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Boris Pasternak
Born Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1890
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died 30 May 1960(1960-05-30) (aged 70)
Peredelkino, USSR
Occupation Poet, writer
Nationality Russian, Soviet
Notable works My Sister, Life, The Second Birth, Doctor Zhivago
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1890 – 30 May 1960) was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. His parents were Jewish Ukrainians. In his native Russia, Pasternak's anthology My Sister, Life, is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language. Furthermore, Pasternak's translations of plays by Goethe, Schiller and Shakespeare are deeply popular with Russian audiences.

Outside Russia, Pasternak is best known as the author of Doctor Zhivago, a novel which takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the Second World War. Due to its independent minded stance on the socialist state, Doctor Zhivago was refused publication in the USSR. The typescript of Doctor Zhivago was smuggled to Milan and published in 1957.

Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature the following year, an event which humiliated and enraged the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the midst of a massive campaign against him by the CPSU and the Union of Soviet Writers, Pasternak reluctantly agreed to decline the prize. In his letter to the Nobel Committee, Pasternak stated the reaction of the Soviet State was the only reason for his decision. He is still listed as the winner for that year.

By the time of his death from lung cancer in 1960, the campaign against Pasternak had damaged the international credibility of the U.S.S.R. He is still a major figure in Russian literature. Furthermore, the samizdat methods were later continued, expanded, and refined by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and other Soviet dissidents.

  • Boris Pasternak 1957. Doctor Zhivago. Pantheon Books
  • Boris Pasternak 1959. I Remember: sketches for an autobiography. Pantheon Books.
  • Boris Pasternak 1967. Sister, my life: Summer 1917. transl. C. Flayderman. Washington Square Press.
  • Olga Ivinskaya 1978. A captive of time; my years with Pasternak. Doubleday.

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