...not anything like the great nineteenth-century Russian novels. It lacks the old-fashioned fullness of detail, the self-dramatizing “big” characters who struggle against an utterly provincial background to realize their freedom.
...to describe a hero who has to make a world, to be the spirit of life itself to people fatalistically sunk in tyranny and subjection.
...we are now so likely to be in sympathy with Pasternak, to identify ourselves with his motive in writing the book, that we can be almost too eager to praise the novel and to overlook those sides of it that are merely doctrinaire, theoretical, and sentimental.
The stormy sky had cleared. In the hot, sunny fields, crickets chirped loudly, muffling the clatter of the train.
... All around people wre shouting, bawling songs, quarrelling, and playing cards. Whenever the train stopped, the noise of the besieging crowds outside was added to the turmoil. ...
Then, like a telegram delivered on the train, or like greetings from Meliuzeievo addressed to Yurii Andreievich, there drifted in through the windows a familiar fragrance. It came from somewhere to one side and higher than the level or either garden or wild flowers, and it quietly asserted its excellence over everything else.
Kept from the windows by the crowd, the doctor could not see the trees, but he imagined them growing somewhere very near, calmly stretching out their heavy branches to the carriage roofs, and their foliage, covered with dust from the passing trains and thick as night, was sprinkled with constellations of small, glittering waxen flowers.
This happened time and again throughout the trip. There were roaring crowds at every station. And everywhere the linden trees were in blossom.
This ubiquitous fragrance seemed to be preceding the train on its journey north as if it were some sort of rumor that had reached even the smallest, local stations, and which the passengers always found waiting for them on arrival, heard and confirmed by everyone.
...none of the great Russian prose writers of the nineteenth century, with the possible exception of Turgenev, was on easy terms with the novel as a genre. Gogol called Dead Souls, his only novel-length work [my note: and unfinished, at that], a poem.