Boris Pasternak: The Man Behind ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and His Impact on World Literature

Boris Pasternak

Born on this day February 10, 1890 in Moscow, Boris Pasternak, a renowned Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator was a seminal figure in 20th-century world literature. His most notable work, Doctor Zhivago, an epic tale set in the tumultuous period of Russian history from the beginning of the 20th century to the Second World War, garnered him international acclaim and controversy. The novel’s richness in character development, its philosophical and poetic language, and its vivid portrayal of the Russian landscape and society makes it a masterpiece of modern literature.

Pasternak’s oeuvre extends beyond Doctor Zhivago. He was also an accomplished poet who began his literary career in the 1910s. His poetry, characterized by its emotional intensity and innovative use of language, had a profound impact on Russian and global poetry. Pasternak’s contribution to world literature is not limited to his original works; he was also a revered translator who introduced Russian readers to a multitude of Western classics.

The legacy of Boris Pasternak continues to influence world literature. His exploration of human nature, love, and the impact of political upheaval on ordinary lives has inspired countless authors and readers alike. Despite the controversy that surrounded him during his lifetime – notably his forced refusal of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 due to political pressure – his works remain timeless.

Moreover, Pasternak’s courage in depicting Soviet realities through his writings – at great personal risk – has underscored the power of literature as a tool for social criticism and political resistance. His life and works serve as a testament to the transformative power of literature and its ability to transcend borders and cultures. In conclusion, Boris Pasternak’s profound impact on world literature is undeniable, rendering him one of the most influential literary figures of the 20th century.

February. Take ink and weep,

February. Take ink and weep,
write February as you’re sobbing,
while black Spring burns deep
through the slush and throbbing.

Take a cab. For a clutch of copecks,
through bell-towers’ and wheel noise,
go where the rain-storm’s din breaks,
greater than crying or ink employs.

Where rooks in thousands falling,
like charred pears from the skies,
drop down into puddles, bringing
cold grief to the depths of eyes.

Below, the black shows through,
and the wind’s furrowed with cries:
the more freely, the more truly
then, sobbing verse is realised.

-Boris Pasternak

Curated by Jennifer

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