Real-Life ‘Zhivago’ Heroine Dies At 82


Olga Ivinskaya, the Russian beauty enshrined as Lara in Boris Pasternak’s novel “Doctor Zhivago” and twice jailed because of her relationship with the author, has died at age 82.

Ivinskaya, muse to Pasternak and survivor of revolution, war and decades of persecution, was buried Tuesday after a religious ceremony in a church in central Moscow, Russian television reported.

The report didn’t say when she had died or give the cause of her death.

She was an editor at the Novy Mir literary magazine in Moscow when she met Pasternak shortly after World War II. In her memoir, “A Captive of Time,” she described the encounter as “a meeting with God.”

Pasternak and Ivinskaya soon became romantically involved. She served as the model for Lara, the heroine of “Doctor Zhivago,” a sweeping, critical portrait of the Russian Revolution that earned Pasternak the Nobel Prize for literature in 1958 - and the enduring enmity of the Soviet regime.

The relationship was not an easy one, as Pasternak continued to live with his wife at the writers colony in Peredelkino near Moscow and set up a separate household with Ivinskaya there.

Soviet authorities, trying to pressure Pasternak into abandoning his criticism of the regime, arrested Ivinskaya in 1949. She was sentenced to four years of hard labor and had a stillborn child in jail.

Ivinskaya did not betray her love, and Pasternak wrote in notes published in her book: “I owe my life and that during those years they did not touch me to her heroism and endurance.”

Ivinskaya described her release in 1953 as “wild happiness and finally total calm,” saying she and Pasternak had decided to “live together in any form life took.”

She was at Pasternak’s side during the well-orchestrated storm of attacks from Soviet authorities and the general public following publication of “Doctor Zhivago” abroad. The novel was deemed anti-Soviet, and there were demands for Pasternak’s expulsion or arrest.

“Never before between us was there such a unanimity of the hearts. It was like in the novel,” wrote Ivinskaya.

As punishment for her relationship with the writer, she was arrested again after his death in 1960 and sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. She was released in 1964.

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