Doctor Zhivago (Limited Edition)

Boris Pasternak

Illustrated by Leonid Pasternak

Introduced by Ann Pasternak Slater

Translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater

Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies each signed by the translator

Poetry translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater and Nicolas Pasternak Slater

Picture Editor: Maya Slater

An exclusive new translation by Nicolas Pasternak Slater of his uncle’s only novel, illustrated with work by Leonid Pasternak

$550.00
$550.00

Doctor Zhivago

Commissioned by The Folio Society, this magnificent new translation of one of the greatest Russian novels promises to become the pre-eminent English-language version. Translated by the author’s nephew, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, and lavishly illustrated with 68 works by the author’s father, Leonid Pasternak, this spectacular volume brings together the creative brilliance of three generations of Pasternaks for the first time. Bound in leather and hand-marbled paper, signed by the translator and with a new introduction by Ann Pasternak Slater, this edition is limited to just 750 hand-numbered copies.

Picture Editor Maya Slater discussed the illustrations and the stories behind them.

Production Details

Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies
Quarter-bound in full-grain leather blocked in gold foil with paper sides hand-marbled by Jemma Lewis
Set in Albertina and printed on Arctic Volume Ivory paper
704 pages
68 reproductions of original paintings and sketches by Leonid Pasternak selected by Maya Slater
Limitation page signed by the translator
Introduction by Ann Pasternak Slater
Poetry translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater and Nicolas Pasternak Slater presented in both Russian and English
Endnotes by Nicolas Pasternak Slater
Ribbon marker
Gilded on all three page-edges
Paper-covered slipcase blocked in gold foil
11½˝ x 8˝

BORIS PASTERNAK’S MASTERPIECE

‘The first work of genius to come out of Russia since the Revolution.’

  1. V. S. Pritchett

A leading poet of his generation, Boris Pasternak wrote only one novel, Doctor Zhivago. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Russian Revolution is the epic story of Yuri Zhivago, a poet and physician who finds himself drawn into a battle between the Bolshevik Red Army and the anti-Communist Whites, and torn between the two women he loves. One of the greatest love stories ever told, it is also a courageous depiction of Russia’s suffering through revolutions, war and the purges of the Soviet regime.

Smuggled out of Russia and published – first in Italian – in 1957, Doctor Zhivago was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece in the West. However, the freedom promised in the poems of Yuri Zhivago, with which the novel ends, contrasts grimly with the fate of their writer. Threatened with disgrace and exile, Boris Pasternak was finally denounced as an enemy of the people.

The definitive translation

Doctor Zhivago’s relationship with translation has been long and controversial. The first English edition, rushed to press in 1958, is often criticised for its omissions and simplifications; the second, published over 50 years later, offers a more literal rendering, but at the cost of readability and elegance. In this definitive new translation, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, an eminent translator of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and nephew of Boris Pasternak, brings English-language readers as close as possible to the author’s authentic voice.

An extract from Doctor Zhivago


Not until she emerged into the street for the second time did Lara take a proper look around her. It was winter. This was the town. It was evening.

It was icy cold. The streets were covered with black ice, as thick as the glass bottoms of smashed beer bottles. It hurt her to breathe. The air was thick with grey hoar frost, its hairy bristles tickling and pricking at Lara’s throat like the frozen grey fur collar that chafed her face and got into her mouth. She hurried through the empty streets, her heart pounding. Clouds of steam billowed out of the doors of tea rooms and eating houses. Frozen faces of passers-by, red as sausages, appeared out of the mist, and horses’ heads and dogs’ muzzles with icicles dangling from them like beards. The house windows with their thick layers of ice and snow looked whitewashed, with coloured shadows of lighted Christmas trees and the outlines of merrymakers moving across their opaque panes, as though the people on the street were being treated to a show of shadow pictures projected from a magic lantern onto hanging sheets.

The Pasternak style

Boris Pasternak, himself a translator, acknowledged that the principal challenge of the art was reproducing ‘the tone of what is said – and of course it is the tone that matters’. Nowhere is this truer than in his masterpiece, which in its naturally inflected and complex Russian resonates with melodiously structured sentences and startling, unexpected imagery. Nicolas’s sympathetic translation does full justice to Pasternak’s style, offering for the first time an English text that reads effortlessly while retaining the richness and musicality of the original.

