On this day in 1958, Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for his novel, Dr. Zhivago. He was prevented from accepting the award by the government of the Soviet Union. The book was a tale of love and war, and many of the great Russian novels were. And it was long and complex, with many characters, as many of the great Russian novels were. The book was non-publishable in the USSR because of the less than romanticized view it portrayed of the October Revolution, so it was smuggled to Italy and published there. Given that, it was not really all that surprising that the Soviet regime was not pleased when Pasternak won the Nobel prize.
In honor over the anniversary of the award, here’s a thought to ponder from Dr. Zhivago:
“No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history’s organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind, 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 worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries. ”