering if I was supposed to have been able to make that connection or not earlier, since there are scenes throughout the book where the author takes advantage of us not being able to see the characters and purposely hides their identities in the scene until a specific moment.
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Old 03-19-2020, 07:35 PM   #22
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After restarting the book and due to distractions I am only around 50% of the way through the book. It seems for me to be getting into some sort of less fragmented story-line now and quite enjoyable.

I am finding that names are becoming less of a problem as this far into the book I can usually just know who the character is from their activity in the story-line rather than from figuring out their multiple and, to me, foreign names .
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:44 AM   #23
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I did the reset suggested and that helped a lot. I book marked the site with character names suggested earlier in this thread and from time to time have to refer to it when it jumps to a character and uses the patronymic instead of the formal name.

I've slowed way down though. Most of my reading was done early in the morning. I'd go to starbucks about 5:30 am every morning and read for about an hour before going to work. Work is mandatory telework now, and even with that I don't know if starbucks is even open anymore. Drive through may be. I've gotten out of my reading routine, but I"m starting a new routine of after work, around 3:30 going on the screen porch out back with a cup of coffee and reading for about an hour to hour and a half. It's getting warm enough to do that.

Last edited by drofgnal; 03-20-2020 at 05:47 AM.
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Old 03-23-2020, 12:43 AM   #24
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I finished about two days after my last post and can say overall I did really like the book; it's just challenging to get into it. I'm curious what the rest of you will think once you're finished.

I'm glad you're enjoying the second half more too, AnotherCat. I feel like the story does get really good around there and the names and such start falling into place.

drofgnal, glad the reset helped you. I'm not sure how far into it you are but as AnotherCat mentioned, it does get a lot easier to read in the second half.
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Old 03-23-2020, 01:21 AM   #25
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I have reached the 50% mark! Hooray! This book has been more challenging than I expected, but I do enjoy the plot and am learning more about the Russian revolutionary time period that I did know. I am reading faster now that I am establishing a more routine world from the chaos going on. It was nice to spend several hours reading this weekend in my backyard and relaxing.
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Old 03-23-2020, 01:23 AM   #26
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Also, I did notice that when the train ride to the Ural Mountains was happening that the emphasis shifted from weather to also nature to tie into the mood.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:39 PM   #27
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Also, I did notice that when the train ride to the Ural Mountains was happening that the emphasis shifted from weather to also nature to tie into the mood.
Interesting observation. I think that train ride is a turning point of the book.

I'm thinking I might rewatch the old film now. I remember so little of it it'll be like a fresh viewing almost, and also nostalgic since I remember watching it in the 80s. I'm also interested in the newer version but I think I'd like to rewatch the older one first.
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Old 03-26-2020, 01:23 AM   #28
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I was surprised that the train ride lasted as long as it did. And, it is clearly the shifting point to a new part of the story with all the characters also moving locations. They are clearly fated to keep crossing each other’s paths.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:59 PM   #29
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I'm slowly getting through it, about 65 or so percent I think.

I found the lengthy part with Yuri talking to himself at around the 45% (I think) mark to be a bit tedious. Maybe there is something in that which will connect later; trouble is I will have forgotten it by then .

Regarding the lengthy train ride, where did all the passengers go to the toilet - hung on my mind all the way through the train trip. Had me crossing my legs .
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:04 PM   #30
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Regarding the lengthy train ride, where did all the passengers go to the toilet - hung on my mind all the way through the train trip. Had me crossing my legs .
Lol. From an internet search, it appears that there were toilets on trains used while the train was moving, sometimes being a hole, but that while in station they were often locked.
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