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Boris Pasternak (1890–1960)

Author of Doctor Zhivago

284+ Works 13,678 Members 173 Reviews 26 Favorited

About the Author

Pasternak was acclaimed as a major poet some 30 years before Doctor Zhivago (1955) made him world famous. After first pursuing promising careers in music and philosophy, he started to write around 1909 and published his first collection of verse in 1914. His first genuine triumph came with the show more collection My Sister, Life (1917), in which a love affair stimulates a rapturous celebration of nature. The splendid imagery and difficult syntax of this volume are a hallmark of the early Pasternak. During the 1920s, Pasternak tried to accept the reality of the new society and moved from the lyric to the epic, taking up historical and contemporary subjects. The long poem The Year 1905 (1926) is an example. While tolerated by the literary establishment, Pasternak turned increasingly in the 1930s to translation rather than original verse. He was a prolific translator; his versions of major Shakespeare plays are the standard texts used in Soviet theaters. From the start, however, prose was an important focus for Pasternak. The most notable early work is the story "Zhenia's Childhood," written in 1918, which explored a girl's developing consciousness of her surroundings. There is also his artistic and intellectual autobiography Safe Conduct (1931). But Pasternak's greatest prose achievement came later with the novel Doctor Zhivago, written over a number of years and completed in 1955. Its hero, a physician and poet, confronts the great changes of the early twentieth century including world war, revolution, and civil war, and travels a path through life that creates a parallel between his fate and that of Christ. (The theme of preordained sacrifice is strengthened by the cycle of poems included as the last section of the book.) Doctor Zhivago was rejected for publication but appeared in 1957 in the West and won its author worldwide acclaim. A Nobel Prize followed in 1958. This led the Soviet authorities to launch a major public campaign against Pasternak and to make his personal life even more difficult. So successful were they that the poet officially turned down the award. After that, he was left in relative peace and died two years later. He was but the first of many writers in the post-Stalin period to challenge the Soviet state. During the 1970s and 1980s, Pasternak's heritage was cautiously brought into public purview in the Soviet Union. The Gorbachev period saw the removal of all restrictions on his work, and publication of Doctor Zhivago followed at long last. Several major editions of Pasternak's writings have appeared. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. Boris Pasternak.


Works by Boris Pasternak

Doctor Zhivago (1957) 11,419 copies
Safe Conduct (1949) 260 copies
The Poems of Dr. Zhivago (1967) 244 copies
The Last Summer (1934) 216 copies
My Sister — Life (1922) — Author — 82 copies
An Essay in Autobiography (1955) 71 copies
Letters to Georgian Friends (1967) 56 copies
Dr. Zhivago: Volume 2 (1957) 38 copies
Dr. Zhivago: Volume 1 (1957) 37 copies
Fifty Poems (1963) 37 copies
The Blind Beauty (1969) 31 copies
Second Nature: Poems (1990) 23 copies
Vier verhalen 21 copies
Brieven (2018) 19 copies
Verhalen (2017) 17 copies
Prose and Poems (1945) 17 copies
Correspondance 1922-1936 (2004) — Author — 13 copies
Year Nineteen-five (1989) 13 copies
Selected Writings (1949) 13 copies
En berättelse (1958) 11 copies
The Voice of Prose (1750) 10 copies
Collected short prose (1945) 10 copies
Stihotvorenija i poemy (1988) 9 copies
Pasternak : Oeuvres (1990) 9 copies
Poesie d'amore 7 copies
Días únicos (2012) 7 copies
Dikter (2008) 6 copies
My Sister Life and The Zhivago Poems (2012) — Author — 6 copies
Relatos (1986) 6 copies
Lieutenant Schmidt (1992) 5 copies
Selected Poems 5 copies
Poesie inedite 4 copies
Peredelkino (2003) 4 copies
Poesie (2009) 4 copies
Insanlar ve Haller (2013) 4 copies
Cartas del verano de 1926 (2012) 4 copies
Свеча горела (2016) 4 copies
Gedichten (1958) 4 copies
Correspondance avec Boris Pasternak et Souvenirs (1991) — Author — 4 copies
Cartas a Renata (1968) 4 copies
Stikhi 3 copies
Poémes: На фр.яз. (2008) 3 copies
Poèmes (1989) 3 copies
Prosa und Essays (1991) 3 copies
Trentatré poesie (1999) 3 copies
Selected Poems (1946) 3 copies
Temy i variatsii (2006) 2 copies
Dr. Zhivago: A Novel (1958) 2 copies
Poems 1955-1959 2 copies
Tutti i poemi 2 copies
Poems 1955-1959. (1960) 2 copies
Opere narrative (1994) 2 copies
Quan escampi (2020) 2 copies
Boris Pasternak: Poems (1959) 2 copies
/Poesie! 2 copies
Yo recuerdo 2 copies
Versek (1990) 2 copies
Vysokaia bolezn' (2009) 2 copies
Drømmen om en sommer (1986) 2 copies
Correspondance: 1910-1954 (1987) — Author — 2 copies
Correspondance avec Evguénia: 1921-1960 (1997) — Author — 2 copies
Ma sœur la vie : et autres poèmes (1982) — Author — 2 copies
Rusia. Volumen 2 — Contributor — 2 copies
Doktor Zjivago 2 copies
Son Yaz 2 copies
Liriche e prose 2 copies
Poesie 1 copy
Stikhotvorenija (2019) 1 copy
Поезия 1 copy
Esencias 1 copy
About Love / O lyubvi (2010) 1 copy
Pasternak 1 copy
Gedichte und Poeme (1996) 1 copy
Lirika (2006) 1 copy
Il salvacondotto (1990) 1 copy
Childhood 1 copy
O günler (1995) 1 copy
Světlohra 1 copy
Izbrannoe (2005) 1 copy
Okhrannaia gramota (2011) 1 copy
Lyrika 1 copy
Boris Pasternak (2010) 1 copy
1958 1 copy
Poemas 1 copy
Poemes (2004) 1 copy
RELATO. (1958) 1 copy
Môj život 1 copy
Pesmi 1 copy
Opere 1 copy
Poemas (2001) 1 copy
Relatos (1958) 1 copy
Poetry 1 copy
Poetry 1 copy
El doctor zhigavo (1901) 1 copy
Bir Hikaye (2020) 1 copy
DOKTOR ZIVAGO 1-2 (2000) 1 copy
Melodia Interrompida (2002) 1 copy
Erken Trenlerde (2013) 1 copy
Poesia Prosa 1 copy
Dr. Chivago 1 copy

