Boris Pasternak

Nobel Laureate Boris Pasternak Signed and Inscribed "Lara" Poems Included in Dr. Zhivago



Nobel Laureate Boris Pasternak Signed and Inscribed "Lara" Poems Included in Dr. Zhivago

 

Typed Manuscript Signed ("Pasternak” in Cyrillic ) and Inscribed, carbon copy, entitled "Stikhi iz romana v proze" [Poems from a Novel in Prose], being 10 of the 25 "Lara" poems included in Doctor Zhivago, 20 pp, small 4to, n.p., 1948, in Russian, original string-bound tan wrappers, one leaf loose.

Provenance: gift from the author to luri Aleksandrovich Afanasiev.

WARMLY INSCRIBED ON THE FRONT FREE ENDPAPER: To dear luri Aleksandrovich for good memory in wishing a speedy settling of your home life Pasternak 8 March 1948." This signed typescript comprises ten of the 25 "Lara” poems in Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago (1957). Pasternak was one of Russia's greatest poets when he conceived his epic tale of the Soviet Union. He worked on the novel for many years (the earliest passages date from the 1910s) and composed the poetry at various intervals during its gestation. For example, "Gamlet” [Hamlet] was written in 1946 while Pasternak was working on his celebrated translation of Shakespeare's drama. The date of the composition of 'Vesennyaya rasputitsa" [Spring Thaw] has been given as 1953, but the typed copy of the poem included in this 1948 manuscript compilation proves that it was apparently written with the other poems in 1946 and 1947. Pasternak published "Stikhi iz romana v proze 'Doktor Zhivago"' in Znamya (no. 4,1954, pp 92-95) prior to their appearance in the book. The poems in this carbon vary only slightly in language, capitalization and layout from those in Doctor Zhivago and appear there as numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, 10,15, 18, 19, 20 and 21. Pasternak instructed his typist Marina Kazimirovna Baranovich to prepare copies of "Stikhi iz romana v proze” for distribution among friends. Only four other carbon copies of the work have been located: one inscribed to Olga Petrovska, Sotheby's, Dec 5, 1991, lot 554; a second inscribed to Pasternak's close friend Mikhail Alexandrovich Zenkevich now in a private collection in Russia; a third inscribed to literary historian M. P. Gromov (Pasternak, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 9, pp 515-16); and a fourth inscribed on April 10,1948 to his translator Cecil Maurice Bowra, Collection of Irwin Holtzman.

 

Doctor Zhivago takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905, and World War II.  Due to the author's independent-minded stance on the October Revolution, Doctor Zhivago was refused publication in the USSR. The manuscript was smuggled to Milan and published in 1957. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year, an event which embarrassed and enraged the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Upon handing his manuscript over, Pasternak quipped, "You are hereby invited to watch me face the firing squad. Despite desperate efforts by the Union of Soviet Writers to prevent its publication, Feltrinelli published an Italian translation of the book in November 1957. So great was the demand for Doctor Zhivago that Feltrinelli was able to license translation rights into eighteen different languages well in advance of the novel's publication. In 1958 Pasternak wrote to Renate Schweitzer, Some people believe the Nobel Prize may be awarded to me this year. I am firmly convinced that I shall be passed over and that it will go to Alberto Moravia. You cannot imagine all the difficulties, torments, and anxieties which arise to confront me at the mere prospect, however unlikely, of such a possibility... One step out of place—and the people closest to you will be condemned to suffer from all the jealousy, resentment, wounded pride and disappointment of others, and old scars on the heart will be reopened… On 23 October 1958, Boris Pasternak was announced as the winner of the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature, and responded with a telegram to the Swedish Academy: Infinitely grateful, touched, proud, surprised, overwhelmed.  Several days later, acting on direct orders from, the KGB, they surrounded Pasternak's dacha and threatened him with not only  arrest, but the KGB also vowed to send his mistress back to the gulag, where she had been imprisoned under Stalin. It was further hinted that, if Pasternak traveled to Stockholm to collect his Nobel Medal, he would be refused re-entry to the Soviet Union. As a result, Pasternak sent a second telegram to the Nobel Committee: In view of the meaning given the award by the society in which I live, I must renounce this undeserved distinction which has been conferred on me. Please do not take my voluntary renunciation amiss. To which the Swedish Academy announced: This refusal, of course, in no way alters the validity of the award. There remains only for the Academy, however, to announce with regret that the presentation of the Prize cannot take place

 

 The novel Doctor Zhivago has been part of the Russian school curriculum since 2003, where it is read in 11th grade.


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