Boris Pasternak

(10 February 1890 - 30 May 1960 / Moscow)

Quotations

  • ''No deep and strong feeling, such as we may come across here and there in the world, is unmixed with compassion. The more we love, the more the object of our love seems to us to be a victim.''
    Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Doctor Zhivago, ch. 12, sct. 7 (1957).
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  • ''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.''
    Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Interview in Writers at Work, Second Series, ed. George Plimpton (1963). "The only interesting sort of translating is that of classics," Pasternak believed.
  • ''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.''
    Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Interview in Writers at Work, Second Series, ed. George Plimpton (1963).
  • ''That's metaphysics, my dear fellow. It's forbidden me by my doctor, my stomach won't take it.''
    Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Ivan Ivanovich, in Doctor Zhivago, ch. 1, sct. 5 (1957).
  • ''What is history? Its beginning is that of the centuries of systematic work devoted to the solution of the enigma of death, so that death itself may eventually be overcome. That is why people write symphonies, and why they discover mathematical infinity and electromagnetic waves.''
    Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Nikolay Nikolayevich, in Doctor Zhivago, ch. 1, sect. 5 (1957).
  • ''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.''
    Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Zhivago, in Doctor Zhivago, ch. 13, sct. 12 (1957).

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March

The sun is hotter than the top ledge in a steam bath;
The ravine, crazed, is rampaging below.
Spring -- that corn-fed, husky milkmaid --
Is busy at her chores with never a letup.

The snow is wasting (pernicious anemia --
See those branching veinlets of impotent blue?)
Yet in the cowbarn life is burbling, steaming,
And the tines of pitchforks simply glow with health.

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