Associated Works

Faust I & II (1808) — Translator, some editions — 5,449 copies
Doctor Zhivago [1965 film] (1965) — Original novel — 349 copies
Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993) — Contributor — 335 copies
Letters: Summer 1926 (1985) 225 copies
The Stray Dog Cabaret (2006) — Contributor — 116 copies
The Penguin book of Russian poetry (2015) — Contributor — 91 copies
Great Soviet Short Stories (1962) — Contributor — 77 copies
Great Stories by Nobel Prize Winners (1959) — Contributor — 77 copies
Russian Poets (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets) (2009) — Contributor — 65 copies
1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution (2016) — Contributor — 35 copies
Poems of Boris Pasternak (1984) — Associated Name — 19 copies
The Penguin New Writing No. 30 (1947) — Contributor — 15 copies
14 Great Short Stories By Soviet Authors (1959) — Contributor — 15 copies
Dr. Zhivago [2002 TV mini series] (2003) — Original book — 14 copies
Russische verhalen (1965) — Contributor — 11 copies
Noonday 1: Stories, Articles, Poetry (1958) — Contributor — 8 copies
Russland das große Lesebuch (2017) — Contributor — 4 copies
New World Writing : 15 (1959) — Contributor — 4 copies
Pasternak par lui-meme (1963) — Contributor — 3 copies
The voice of Scotland — Contributor — 1 copy


19th century (85) 20th century (263) anthology (117) autobiography (74) Boris Pasternak (69) classic (343) classics (415) drama (344) fiction (1,679) Folio Society (77) German (172) German literature (253) Germany (73) Goethe (77) hardcover (71) historical fiction (257) history (68) letters (70) literature (655) Nobel Prize (98) novel (329) Pasternak (101) plays (87) poetry (914) read (91) revolution (82) Roman (93) romance (142) Russia (766) Russian (439) Russian fiction (78) Russian literature (763) Russian Revolution (202) Soviet Union (117) theatre (153) to-read (812) translation (123) unread (146) war (105) WWI (68)

Common Knowledge



Dr. Zhivago in Folio Society Devotees (September 2022)
Dr Zhivago in Fans of Russian authors (June 2018)


