Boris Pasternak

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born in Moscow to talented artists: his father a painter and illustrator of Tolstoy's works, his mother a well-known concert pianist. Though his parents were both Jewish, they became Christianized, first as Russian Orthodox and later as Tolstoyan Christians. Pasternak's education began in a German Gymnasium in Moscow and was continued at the University of Moscow. Under the influence of the composer Scriabin, Pasternak took up the study of musical composition for six years from 1904 to 1910. By 1912 he had renounced music as his calling in life and went to the University of Marburg, Germany, to study philosophy. After four months there and a trip to Italy, he returned to Russia and decided to dedicate himself to literature.Pasternak's first books of verse went unnoticed. With My Sister Life, 1922, and Themes and Variations, 1923, the latter marked by an extreme, though sober style, Pasternak first gained a place as a leading poet among his Russian contemporaries. In 1924 he published Sublime Malady, which portrayed the 1905 revolt as he saw it, and The Childhood of Luvers, a lyrical and psychological depiction of a young girl on the threshold of womanhood. A collection of four short stories was published the following year under the title Aerial Ways. In 1927 Pasternak again returned to the revolution of 1905 as a subject for two long works: "Lieutenant Schmidt", a poem expressing threnodic sorrow for the fate of the Lieutenant, the leader of the mutiny at Sevastopol, and "The Year 1905", a powerful but diffuse poem which concentrates on the events related to the revolution of 1905. Pasternak's reticent autobiography, Safe Conduct, appeared in 1931, and was followed the next year by a collection of lyrics, Second Birth, 1932. In 1935 he published translations of some Georgian poets and subsequently translated the major dramas of Shakespeare, several of the works of Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, and Ben Jonson, and poems by Petöfi, Verlaine, Swinburne, Shelley, and others. In Early Trains, a collection of poems written since 1936, was published in 1943 and enlarged and reissued in 1945 as Wide Spaces of the Earth. In 1957 Doctor Zhivago, Pasternak's only novel - except for the earlier "novel in verse", Spektorsky (1926) - first appeared in an Italian translation and has been acclaimed by some critics as a successful attempt at combining lyrical-descriptive and epic-dramatic styles. Pasternak lived in Peredelkino, near Moscow, until his death in 1960.
vida del autor: 10 Febrero 1890 30 Mayo 1960



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-but at home in history, while the work toward the conquest of death is in full swing; he dies sharing in this work. Ouf! I got quite worked up, didn't I? But I might as well be talking to a blank wall."

"That's metaphysics, my dear fellow. It's forbidden by my doctors, my stomach won't take it."

"Oh well, you're hopeless. Let's leave it. Goodness, what a view, you lucky devil. Though I suppose as you live with it every day you don't see it."

It was hard to keep one's eyes on the shimmering river, which, like a sheet of polished metal, reflected the glare of the sun. Suddenly its surface parted in waves. A big ferry loaded with carts, horses, and peasants and their women started for the other shore.

"Just think, it's only a little after five," said Ivan Ivanovich. "There's the express from Syzran. It passes here at five past five."

Far out on the plain, crossing it from right to left, came a neat little yellow and blue train, tiny in the distance. Suddenly they noticed that it had stopped. White puffs of steam flurried over the engine, and then came a prolonged whistle. "That's strange," said Voskoboinikov. "Something's wrong. It has no business to stop in the middle of t
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Doctor Zhivago

Boris Pasternak

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The Five-O'Clock Express

On they went, singing "Rest Eternal," and whenever they stopped, their feet, the horses, and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing.

Passers-by made way for the procession, counted the wreaths, and crossed themselves. Some joined in out of curiosity and asked: "Who is being buried?"-"Zhivago," they were told.-"Oh, I see. That's what it is."-"It isn't him. It's his wife."-"Well, it comes to the same thing. May her soul rest in peace. It's a fine funeral."

The last moments slipped by, one by one, irretrievable. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the earth and everything that dwells therein." The priest, with the gesture of a cross, scattered earth over the body of Maria Nikolaievna. They sang "The souls of the righteous." Then a fearful bustle began. The coffin was closed, nailed, and lowered into the ground. Clods of earth rained on the lid as the grave was hurriedly filled by four spades. A little mound formed. A ten-year-old boy climbed on it. Only the state of stupor and insensibility which is gradually induced by all big funerals could have created the impression that he intended to speak over his mother's grave.

He raised his head and from his vantage point absently glanced about the bare autumn landscape and the domes of the monastery. His snub-nosed face became contorted and he stretched out his neck. If a wolf cub had done this, everyone would have thought that it was about to howl. The boy covered his face with his hands and burst into sobs. The wind bearing down on him lashed his hands and face with cold gusts of rain. A man in black with tightly fitting sleeves went up to the grave. This was Nikolai Nikolaievich Vedeniapin, the dead woman's brother and the uncle of the weeping boy; a former priest, he had been unfrocked at his own request. He went up to the boy and led him out of the graveyard.

They spent the night at the monastery, where Uncle Nikolai was given a room for old times' sake. It was on the eve of the Feast of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin. The next day they were supposed to travel south to a provincial town on the Volga where Uncle Nikolai worked for the publisher of the local progressive newspaper. They had bought their tickets and their things stood packed in the cell. The station was near by, and they could hear the plaintive hooting of engines shunting in the distance.

It grew very cold that evening. The two windows of the cell were at ground level and looked out on a corner of the neglected kitchen garden, a stretch of the main road with frozen puddles on it, and the part of the churchyard where Maria Nikolaievna had been buried earlier in the day. There was nothing in the kitchen garden except acacia bushes around the walls and a few beds of cabbages, wrinkled and blue with cold. With each blast of wind the leafless acacias danced as if possessed and then lay flat on the path.

During the night the boy, Yura, was wakened by a knocking at the window. The dark cell was mysteriously lit up by a flickering whiteness. With nothing on but his shirt, he ran to the window and pressed his face against the cold glass.

Outside there was no trace of the road, the graveyard, or the kitchen garden, nothing but the blizzard, the air smoking with snow. It was almost as if the snowstorm had caught sight of Yura and, conscious of its power to terrify, roared and howled, doing everything possible to impress him. Turning over and over in the sky, length after length of whiteness unwound over the earth and shrouded it. The blizzard was alone in the world; it had no rival.

When he climbed down from the window sill Yura's first impulse was to dress, run outside, and start doing something. He was afraid that the cabbage patch would be buried so that no one could dig it out and that his mother would helplessly sink deeper and deeper away from him into the ground.

Once more it ended in tears. His uncle woke up, spoke to him of Christ, and tried to comfort him, then yawned and stood thoughtfully by the window. Day was breaking. They began to dress.

While his mother was alive Yura did not know that his father had abandoned them long ago, leading a dissolute life in Siberia and abroad and squandering the family millions. He was always told that his father was away on business in Petersburg or at one of the big fairs, usually at Irbit.
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The Sventitskys' Christmas Party
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