The fate of Boris Pasternak (1890–1960) is an interesting one. The poet and writer, whose creative mind produced work contrary to the Soviet authorities, was only 46 when he fell into disrepute with the government and had to retreat to his dacha in the writer’s colony of PeredelkinoRussian: Переделкино.
Peredelkino became Pasternak’s island of safety. Since 1934, this dachaa seasonal or year-round second home, often located in the exurbs had been owned by Soviet writers, many of whom were in sympathy with the outcast author. He was a neighbour of Boris Pilnyak, Lev Kassil, Ilya Ilf, Yevgeny Petrovfamous Russian and Soviet writers, as well as Bella Akhmadulina, Boris OkudzhavaRussian and Soviet poets, Valentin KataevRussian and Soviet writer, Andrei VoznesenskyRussian and Soviet poet and many others who settled there after the Great Patriotic WarWorld War II. Peredelkino became a residence of the creatives, its own space away from the influence of the authorities. Those who lived there found it easier to breathe and write, living deeply in the pine forest, far from Moscow but still within reach of the city.
PASTERNAK IN PEREDELKINO
Boris Pasternak decided to move to Peredelkino in 1936, after he had stood up for Anna Akhmatova’s arrested husband and son in his letters to Stalin. The authorities reproached him openly for expressing these opinions, however Pasternak refused to take them back and chose instead to remove himself to Peredelkino.
To console himself, the writer translated Shakespeare, Goethe and Schiller in Peredelkino at the end of the 1930s. His beautiful wife Zinaida Nikolaevna tried to create a comforting atmosphere in the house, which resembled a floating ship. You can still feel this atmosphere in the museum. Friends would often find Pasternak gardening, working the earth with the same pleasure as he worked his quill, in anticipation to seeing the fruits of his labour. It was in Peredelkino that Pasternak created an eponymous volume of poems, which he considered the best he had ever written. These now legendary walls also gave rise to Doctor ZhivagoRussian: Доктор Живаго with its poetic prose, which, combined with the plot, won him a Nobel Prize.
Doctor Zhivago was never disseminated in the Soviet Union. Referred to as the ‘black sheep in the flock’ by newspapers, Pasternak was excluded from the Union of Writers and criticised in a series of demonstrations that swept through the country, so he had to decline the Nobel Prize. Fortunately, Pasternak’s foes did not go any further than this. He was still allowed to live at his favourite dacha, publish his works and receive his royalties.
Boris Pasternak died of lung cancer in the small ‘grand piano’ room of his Peredelkino house as the spring of 1960 approached its end. The poet’s voice, his last words and dashed hopes still linger in these walls. Many came to Peredelkino CemeteryRussian: Peredelkinskoe kladbische or Переделкинское кладбище to bid a final farewell to their friend and colleague – their respect for him and commitment to the literature he produced surpassing their fear of the authorities’ attitudes towards him, even in death.
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BORIS PASTERNAK MUSEUM
The house museum, maintained first by the writer’s widow and later by his daughter-in-law Natalya Anisimovna Pasternak, preserves the original furnishings: his personal belongings, paintings, dear bagatelles, books, clothing, and even a TV set with a magnifying lens. This ingenuous design conveys a blend of the country charm of a dacha, the light and joy of short summer days, and a feeling of shelter.
At first, the house, which Pasternak loved so much, operated as a museum only informally: his widow, son and daughter-in-law organised ad-lib excursions around the disgraced poet’s dacha, a stick in the throat of the Soviet authorities. The mansion was formally owned by the Union of Writers, and a growing undercurrent of irritation resulted in the decision to take the house away from the Pasternaks. The personal possessions of the poet and his family were thrown into the street, and it took a lot of effort to preserve them. However, just as Boris Pasternak had once wanted to help Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva, he received help post-mortem from his colleagues Andrei Voznesensky and Yevgeny Yevtushenko, supported by Academician Dmitry Likhachov. They did their best to open an official museum in Peredelkino to celebrate Pasternak’s 100th anniversary in 1990. All the furnishings were restored and placed where they had been before. Museum employees now look after the garden, and the house itself is filled with live music and the memory of Pasternak’s writing.© 2016-2020 moscovery.com