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img422The year is 1958 and this is the second paperback printing of Safe Conduct, an Autobiography and Other Writings, the original text was published by New Directions in 1949. A striking portrait of Boris Pasternak was used for the book cover by illustrator Owen Scott, who did some work for New Directions in the late fifties, but that is all I know about him.

img423The best English language bio, in my opinion, on Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) is found on this site, Poets.org.

Pasternak who had studied at the German Gymnasium in Moscou was well acquainted with the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke whose work we covered in an earlier post. Babette Deutsch was a poet in her own right, and translator of much foreign poetry, but kudos go undoubtedly also to her Russian born husband with whom she translated numerous works. Cecil Maurice Bowra the translator mentioned above, was an English academic and a Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University from 1951-1954. Boris Pasternak who received a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958. His only novel Doctor Zhivago  was first published in Italy in 1957 and translated into numerous languages, but only published into Russian in 1958. The book was made into a very successful movie. Pasternak was an outstanding translator and literary critic, but first and foremost a poet with a capital P.

” Nightlong the water labored breathlessly. Till morning came, the rain burned linseed oil. Now vapor from beneath the lilac lid pours forth: earth steams like shchee that’s near the boil.

And when the grass shaking itself, leaps up,Oh who will tell the dew how scared I am– the moment the first cock begins to yawp, And then one more, and then –the lot of them?

They name the years as these roll by in turn, And on each darkness, as it goes, they call,Foretelling thus the change that is to come–To rain, to earth, to love–to each and all.”

Roosters/1923/Boris Pasternak/page 282/Safe Conduct

Probably known best for Doctor Zhivago, here is a short documentary for some and a great reminder for others.