The fictional life of a physician and poet during the Russian revolution and civil war
This edition is translated by Nicholas Pasternak Slater, Boris' grandson, bound with poems of Yuri Zhivago with reproductions of paintings and drawings by Leonid Pasternak, Boris' father.
This saga opens with the early years of Zhivago and his friends, growing up in Moscow and the Urals, students from wealthy families. Zhivago is a medical student during the 1905 revolution, witnesses the Cossack charge into the revolutionaries. At the same time, Lara, his love of his later years, is losing her virginity to Komorovsky, a wealthy lawyer. In distress, she shoots and wounds him at a party, but the event is ignored by the wealthy guests. Komorovsky feels guilty and supports Lara's education and work for a seamstress Yuri and Lara meet when she is a nurse, and he a doctor, at the western front in WW1. Lara had gone there to search for her husband Pavel Pavelovich Antipov, a son of the family that owned Varykino, the estate where Zhivago takes refuge later in the novel. Antipov is an ensign in the Russian army, but is reported killed in an assault but surfaces later as a feared revolutionary leader Strelnikov, and still later as a fugitive hunted by the Bolsheviks. At the end of the war, Zhivago returns to Moscow. He had married Tonia, a friend from his youth, and they have two children. Zhivago is working as a hospital doctor, but there is no food or firewood in Moscow after the confiscations of revolutionary socialism. They decide to move to Varykino, an estate near Yuratyn, a town in the Urals, where they had spent summers in their youth. They manage to grow food, and keep themselves warm over a winter, but Lara is living in Yuraytin, and on his frequent trips to the library in town, Zhivago meets her again, and they become lovers. On one of his trips to town, Zhivago is seized by partisans to be their doctor. He is with them in Siberia, surrounded by the White Armies in the taiga. Tonia goes back to Moscow and obtains pernission to emigrate to France with her father and children. Zhivago learns of this only after he escapes the partisans. He arrives back in Yuraytin in rags and starving, but Lara is still there, and they again become lovers. They move to the estate at Varykino for a few weeks, living on potatoes, exchanging rapurous words, until Komarovsky, still caring for Lara, arrives to offer Lara, her daughter, and Zhivago, escape to the far east, where Komarovsky is a high minister. Zhivago obscurely feels it is his duty to go back to Moscow, to find out the fate of his family, and tricks Lara to going to the east with Komorovsky. Pavel Antipov shows up the night Lara leaves, has a long philosophical talk with Zhivago, then shoots himself before the Bolsheviks find him. In the final chapters, Zhivago returns to Moscow, but abandons his medical skills, lives in poverty relieved only by his old friends Gordon and Dudurov, takes a common law wife. He disappears when his brother finds him, to rehabilitate himself, but dies of a heart attack on his way to a new hospital post. Lara somehow walks in on his funeral, and in an epilogue, following Gordon and Dudurov in WW2, Lara's daughter surfaces as a washerwoman for their regiment. She knows nothing of her mother, but Zhivago's brother, now a general, hearing her story, vows to make sure she is educated and cared for.
I took a long time reading this. The many characters each have nicknames, formal names, surnames and diminutives, interchangeable in the text. Pasternak was a poet, and his lyrical language when describing the countryside often clogs the action. The plot is driven by coincidental meetings and unlikely survivals. I would not know how accurate the translation is, but the English prose is awkward and simplified. I suspect there are other translations that flow better.
… (more)
neurodrew | 151 other reviews | Apr 22, 2024 |
This book is very brutal, long and cold - all the things I don't like in a book. Plus, the main character seems very weak and I truly hate adultery. I gave it three stars, because it was well written, I liked some scenes and I loved the poems.
Donderowicz | 151 other reviews | Mar 12, 2024 |
I honestly was not sure if I was going to like this when I started reading it. I am so glad that I did not put it down. It was an excellent read. Loved it.
everettroberts | 151 other reviews | Oct 20, 2023 |
This is a fine, long novel to curl up with in winter. I love Pasternak's poetic writing. I read the English translation. I understand that it's even more beautiful in Russian. Thanks to Debbie Johnson for introducing me to this novel. Unforgettable.
MickeyMole | 151 other reviews | Oct 2, 2023 |


AP Lit (1)
Europe (1)
1950s (1)
100 (1)


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Isaak E Bábel Contributor
Evguéni Pasternak Présentation et commentaires
Máximo Gorki Contributor
J. M. Cohen Introduction, Translator
James E. Falen Translator
Donia Nachshen Illustrator
Nico Scheepmaker Translator
Aai Prins Translator
Leonid Pasternak Illustrator
Max Hayward Translator
Richard Pevear Translator
John Bayley Introduction
Manya Hanari Translator
Thomas Reschke Translator
Juhani Konkka Translator
Robert Payne Translator
Michel Aucouturier Translator, Preface, Introduction, , Annotateur
Babette Deustch Translator
Beatrice Scott Translator
C. M. Bowra Translator
Owen Scott Cover designer
Eugene M. Kayden Translator
Jaap Goedegebuure Introduction
Chris Koopmans Translator
Mark Rudman Translator
Bohdan Boychuk Translator
Edward Crankshaw Introduction
Luba Jurgenson Translator, Introduction
Julia Pericacho Translator
Jean Durin Translator
Silvia Serra Translator
Martine Loridon Translator
Elliott Mossman Texte établi par
Alain Thévenard Translator
Hélène Henry Translator, Editor
Jacqueline de Proyart Introduction, Editor
Sophie Benech Translator
Danièle Beaune Translator
Eve Malleret Translator
Lily Denis Translator
Heinz Czechowski Translator
Eveline Amoursky Introduction
Přemysl Rolčík Illustrator
Luděk Kubišta Translator
Gilles Gache Translator
Anne Laurent Translator
Gerardo Escodín Translator
José Ardanaz Translator
André Markowicz Translator


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