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Major statements by the celebrated Russian poet Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) about poetry, inspiration, the creative process and the significance of artistic/literary creativity in his own life as well as in human life altogether, are presented here in his own words (in translation) and are discussed in the extensive Commentaries and Introduction. The texts range from 1910 to 1946 and are between two and ninety pages long. There are Commentaries on all the texts, as well as a final Essay on Pasternak's famous novel "Doctor Zhivago", which is looked at here in the light of what it says on art and inspiration.Although universally acknowledged as one of the great writers of the twentieth century, Pasternak is not yet sufficiently recognised as the highly original and important thinker that he also was. All his life he thought and wrote about the nature and significance of the experience of inspiration, though avoiding the word 'inspiration' where possible as his own views were not the conventional ones.
My book's purpose is (a) to make this - philosophical - aspect of his work better known, and (b) to communicate to readers without Russian the pleasure and interest of an 'inspired' life as Pasternak experienced it.
After obtaining a first-class honours B.A. in Russian and German at Cambridge University (later also a Cambridge Ph.D), I wrote one book on a German literature topic (Lou Andreas-Salome, Her Life and Writings), then went on to focus on Russian literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a researcher I have specialized mainly in the work of Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva and Andrei Platonov. For more than thirty years I taught in the Department of Literature at the University of Essex, Colchester, U.K. with which, now retired, I am still closely affiliated, holding the title of Research Professor.