Boris Pasternak

Literary Birthday – 10 February – Boris Pasternak


Boris Pasternak was born 10 February 1890, and died 30 May 1960.

 Boris Pasternak Quotes

  1. The most extraordinary discoveries are made when the artist is overwhelmed by what he has to say.
  2. I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.
  3. Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.
  4. No bad man can be a good poet.
  5. As far as modern writing is concerned, it is rarely rewarding to translate it, although it might be easy. Translation is very much like copying paintings.
  6. Art has two constant, two unending concerns: It always meditates on death and thus always creates life.
  7. Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle; It is cracked ice crunching in pails; It is the night that numbs the leaf; It is the duel of two nightingales; It is the sweet pea that has run wild; It is Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.
  8. What is laid down, ordered, factual, is never enough to embrace the whole truth; life always spills over the rim of every cup.
  9. The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant, systematic duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what bring you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity.
  10. It is no longer possible for lyric poetry to express the immensity of our experience. Life has grown too cumbersome, too complicated. We have acquired values which are best expressed in prose.
  11. Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.
  12. As for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore truth.
  13. When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.

Boris Pasternak was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. He is best known as the author of Doctor Zhivago. The novel, not published in the USSR, was smuggled to Milan where it was published in 1957. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year. He was forced to decline the Prize, stating in his resignation letter to the Nobel Committee, that the reaction of the Soviet State was the only reason for his decision. His translations of stage plays by Goethe, Schiller, and William Shakespeare remain popular with Russian audiences.

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by Amanda Patterson

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