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Olga Ivinskaya; Inspiration for 'Dr. Zhivago's' Lara

September 16, 1995

Olga Ivinskaya, 83, the mistress of Boris Pasternak who became the model for his heroine, Lara, in his epic novel "Dr. Zhivago." Twice imprisoned because of her liaison with the Nobel Prize-winning author, Mrs. Ivinskaya had fought unsuccessfully during her later years to retrieve love letters and poems that he had written to her. The beautiful woman, played by Julie Christie in the 1965 film of Pasternak's story of revolutionary Russia, had been married twice before she met Pasternak in 1946. A junior editor who later worked as a literary translator, she was 20 years younger than the author. Although he claimed to love her, he refused to leave his wife, and for many years spent nights at home but days in a dacha with Mrs. Ivinskaya. Memoirs and letters show that Mrs. Ivinskaya was clearly the model for the troubled heroine Lara. The real-life mistress suffered imprisonment in 1949 and after Pasternak's death in 1960 because of his persecution by Joseph Stalin. Mrs. Ivinskaya detailed her life with the author in her own memoirs, "A Prisoner of Time." On Sept. 8 in Moscow of cancer.

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