''I don't like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn't of much value. Life hasn't revealed its beauty to them.'' —Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago (1958)
He might have made his reputation among his countrymen for his poetry, but Boris Pasternak—born on this date 125 years ago in Moscow—became best known in the West for a novel, Doctor Zhivago, whose physician-poet title character is, to a large extent, based on the author himself. The Kremlin, disturbed by the book’s depiction of the harsh life endured by citizens under Communism, refused to allow him to travel to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was not until nearly 30 years later that publication of the novel was finally permitted in his own country, and that his son was allowed to pick up the award for the poet, who died in 1960.
I see, from billboards in Times Square, that Pasternak’s epic novel of his country on the brink of revolution is being adapted into a musical. For legal reasons, I can’t imagine that the show’s creators will be able to use “Lara’s Theme,” the instrumental theme that became just as famous as the 1965 David Lean film adaptation in which it appeared. But I'll be interested to see how the show does--particularly how well it resolves the ending, which I found problematic onscreen (and which a number of readers did when they encountered it in print).