Life And Destiny
Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak (Pantheon, New York, 1958, 559 pp., $5), is reviewed by G. H. Todd, Pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In 1903 there appeared in America a book from the pen of John Fox, Jr., which was destined to enjoy great popularity. It was titled The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come. The novel opened in a graveyard of the Kentucky mountains. A lad named Chad, accompanied by his dog, watches as neighbors gently lower into a shallow trench the encoffined body of his mother. Nearby are three mounds evincing the tombs of a gaunt mountaineer father, his son, and daughter, victims of a recent plague. As was the case at the burial of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, no funeral service was read, no songs of faith were sung, inasmuch as no circuit rider was in the region at the moment.
It is a far cry indeed from The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come to Pasternak’s vast and intricate novel of recent Russian history, Doctor Zhivago. Both novels have one feature in common. They open with the lugubrious scene of a boy at the open grave of his mother. Amid the chanting of Eastern Orthodox rites, the boy, who is to be known in his maturity as Dr. Zhivago, stands amid the bare autumn landscape as his mother’s coffin is closed, nailed, and lowered into the ground. Beside him stands his maternal uncle, a former Eastern Orthodox priest, who on the morrow will speak to the sorrowing boy of Christ.
Doctor Zhivago is the story of a physician who also indulged in the creation of literature and poetry. Lord Moynihan, the British surgeon, in his Truants has given us an amazing catalogue of medical doctors who have achieved fame in the realm of letters. That high company ranges from “The Beloved ...1
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