This Folio Life: Folio and the Pasternak family make literary history
Boris Pasternak wrote one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Here, we reveal how a chance meeting between his nephew Nicolas and a Folio copy editor led to our exquisite new edition of Dr Zhivago.
When Folio met NicolasA number of years ago, one of our copy editors, Rowena Anketell, worked on a book with Nicolas Pasternak Slater. A renowned translator of Russian texts, Nicolas had worked on many editions, but – perhaps surprisingly – he had never been asked to translate his uncle’s masterwork. Rowena facilitated a meeting between Nicolas and our Publishing Director, Tom Walker, and the conversation naturally turned to the possibility of a new Folio translation of Dr Zhivago. Asking Nicolas to work with us was easy; executing the project was trickier. As well as translating a literary masterpiece, he had the added responsibility of honouring a family legacy.
A compelling translation that reveals the true novelNicolas grew up with his uncle’s novel and its reputation as a constant companion, so he had a deep understanding of Boris as a writer as well as a strong familial bond. This meant he was able to go beyond the literal and capture the tone of the language, to create a more accurate translation of what is a deeply poetic work. The original schedule assumed three years for Nicolas to translate the extensive text but he immersed himself in the novel almost exclusively and completed the work in just eighteen months.
‘What we’ve created will, I think, stand as the greatest translation of Dr Zhivago in the English language.’ Tom Walker, Publishing Director