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On the horse Parsnip

John Bayley, 8 February 1990

Boris PasternakThe Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris PasternakA Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... A not unmalicious fellow poet once said of Pasternak that he resembled a horse: ‘the same big awkward profile and large eyes that seem to look intently without seeing anything’. The horse-faced parsnip – Pasternak means parsnip in Russian. This is very endearing. What other great poet has the bigness and animal closeness of the equine, and words that plod like hooves with such delicate precision through twigs and grasses? The girls chanting the ‘candle’ poem at his funeral must also have longed to have given him a lump of sugar? One of the best little scenes in Dr Zhivago is the doctor riding home through the Urals forest, with his slow beast undulating under him, and ‘dry volleys of sound bursting from the horse’s guts ...

The Writer and the Valet

Frances Stonor Saunders, 25 September 2014

... journey back to Moscow from the village of Peredelkino, where he had spent the day with Boris Pasternak. Pasternak’s dacha was part of a complex set up on Stalin’s orders in 1934 to reward the Soviet Union’s most prominent writers. One of them, Korney Chukovsky, described the scheme as ‘entrapping writers within ...

Diary

Craig Raine: In Moscow, 22 March 1990

... have changed. We are at the Russian Embassy to see Andrei Nekrasov’s execrable biopic about Pasternak. A huge video projector squats while Sergei Shilov, the Ambassador’s personal assistant, presents my wife with 12 red roses, garni, and says a few words of introduction. He will not presume, he says, to speak of the work of Boris ...

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