Boris Pasternak - THE AUTHOR - 1890—1960

One of Russia’s most revered writers, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born in Moscow, the elder son of the artist Leonid Pasternak and his wife Rosalia, a talented pianist. His childhood was spent immersed in the company of Russia’s finest artists, writers and musicians, including Leo Tolstoy, Sergei Rachmaninov and Alexander Scriabin, who inspired Pasternak’s early ambition to become a composer. But it was in poetry and prose that he found an outlet for his appreciation of melody and rhythm, and a voice for his own innate sensitivity.

Remarkable from the first collection for its lyricism and highly original, vividly impressionistic imagery, Pasternak’s poetry established him as a leading literary figure. Although he somehow survived the relentless purges, from the 1930s Pasternak’s work was often disparaged in the Soviet press and banned by the authorities. However, with the publication in 1957 of his only novel, Doctor Zhivago, written over many years under the burden of Soviet Russia’s stringent censorship, he found worldwide acclaim.

In 1958 Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but the threat of exile from the Soviet Union led him to decline the honour. He died in Peredelkino, a village outside Moscow.

Leonid Pasternak - THE ARTIST - 1862—1945

The name of Leonid Pasternak, once a prominent Russian Post-Impressionist artist, became politically unmentionable in the Soviet Union. Boris acknowledged his father as the single most important influence on his creative development and ‘a great, great artist. Far greater than I am’. After leaving Russia in 1921 Leonid saw Boris only once, although their correspondence was intense whenever war and censorship permitted. 

To illustrate this edition, more than 60 of Leonid’s beautiful original artworks – in oil, watercolour, pastel, chalk, charcoal and pencil – have been selected by author and academic Maya Slater, from the artist’s vast archives in Oxford and Moscow. Fortuitously, almost the whole of Doctor Zhivago is set during the early part of Leonid’s career, when he was working in Russia and at his most prolific, and the images – comprising urban and rural landscapes, compelling portraits and some scenes of historical record – have been specially chosen for their echoes of the novel’s tone, atmosphere and characters.

Maya Pasternak Slater - Editor and Picture Editor

Leonid Pasternak died in 1945 before any of Doctor Zhivago had been written but author and academic, Maya Slater, has meticulously researched over 2,000 of his works to find pictures which echo the action in the novel uncannily closely. Some of the illustrations document historical events, others are portraits of Leonid’s family, including the translator Nicolas who features in what may be the artist’s last watercolour. As Ann Pasternak Slater writes in her introduction, ‘Boris often sees with his father’s eyes’; the singular imagery of Pasternak’s writing shares the richness of his father’s palette, and the particular style of each artist is charged with emotive intensity.

Maya’s notes on the illustrations highlight scenes that are drawn from private family moments, adding yet another layer of interest to this poignant pairing of prose and illustration.

The Pasternaks: a fascinating family

Absorbing Introduction

Ann Pasternak Slater, the author’s niece and a renowned literary critic, examines Doctor Zhivago's remarkable poetic structure, built on ‘continuous internal echoes’. The effect of Pasternak’s precise language and unique perspective, Ann argues, is to reveal the fundamental connection between man and nature.

Lyrical Poetry

Pasternak’s masterful control of language is nowhere more evident than in the final part of the novel – the poems of Yuri Zhivago – presented in the original Russian in this edition alongside English versions. Eight of the poems follow the translations by Lydia Pasternak Slater, the author’s sister, which Pasternak made clear he liked and admired. The remaining seventeen poems are translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater, who follows his mother’s example in striving for the perfect marriage of image, music and meaning. 

Essential Notes

New endnotes by Nicolas Pasternak Slater provide fascinating cultural and historic context, as well as pointing to significant parallels between the novel and the author’s personal life.  

What makes this limited edition so special

Each copy in this limitation of just 750 hand-numbered copies is subtly different as no two of the hand-marbled sheets of paper with which the books are partly bound are the same. The colours are absolutely consistent, but the patterns are unique. These beautiful paper sides are complemented by the full-grain leather spine which is blocked in gold foil. Gilded page-edges not only look wonderful but also protect the pages within. And this luxurious limited edition is gilded on all three page-edges.

Like the exclusive translation, the fascinating endnotes too are new and supplemented with a list of characters which prevents any confusion as to exactly who is who. And then there is the clear and concise Zhivago family tree. 

With access to so much material from the Pasternak family and contributions from so many of the Pasternaks themselves, this is the most authentic English edition of an undisputed Russian masterpiece.

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