Winter in July – Dr Zhivago and Pasternak’s poems, 1968


Pen and ink illustrations by Bill Greer for Boris Pasternak’s poems from Doctor Zhivago. They were issued as a single volume in 1969, and followed David Lean’s film from the year before with Julie Christie and Omar Sharif. The stills are taken from Lean’s film.

I remember Doctor Zhivago being screened on a Sunday evening sometime in the late 1970s. Even in black and white the scenes of the palace in winter made a lasting impression.

A favourite couple of words for me are ‘russian snow’. They don’t come up very often, but when they do, this is what I see – with all the melancholy of the closing scenes. Thank you, Mr Lean…

When putting this post together, I found some of the film stills on a blog called The Museum of Dying Giants, by an artist called Gwyneth Scally. If you like the atmosphere of this post, have a look here. She credits David Lean’s film as an inspiration.


2 thoughts on “Winter in July – Dr Zhivago and Pasternak’s poems, 1968

  1. I love these illustrations – have never seen that version of the poems. This was always one of my absolute favourite films – from my impressionably romantic youth! It still gets me every time I see it – the combination of Russia and snow as you say + Julie Christie and Omar Sharif is just irresistible. Those stills are great and I did look at the blog you recommended.

    • I found it lost in a charity shop in Dorset, looking unread with a wrapper of the winter hunting lodge – a small, slim volume published by Roger Schlesinger. I really like Tom Courtenay and Rita Tushingham in it too – the kitchen sink stars from a rainy north in an epic Russia!

      There was another film of the time called ‘Mayerling’ which I remember from TV, with a doomed ending – Catherine Deneuve and Omar Sharif. That hadn’t aged well though when I saw it at as an adult (needed a David Lean I expect!).

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