«In everything I want to get to the very heart».
Boris Pasternak by L. Pasternak (1910)
Boris’s father was Leonid Pasternak, art academician, and his mother –a well-known pianist. From his very childhood Boris was surrounded by artists and musicians. He was very fond of music and studied it for some time. But he did not have a perfect ear – no luck. Reluctantly he had to give up music aspirations. He became interested in philosophy. Soon he realized that it will not be his profession. And quite late and without any quests he turned to poetry. His first poems Pasternak published only at the age of 24, and the following year he published the book “Twin in the clouds.” Years later Pasternak completely reworked these “kid’s” poems.
But his collections of poems “Above the barriers” and especially “My Sister – life” were the works of a true Poet.
Pasternak is a searching, feeling, experiencing poet. A brilliant poet can’t live his life without channeling the reality through their thoughts, mindset and feelings.
To Live or to Create?
Since the beginning of the 1930sPasternak was trying to become part of the Soviet reality. He was participating in discussions, speaking at writers’ meetings. But … he missed a tough political line. At that time one had to create timeserving “works”. A feeling and thinking poet was not welcome. Pasternak was judged. And that was considering that he was called one of the greatest Russian poets!
Basically, between the 1930s and 1940s Pasternak hardly created anything. At that time he wrote poems dedicated to Stalin, which were published in 1935 and 1936. Pasternak created a series of works that were likely written for an average reader.
Pasternak was forced to get some translating job in order to somehow justify his inaction and make any money. Pasternak translations of Western writers and poets, such as Shakespeare for example, became classics. Simply put, Shakespeare for Russian people speaks in Pasternak voice.
Aspirations of the Poet to write and persecution. Fears for his family, lack of recognition, and the inability to express what you want.
Pasternak found some solace in the work of a writer. After the end of World War II for many years he has been writing “Doctor Zhivago”. It is on the pages of the novel where could think and reason, to describe what he saw the way he wanted it. The novel depicts a period from the beginning of the 20thcentury to the beginning of World War II, focusing on the lives of people caught in the maelstrom of the war, revolution, repartition of the worldorder.
During the time of creating “Doctor Zhivago” it seemed that the situation in the Soviet Union changed a little, it was a time of “defrosting.” But those were only smoke and mirrors. Pasternak’s novel was rejected.
In 1957 “Doctor Zhivago” was published abroad. For Pasternak it was not only a relief, but also a real opportunity to make some money.
Interestingly, the United States secret services republished the novel and distributed it to Soviet tourists, because they believed that it undermined the foundations of the Soviet system, which caused a conflict with Pasternak foreign literary agent.
Rejecting the Nobel Prize in Literature
Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958 for his lyrical poetry and for the vague “in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”, which was a reference to the novel “Doctor Zhivago”. But soon Pasternak rejected the award. On the website of the Nobel Committee there is a comment: “Boris Pasternak first accepted the award, but was later caused by the authorities of his country to decline the prize.”
In reality, awarding Pasternak with the Nobel Prize in Literature served as another reason for the persecution of the Poet and the reason for depriving him of all benefits, up to the threat of expulsion from the country, which for an elderly man without significant savings was unthinkable. The poet could not stand the bullying and died.
Around the world Pasternak is known for his novel “Doctor Zhivago”, but Pasternak-Poet is a truly brilliant phenomenon of the Russian literature of the 20thcentury.
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