The Marsh of Gold: Pasternak's Writings on Inspiration and Creation

The Marsh of Gold: Pasternak's Writings on Inspiration and Creation

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Angela Livingstone

Series: Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures, and History
ISBN: 9781934843239 (hardcover) / 9781936235070 (paper)
Pages: 330 pp.
Publication Date: September 2008

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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 examined here in the light of what it says about art and inspiration. Although universally acknowledged as one of the great writers of the twentieth century, Pasternak is not yet sufficiently recognized 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. The author’s purpose is (a) to make this philosophical aspect of Pasternak's work better known, and (b) to communicate to readers who cannot read Russian the pleasure and interest of an “inspired” life as Pasternak experienced it.


Angela Livingstone (PhD Cambridge University) published one book on German literature (Lou Andreas-Salome, Her Life and Writings), after which she went on to focus on Russian literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a researcher, she has specialized mainly in the work of Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Andrei Platonov. For more than thirty years, she taught in the department of literature at the University of Essex, Colchester, UK—with which, though now retired, she is still closely affiliated, holding the title of research professor.


Lucid and full commentaries are interspersed between the pieces, making this an indispensable volume for any student of Pasternak or early twentieth-century Russia.
— Sasha Dugdale, Times Literary Supplement (May 8, 2009)