Quotations by:
    Pasternak, Boris


I think that if the beast who sleeps in man could be held down by threats — any kind of threat, whether of jail or of retribution after death — then the highest emblem of humanity would be the lion tamer in the circus with his whip, not the prophet who sacrificed himself. But don’t you see, this is just the point — what has for centuries raised man above the beast is not the cudgel but an inward music: the irresistible power of unarmed truth, the powerful attraction of its example.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago [До́ктор Жива́го], Part 1, ch. 2 “A Girl from a Different World” [Nikolai] (1955) [tr. Hayward & Harari (1958), US ed.]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

I think that if the beast who sleeps in man could be held down by threats -- any kind of threat, whether of jail or of retribution after death -- then the highest emblem of humanity would be the lion tamer in the circus with his whip, not the self-sacrificing preacher. But don’t you see, this is just the point -- what has for centuries raised man above the beast is not the cudgel but an inward music: the irresistible power of unarmed truth, the attraction of its example.
[tr. Hayward & Harari (1958), UK ed.]

I think that if the beast who sleeps in man could be held down by threats -- any kind of threat, whether of jail or of retribution after death -- then the highest emblem of humanity would be the lion tamer in the circus with his whip, not the prophet who sacrificed himself. But this is just the point -- what has for centuries raised man above the beast is not the cudgel, but an inward music -- the irresistible power of unarmed truth.
[tr. Hayward & Harrai (1958); edited version quoted by Ronald Reagan, Moscow University (1988-05-31)]

I think that if the beast dormant in man could be stopped by the threat of, whatever, the lockup or requital beyond the grave, the highest emblem of mankind would be a lion tamer with his whip, and not the preacher who sacrifices himself. But the point is precisely this, that for centuries man has been raised above the animals and borne aloft not by the rod, but by music: the irresistibility of the unarmed truth, the attraction of its example.
[tr. Pevear & Volokhonsky (2010), "A Girl from a Different Circle"]

 
Added on 6-Mar-14 | Last updated 20-Feb-24
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I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago [До́ктор Жива́го], Part 2, ch. 13 “Opposite the House of Sculptures,” sec. 12 [Yury] (1955) [tr. Hayward & Harari (1958)]
    (Source)

The UK edition, showing the same translators, uses the line "Their virtue is lifeless and it isn't of much value," and the chapter title "Opposite the House of the Caryatids."

Alternate translation:
I don't like the righteous ones, who never fell, never stumbled. Their virtue is dead and of little value. The beauty of life has not been revealed to them.
[tr. Pevear & Volokhonsky (2010)]

 
Added on 2-Feb-24 | Last updated 2-Feb-24
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But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshipped for decades thereafter, for centuries.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago [До́ктор Жива́го], Part 2, ch. 14 “Return to Varykino,” sec. 14 (1955) [tr. Hayward & Harari (1958), US ed.]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, men who are narrow-minded to the point of genius. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days; the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but for decades thereafter, for centuries, the spirit of narrowness which led to the upheaval is worshipped as holy.
[tr. Hayward & Harari (1958), UK ed., "Again Varykino"]

Revolutions are produced by men of action, one-sided fanatics, geniuses of self-limitation. In a few hours or days they overturn the old order. The upheavals last for weeks, for years at the most, and then for decades, for centuries, people bow down to the spirit of limitation that led to the upheavals as to something sacred.
[tr. Pevear & Volokhonsky (2010), "In Varykino Again"]

 
Added on 18-Feb-14 | Last updated 7-Feb-24
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I used to be very revolutionary, but now I think that nothing can be gained by brute force. People must be drawn to good by goodness.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago, 8.5 (1957) [tr. Hayward & Harari (1958)]
 
Added on 25-Feb-14 | Last updated 25-Feb-14
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Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago, 9.14 (1957) [tr Hayward and Harari (1958)]
 
Added on 1-Apr-15 | Last updated 1-Apr-15
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It’s a good thing when a man is different from your image of him. It shows he isn’t a type. If he were, it would be the end of him as a man. But if you can’t place him in a category, it means that at least a part of him is what a human being ought to be. He has risen above himself, he has a grain of immortality.
Boris Pasternak - grain of immortality - wist_info

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago, 9.14 (1957) [tr. Hayward and Harari (1958)]
 
Added on 20-Oct-15 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
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