The sound of silence in Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago

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Influence of classical music and composers like Scriabin is clearly visible in the syntax and phonology of Pasternak’s poetical language. His “composer’s ear” [cf. in De Mallac, 1981] - profound sense of rhythm, harmony, sound, but also silence - is traceable throughout literary language in his famous novel Doctor Zhivago, one of the greatest novels about the fall of the Imperial Russia, and the end of the monarchy in war and revolution ever written. This paper investigates some aspects of the relationship between art, violence, and revolution, i.e. between imaginary world of revolutionary and postrevolutionary (Soviet) Russia in Doctor Zhivago, and the ways in which the novel captivates those events through sounds of a crowd and city in turmoil, but even more importantly - through intense moments of silence. Departing from the premises that sounds and silence are physical states, but also aesthetic and cultural devices, the aim of this paper is to answer the following questions. What is the meaning of antithesis of sound and silence as a metaphor of “double” meaning in Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago where silence indicates violence, war, and revolution as well as contains in itself the energy of creation, creative impulse? Especially in relation to “paradoxical materiality” [Miller, 2007] of silence, where this state of complete muteness and stillness represents simultaneously emptiness - but also plentitude, weightlessness - but also heaviness, the paper analyzes the symbolism of silence in Pasternak’s novel. Is Pasternak’s profound uses of silence signifier of an amputation of Doctor Zhivago’s protagonists from the world of violent revolutionary Russia into their own, private, intimate worlds of introspection, or it is rather a signifier of their resistance against popular representation of revolution as universal political and cultural project of emancipation and freedom for all? In other words, can Pasternak’s “rhetoric of silence” in Doctor Zhivago be understood as a state of plentitude and knowing (S. Sontag), i.e. as a method of radical speech of silenced and whispering protagonists rather than of their muteness as a consequence of their (bourgeois) laid-backness and passivity?


Boris pasternak, artistic biography, doctor zhivago, speech, silence, metaphor of silence, modernism, history, war, revolution

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IDR: 144161996   |   DOI: 10.25146/2587-7844-2019-8-4-29

Список литературы The sound of silence in Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago

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