On September 5, 1958 the romantic novel “Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak was published in the U.S. The book had been banned in the Soviet Union but still won the Nobel Prize for Literature that same year.
Boris Pasternak was born in Russia in 1890 and by the time the Russian Revolution broke out he had become a well-known avant-garde poet. His work was frowned upon during the 1920s and 1930s when under the communist regime Joseph Stalin put strict censorship on Russian art and literature. It was during this time that Pasternak made a living as a translator.
The novel that would make Pasternak known the world over was completed in 1956. “Dr. Zhivago” is an epic love story set during the time of the Russian Revolution and WW I. Soviet officials were angered by the novel stating that it romanticized the pre-Revolution Russian upper class and degraded peasants and workers who fought against the czarist regime. When the official Soviet press refused to publish the novel Pasternak found admirers who were willing to secretly smuggle the manuscript out of Russia bit by bit.
By 1958 “Dr. Zhivago” had been published and translations began appearing all around the world. The novel became an instant classic. When it came time for Pasternak to receive the Nobel Prize the Soviet government wouldn’t allow him to do it and banished him from the Soviet Writers’ Union. This action ended the writing career of Pasternak. He died of cancer and heart disease in May 1960.
However by leaving behind his novel “Dr. Zhivago” he left behind something wonderful and worthwhile for future generations. In 1965 Hollywood took over and created a hit movie from the novel starring Omar Sharif as Dr. Zhivago. The movie has many scenes that are rather hard to take but with the romance woven into it, it is very memorable. We all know that the world has gone through numerous wars but the one thing that has never died even when times were tough was romance. The movie itself depicts the wonderful romance of Dr. Zhivago and his love Lara. It also brought into the world the memorable song and music of “Somewhere My Love”.
In 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev began democratic reforms, the long deceased Pasternak was readmitted to the writers’ union and the novel was finally published in Russia.