Bliznets v tuchakh, 1914
Poverkh barierov, 1917 (Above the Barriers, 1959)
Sestra moia zhizn’: Leto 1917 goda; 1922 (My Sister, Life, 1964; also known as Sister My Life)
Temy i variatsii, 1923 (Themes and Variations, 1964)
Vysokaya bolezn’, 1924 (High Malady, 1958)
Carousel: Verse for Children, 1925
Devyatsot pyaty god, 1926 (The Year 1905, 1989)
Lyutenant Shmidt, 1927 (Lieutenant Schmidt, 1992)
Vtoroye rozhdeniye, 1932 (Second Birth, 1964)
Na rannikh poezdakh, 1943 (On Early Trains, 1964)
Zemnoy prostor, 1945 (The Vastness of Earth, 1964)
Kogda razgulyayetsa, 1959 (When the Skies Clear, 1964)
The Poetry of Boris Pasternak, 1917-1959, 1959
Poems, 1955-1959, 1960
In the Interlude: Poems, 1945-1960, 1962
Fifty Poems, 1963
The Poems of Doctor Zhivago, 1965
Stikhotvoreniya i poemy, 1965, 1976
The Poetry of Boris Pasternak, 1969
Selected Poems, 1983
Doktor Zhivago, 1957 (Doctor Zhivago, 1958)
“Pisma iz Tuly,” 1922 (“Letters from Tula,” 1945)
“Deststvo Liuvers,” 1923 (“The Childhood of Luvers,” 1945)
Sochineniya, 1961 (Collected Short Prose, 1977)
Slepaya krasavitsa, pb. 1969 (The Blind Beauty, 1969)
Hamlet, 1941 (of William Shakespeare)
Romeo i Juliet, 1943 (of Shakespeare)
Antony i Cleopatra, 1944 (of Shakespeare)
Othello, 1945 (of Shakespeare)
King Lear, 1949 (of Shakespeare)
Faust, 1953 (of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Maria Stuart, 1957 (of Friedrich Schiller)
Pis’ma k gruzinskim, n.d. (Letters to Georgian Friends by Boris Pasternak, 1968)
Okhrannaya gramota, 1931 (autobiography; Safe Conduct, 1945, in The Collected Prose Works)
Avtobiograficheskiy ocherk, 1958 (I Remember: Sketch for an Autobiography, 1959)
An Essay in Autobiography, 1959
The Correspondence of Boris Pasternak and Olga Freidenberg, 1910-1954, 1981
Pasternak on Art and Creativity, 1985
The Collected Prose Works, 1945
Safe Conduct: An Early Autobiography, and Other Works by Boris Pasternak, 1958 (also known as Selected Writings, 1949)
Vozdushnye puti: Proza raz nykh let, 1982
The Voice of Prose, 1986
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (PAS-tur-nak) is considered by many to be the most significant post-Revolution poet of the Soviet Union. He was born to Leonid Pasternak, an accomplished painter, and Rosa Kaufman, a concert pianist, and in their home he became acquainted with some of the foremost authors and composers of the times, among them Leo Tolstoy, Rainer Maria Rilke, Anton Rubinstein, and Aleksandr Scriabin. Under the influence of Scriabin, Pasternak first planned to become a composer, but in 1912, after interrupting his studies at Moscow University to spend the summer studying under the eminent neo-Kantian philosopher, Hermann Cohen, at the University of Marburg, his interest shifted to philosophy. While in Marburg he also experienced a disappointment in love, which he poignantly describes in his poem “Marburg.” Some time later he turned from logic to the more emotional discipline of poetry and two years later published his first volume of poetry. His early poetry shows the influences of Scriabin, Andrey Bely, and the Symbolist Aleksandr Blok. His second volume of poems, Above the Barriers, reveals the influence of Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Futurist poet whom he had met in 1917.
Unable to serve in World War I because of an earlier leg injury, he was free to devote considerable time to writing and to his thoughts on aesthetics. The Urals, where he spent two years during this period, contributed to his inspiration. During the traumatic summer of 1917, when all Russia was quaking from the first shocks of the February Revolution, he was back in Moscow working on My Sister, Life, poems that reflect contemporary events. With the publication of this volume in 1922 his significance as a poet first became recognized. The revolution, however, made it necessary for his parents to immigrate to Germany, for his father’s profession as a portrait artist emphasized individualism, which was discouraged by the Communist Party. Pasternak was with his parents only rarely thereafter.
At about the time of his marriage in 1922 to Eugenia Vladimirovna Lourie, with whom he would have two sons, he turned from lyrical poetry to narrative prose and poetry. His most significant early prose narrative was “The Childhood of Luvers,” a sensitive work in which he captures the perception of the world through the eyes of a child, a theme he was later to treat in the early chapters of Doctor Zhivago. The Year 1905 and Lieutenant Schmidt deal with the abortive revolution of 1905 and High Malady and Spektorsky with the post-1917 period. In these he comes closest to the kind of ideological approach the Party demanded at the time. (Vladimir Mayakovsky, who had encouraged this approach, committed suicide in 1930.) In 1931 Pasternak and Lourie were divorced, and he married Zinaida Neuhaus. That same year he published his first autobiographical work, Safe Conduct, which provides extremely valuable insights into Pasternak’s poetical and artistic development. When the Party banned it as an “idealistic” work, he returned to lyrical poetry but with a more restrained, realistic style. Second Birth was the last volume of his poetry to appear for a decade. Then in 1943 and 1945 he published two thin volumes of poems: On Early Trains and The Vastness of Earth. The poems of this later period are characterized by a rich simplicity, and they are more religious in tone and imagery and more meditative than his earlier work.
The Zhdanov decree of 1946 sought to restore Party control over art and to restrict Western influence. This attempt of the political authorities to control literary production and to use it for propaganda through the new Socialist Realism caused Pasternak to divert his talents to translating significant German and English works, including those of Shakespeare. His translations are highly regarded. That same year he met Olga Ivinskaya, who became the inspiration for the figure of Lara in Doctor Zhivago. One year later they became lovers. In 1949, in an effort to gather information on Pasternak, the government arrested Olga; when she refused to incriminate him, they transferred her to a Siberian labor camp in 1951, from which she was not released until after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953.
No original work by Pasternak appeared between the Zhdanov decree and Stalin’s death in 1953, but he was at work on his novel Doctor Zhivago. In 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev began his de-Stalinization drive, Pasternak presented his completed manuscript to the journal Novy mir, which refused to publish it unless it were radically cut and revised. As a result, it was first published in Italian in 1957 and in English in 1958. The novel became a psychological symbol of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West, where its reception resulted in the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958. Pasternak felt compelled to refuse the honor, hoping to diffuse the tense situation in which he found himself in his own country, but he was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers in 1958 and continued to suffer attacks from the Soviet press for the rest of his life. Although he continued his creative work, except for his translations and individual poems in journals and anthologies, none of his works appeared in Russia until after his death.
He died quietly at his home in Peredelkino on May 30, 1960, from heart disease and cancer. Many artists, writers, and admirers defied the authorities and formed the funeral procession. Before the year was over, Olga Ivinskaya and her daughter had been deported to Siberia. Five years later Pasternak’s poetry was published in the Soviet Union with an appreciative, insightful introduction. The Soviets waited, however, until the glasnost movement of Mikhail Gorbachev before an official edition of Doctor Zhivago appeared in their country.