Moscow as the main heroine in Pasternak´s novel Doctor Zhivago?


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In 2008, Robert N. St. Clair and Wei Song published a book entitled The Many Layers of Culture Within Each City, applying their analytical framework to case studies of Harbin, Rio de Janeiro, Venice and Lisbon (St. Clair & Song, 2008). Invited to write a preface to their book, it struck me that a number of other cities could have been included. This influenced me to revisit an earlier text I had written in 1995 on the Russian writer Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) and his novel Doctor Zhivago, which won him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1958. My text was concerned with Pasternak’s literary prowess, especially his stylistic use of anthropomorphisms which are so typical of his style, and which infuse life into the prose and poetry parts of this great novel (Vaagan, 1996). But there were also many other ideas I had to set aside, including the role of the capital Moscow as a possible main character or heroine in the novel. Few would question the existence of many layers of culture in Moscow with its complex history, but is there enough justification to consider the city as the main heroine of the novel?




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