Boris Pasternak Short Fiction Analysis
All Boris Pasternak’s fiction illustrates the tragic involvement of a poet with his age. Just prior to World War I, Russian literature was dominated by the figure of Vladimir Mayakovsky, who embodied a strange combination of symbolist mythmaking with the fierce futurist rejection of traditional forms. Bordering on the theatrical, Mayakovsky’s self-dramatization pitted the gifted literary artist’s elevated emotions and extreme sensitivity against his supposedly dull and unappreciative or even hostile audience, an artistic tendency which Pasternak recognized and from which he tried to liberate himself in his early stories.
“The Story of a Contraoctave”
“The Story of a Contraoctave,” written in 1913, stems from Pasternak’s Marburg years and his exposure there to German Romanticism. Centered upon a German organist who, caught up in a flight of extemporaneous performance, unknowingly crushes his son to death in the instrument’s works, this story exhibits the Romantic artist’s “inspiration,” his lack of concern for ordinary life, and the guilt that society forces upon him. Pasternak’s first published story, “Apellesova Cherta” (“The Mark of Apelles”), written in 1915 at the height of his admiration for Vladimir Mayakovsky, explores the problem of Pasternak’s simultaneous attraction to, and dismay with, the neo-Romantic posture. In this story, two writers agree to a literary competition which quickly spills...
(The entire section is 2071 words.)
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