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Safe Conduct: An Autobiography and Other Writings Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081120135X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201353
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (February, 1890 — May, 1960) was a Nobel Prize-winning Soviet Russian poet and writer. In the West he is best known for the epic novel Doctor Zhivago, a tragedy, whose events span through the last period of Tsarist Russia and early days of Soviet Union. Pasternak was brought up in a highly cosmopolitan atmosphere, and visitors to his home included pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and writer Leo Tolstoy.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Davison on April 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was surprised to see only 2 reviews for this book. It is a beautiful short read that may not be appreciated by people who are too literal or lacking in imagination. It is a small but rich impression of the shadow of Mr. Pasternak's life. It is not the life itself but something found in the wake and ripples that are created along the way. I certainly recommend this book for anyone interested in a creative view of the world (perhaps the reviewer Kara J Buller is not one of these). I have given portions of the book even to undergrad students and they have truly connected with it. The life of Mr. Pasternak is told through the lens of poetry and mixed into this are insightful musings on the creative process. The author's insights are not too far separated from Rilke's writings on creativity and art.

Take the following quote and if you find it engaging you will enjoy this short and enjoyable book. "And it is from this theme that art is born. It is more one-sided than people think. It cannot be directed at will where one wants like a telescope. Focussed on a reality which feeling has displaced, art is a record of this displacement. It copies from nature. How does nature get into this state of displacement? Details attain clarity, losing independence of meaning. Each detail can be replaced by another. Any one is precious. Any one chosen at random serves as evidence of the state which envelops the whole of transposed reality."
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on October 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
In this autobiographical essay B. Pasternak reveals his views on art, his failed careers, his life and loves as a student, his travels across Europe and the artistic and political scene in the USSR.
After studying music (under the baton of A. Scriabin) and philosophy (neo-Kantianism in Marburg), Boris Pasternak finally found his true vocation: literature.

His artistic faith
As superbly explained by his French translator, Michel Aucouturier, B. Pasternak's aesthetics are fundamentally influenced by Schopenhauer. Art, true lyricism, binds 'the world as representation' (the objects) to the 'world as will' (our perceptions). True art reveals unexpected features, new aspects of reality. Prose or poetry give a name to these new aspects for the first time and in a unique manner. In this way, art creates a new reality through the 'strength' (the feelings of the author) and through images. In other words, the lyrical principle is a principle of subversion. Art cannot be driven by political imperatives. The poet is always a rebel against the social order: the most enduring images are those of the iconoclast.

Mayakovsky and the totalitarian State
Among the authors of the various Russian literary movements at the time, V. Mayakovsky was B. Pasternak's real hero. The suicide of the one `who had the novelty of the time in his blood', was a very serious blow for B. Pasternak and an unmistakable omen of things to come. (See the memoirs of D. Shostakovich for another view on Mayakovsky.)
During his travels across Europe, B. Pasternak was amazed by Venice, but he stumbles on its 'boca di leone'.
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By SH on March 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pasternak writes turbidly but poetically. One can see the bottom of the glass but the water is milky. One must read slowly or some event or point will slip by the reader. His visualizations of people, places and things are unique, not only in sentence structure (which could be due to translation) but in the metaphors he uses to make the reader see or experience something. The chronology is often interupted with a philosophical aside or mental journey. He does not divulge his deepest thoughts but one can guess. It helps to have read prior books on Pasternak in order to make educated guesses about hinted details. Most unique autobiography I have read. Title multi-faceted with potential meanings.
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0 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kara J Buller on July 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was assigned to me in grad school in my "fiction as autobiography" class. It succeeded in making me angry for a week. I would write more but I don't want to spend any more time on this book.
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