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 Boris Pasternak


Born:   February 10, 1890
Deceased:   May 30, 1960

Russian poet; wrote the novel Doctor Zhivago that brought him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958

      

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born in Moscow on the 10th of February 1890 into a family of talented Jewish people. His father, Leonid, was a painter and worked as a professor at the Moscow School of Painting and also illustrated Tolstoy's works. Pasternaks mother was a well-known pianist. Boris received education at German Gymnasium in Moscow; then he entered the University of Moscow and later continued his education at the University of Marburg in Germany, where he studied philosophy. However, finally he gave up his academic carrier and decided to dedicate himself to literature.

Pasternak started with verse, but his first works and books of poetry were of no success. The first works that brought him success were My Sister Life (1922) inspired by his love to a Jewish girl, and Themes and Variations (1923), after which Pasternak was recognized as one of the leading poets of that time. In 1924 he published Sublime Malady that depicted his vision of the revolt of 1905 and The Childhood of Luvers - a story about a young girl reaching womanhood, written in a lyrical and psychological style. The following year Pasternak published a collection of four short stories called Aerial Ways. In 1927 Pasternak published two big works touching the topic of the revolution of 1905 again: Lieutenant Schmidt, a sorrowful poem about the fate of Lieutenant Schmidt who was the leader of the rebellion in Sevastopol, and The Year 1905 an expressive but to some extent vague poem focusing on the events related to the revolution of 1905. In 1931 Pasternak published an autobiography entitled Safe Conduct and the next year in 1932 he released a collection of lyrics called Second Birth. In 1935 Pasternak published his own translations of a number of Georgian poets and later translations of the major of Shakespeares dramas, a number of works written by Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Ben Jonson and poems by Petöfi, Verlaine, Swinburne, Shelley, and some other authors. In 1943 he published a collection of poems entitled In Early Trains written since 1936 that later were republished and enlarged and in 1945 under the title Wide Spaces of the Earth.

Pasternaks only novel Doktor Zhivago (if not count his earlier "novel in verse" Spektorsky) was an autobiographic work based on Pasternak`s experience of working at a chemical factory in the Urals during WWI. He was rejected to publish his novel in the Soviet magazine Novy Mir. The manuscript of Doktor Zhivago was secretly shipped out of the Soviet Union and in 1957 it was published in Italy. The novel was approved by some critics and recognized as a successful attempt to combine lyrical-descriptive and epic-dramatic styles.

In 1958 Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature but due to having been persecuted by the Soviet authorities as a traitor he was unable to go to take the prize and was forced to decline it. In 1959 Pasternak published an autobiographical essay entitled An Essay in Autobiography that was published first in Italian and later in English. Pasternak died in Moscow on May 30, 1960.

In 1988, after the USSR collapse, Doctor Zhivago was finally published in the Novy Mir magazine as a sign of the new post-Soviet epoch. In 1989 Pasternaks son was given his fathers Nobel Prize in Stockholm.


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