Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (February 10, 1890 - May 31, 1960) was a Russian poet and writer, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.
He was born in Moscow. In the West, Pasternak is best known for his monumental tragic novel on Soviet Russia, Doctor Zhivago. It is as a poet, however, that he is most celebrated in Russia. He is one of a quartet of truly great poets to emerge in the years of Stalin's reign, the others being Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva and Osip Mandelstam.
The son of a Jewish professor at the Moscow School of Painting, and a mother who was a famous concert pianist, Pasternak was brought up in a cosmopolitan atmosphere. He studied philosophy at the University of Marburg in Germany, with Hermann Cohen and Nicolai Hartmann, but although invited to become a scholar, decided against philosophy as a profession. He returned to Moscow in 1914 and published his first collection of poetry in that year.
During World War I he taught and worked at a chemical factory in the Urals; this undoubtedly provided him with material for Dr Zhivago many years later.
The revolution of 1917 led to Pasternak quickly garnering fame as a poet.
He fell out of favour with the Soviet authorities in the 1930s; accused of subjectivism he somehow managed to escape the gulags.
Boris Pasternak was filled with a love of life that gave him hope through the dark years of communist Russia and gave his poetry a hopeful tone. Pasternak’s love of life is the principal idea in all of his works.