Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Hamlet" by Boris Pasternak

Boris Pasternak with his family: Pasternak poetry and photo site

"With this embattled book he restored to the world the image of what Russia has long been, despite violence, madness and corruption —a preacher to the nations on the text of death and resurrection."--Time (12-15-58)
Hamlet

by Boris Pasternak

The stir is over. I step forth on the boards. Leaning against an upright at the entrance, I strain to make the far-off echo yield A cue to the events that may come in my day.

Night and its murk transfix and pin me, Staring through thousands of binoculars. If thou be willing, Abba, Father, Remove this cup from me.

I cherish this, Thy rigorous conception, And I consent to play this part therein; But another play is running at this moment, So, for the present, release me from the cast.

And yet, the order of the acts has been schemed and plotted, And nothing can avert the final curtain's fall. I stand alone. All else is swamped by Pharisaism. To live life to the end is not a childish task.

[The poem is cited from Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago. "Hamlet," is translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerney, p. 523. Here are some slideshows that showcase the beautiful Russian landscape and architecture. The slideshows are set to the songs "Laura's Theme" and "Evening Bells"---scroll down to Russian/English text.]

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I thought Pasternak's Christlike "Hamlet" would be a nice reflection for Palm Sunday. I am dedicating this post to two American heroes, writers who, like Boris Pasternak, defied the vilification of communist criminals and witnessed to the truth: Joseph Trimbach and Richard Two Elk.

The retired FBI agent Joseph Trimbach, the author of American Indian Mafia, and the Indian oral historian Richard Two Elk were vilified by the violent criminals and communist agitators who controlled the American Indian Movement (AIM) because they punctured AIM's lies and told the plain truth about AIM's crimes in words that everyone could understand. [Here readers can scroll down and review some recent posts about Mr. Trimbach and Mr. Two Elk. My first post (4-29-06) about Mr. Trimbach is here.]

Mr. Trimbach and Mr. Two Elk fought for justice for Indians and other Americans who were victimized, persecuted, and murdered by the leaders of the so-called American Indian Movement (AIM).

As I noted in a previous post that cited A.V. Bartoshevitch:

For two centuries the Russian intelligentsia have regarded “Hamlet” as a reflection of their own essence and historical fortunes. The changing interpretations of Shakespeare’s tragedy by Russian critics, writers, painters, composers, theatre artists, etc., mirror with extraordinary precision the evolution of Russian society and culture.

Pasternak's "Hamlet" was supposedly written by the poet Dr. Yuri Zhivago, the protagonist of Pasternak's 1957 novel of WWI and the Russian Revolution.

Pasternak arranged for his novel to be published in Italy because it was rejected by the Soviet censorship, and in 1958 the novel was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Pasternak was not allowed to accept his Nobel Prize, but during the week that the Nobel Prizes were awarded, Time (12-15-58) profiled the author and his works in an article called "The Passion of Yurii Zhivago":

For nearly 50 years, during which most of his country and the world became a graveyard, the poet continued to write—and one of the things that shaped his vision was the contrast between the graves and his youth's calm summer landscape, the eternal tension between life and death. In Doctor Zhivago, one of this century's remarkable novels, Boris Pasternak carried that theme to its climax. With this embattled book he restored to the world the image of what Russia has long been, despite violence, madness and corruption —a preacher to the nations on the text of death and resurrection.

In 1988, Pasternak's novel was finally published in the Soviet Union.

The Soviet regime's condemnation of Boris Pasternak was one of the reasons that the KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin became disillusioned with the communist regime and brought his notes about the KGB's foreign espionage and active measures to the British.

In Chapter I of The Sword and Shield, Cambridge University historian Christopher Andrew explains that Mitrokhin was disgusted to see Pasternak falsely denounced as a literary Judas:

Mitrokhin was an avid reader of the Russian writers who had fallen out of favor in the final years of Stalinist rule and began to be published again during the mid-1950s. The first great literary event in Moscow after Stalin's death was the publication in 1954, for the first time since 1945, of new poems by Boris Pasternak, the last leading Russian author to have begun his career before the Revolution. Published in a literary magazine under the title "Poems from the Novel Doctor Zhivago," they were accompanied by a brief description of the epic but still unfinished work in which they were to appear. However, the completed text of Doctor Zhivago, which followed the meandering life of its enigmatic hero from the final phase of Tsarist rule to the early years of the Soviet regime, was judged far too subversive for publication and was officially rejected in 1956. In the novel, when Zhivago hears the news of the Bolshevik Revolution, "He was shaken and overwhelmed by the greatness of the moment, and thought of its significance for the centuries to come." But Pasternak goes on to convey an unmistakable sense of the spiritual emptiness of the regime which emerged from it. Lenin is "vengeance incarnate" and Stalin a "pockmarked Caligula."

...Mitrokhin saw the official condemnation of Doctor Zhivago as typifying Khrushchev's cultural barbarism. "The development of literature and art in a socialist society," Khrushchev boorishly insisted, "proceeds ... as directed by the Party." Mitrokhin was so outraged by the neo-Stalinist denunciations of Pasternak by Moscow's literary establishment that in October 1958 he sent an anonymous letter of protest to the Literaturnaya Gazeta. Though he wrote the letter with his left hand in order to disguise his handwriting, he remained anxious for some time that his identity might be discovered. Mitrokhin knew from KGB files the immense resources which were frequently deployed to track down anonymous letter-writers. He was even worried that, by licking the gum on the back of the envelope before sealing it, he had made it possible for his saliva to be identified by a KGB laboratory. The whole episode strengthened his resentment at Khrushchev's failure to follow his secret speech of 1956 by a thoroughgoing program of de-Stalinization. Khrushchev, he suspected, had personally ordered Pasternak's persecution as a warning to all those inclined to challenge his authority.

The criminal AIMsters, their enablers, and literary apologists should think about the fact that witnesses with troubled consciences will come forward, and history will uncover and judge the AIMsters' lies and terrible crimes.

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