brilliant promoter like Diaghilev or ansuccessful critical organ like The Worldnof Art, their Union existed in namenonly; each would be, for good or ill, thenmaster of his own fate.nPasternak’s fortunes were favorablenever since his early association withnTolstoy (even the most avant-gardenworld-of-artists could but tremble atnthe mention of that name). In the yearsnfollowing their acquaintance, Pasternak’snown home, on VolkhonkanStreet near the Pushkin Museum, becamensomething of a Tolstoyan salon.nIt was here, and at the family’s countrynhouse, that Pasternak entertained—nand sketched — the artists, writers,npoets, and musicians whose names arenessential to any record of Europeannculture before the Second World War.nRubinstein and Rimsky-Korsakov,nRachmaninov and Scriabin, WandanLandowska and Fyodor Chaliapin,nRainer Maria Rilke and Lev Tolstoy —nall were drawn by Pasternak from nature,nand, later, often painted by him;ntaken together, these portraits alonenshould ensure his place among thenpainters of our century. One of hisnportraits of Tolstoy, now in the Louvre,ncaptures the man he idolized in anmoment of dejection; the sitting man’snbody seems free of any stress, hisnaristocratic bearing has all the grace ofna young cadet resting between dances;nyet the man is old, and the light of thenlamp which avoids his face and sparesnits features seems frozen. This is thenTolstoy of Father Sergius, Tolstoy asnthe man he thought would never benunderstood.nDuring those happy Moscow years,nthe Pasternaks’ four children werengrowing up in that remarkable home.nAlthough she had given up the concertncareer, which made her famousnthroughout Europe by age 20, to devotenher time to the family, RosanPasternak continued teaching at thenMoscow Conservatory and practicingnseveral hours a day; Scriabin and Rachmaninov,nfrequent guests at thenPasternaks’, often brought their latestnwork for her to play. The oldest childnin the family would later date thenbeginning of his conscious life fromnone evening in November 1894, whennhe was awakened by the sounds ofnTchaikovsky’s new piano trio; hisnmother, assisted by two of her colleaguesnfrom the Conservatory, wasnperforming it for Tolstoy and severalnother guests in the next room. Tchaikovskyntitied the work “On the Deathnof a Great Artist.”nThe child was four years old. Hisnname was Boris.nThere is a mews of Georgian housesnin the heart of Oxford called ParknTown; in one of these. No. 20, LeonidnPasternak spent his last years followingnthe death of his wife, after a prolongednillness, in 1939. Rosalia’s illness, andnthe need for special medical treatment,ncompelled Leonid to accompany hernto Berlin in 1921. In Berlin, Pasternaknwas recognized—as he had been innMoscow — as one of the foremost portraitnpainters of the age; the criticalnacclaim his exhibitions received, henrecalled, “surpassed all my expectations.”nBy the late 30’s, however, thenpolitical situation in Germany began tondeteriorate rapidly, and the Pasternaksnleft for England to join their daughternwho had married an Englishman andnsettled in Oxford. Lydia Pasternak Slater,n84, still lives in the Park Townnhouse; her sister Josephine Pasternakn(who was married to a distant relativenof Leonid’s with the same familynname), 86, lives nearby in Oxford.nThey, and the six children they havenbetween them, are the heirs to thenPasternak family heritage in the West,nwhile the children of their two brothers,nBoris and Alexander, remain innRussia.nMy conversations with the two sistersnreminded me that the story of thenPasternak family is a story of reputations.nI have known the poetry of BorisnPasternak by heart since the age ofneight, and to this day I believe that allnof Russian culture is but a preface tonhis words.nLet us free words anew.nAs our garden lets —nits amber rind,nBoth careless and kind,nA few, a few, a few.nHis first “words” appeared in print justnbefore the First World War, when thenPasternak home was still the idyll it hadnalways been. Josephine remembers hernbrother reading his poems by her bedside;nby then he had abandoned music,nhis first love, which the genius of hisnparents’ friend Scriabin inspired him tonpursue. The events of 1917 (“Our landnis all smudged by the lightning,” hennnwrote in a poem that year) put annunambiguous end to that idyll, andnshortly afterward the family itself wasnscattered (the last time Boris saw hisnparents was during a visit to Berlin inn1923). The poet remained in Moscownand continued to write and publishnpoems so fresh, bold, and lasting that bynthe early 1930’s his verse occupied anplace in Russian literature which invitesncomparison with Shakespeare’s in English.nThe mention of Shakespeare isnmore than a well-meaning attentionngrabber; like Shakespeare, Boris Pasternaknwas able to transform the existingnpoetic vocabulary and expand the languagenof poetry with the superhuman,nelemental force of his gift. AlexandernPushkin is often credited with creatingnthe literary Russian language we usentoday; if this is indeed the case, and thenplace of the “Russian Shakespeare” isnpermanently reserved by Pushkin, I cannonly say that the English equivalent ofnBoris Pasternak has not yet existed.nIn 1934, the Soviet regime disbandednthe last of the remaining independentnwriters’ associations and closedndown their publishing affiliates. AsnStalin’s terror was nearing its height,nwriters were being organized by thenstate into a “union,” membership innwhich was, of course, compulsory. Bynthat time, Pasternak’s reputation wasnestablished, and the Soviets accepted itnfor what it was; what is remarkable,nhowever, is the extent to which thenregime’s ideologues saw Pasternak’s poetrynas “constructive.” The child of anhappy family, Pasternak saw mostly thengood in a world around him that wasnbeing plunged into terror and misery;nsuch was the nature of his joyful genius,nand the Soviets were free to interpret hisnjoy as approval of their regime. Besides,nthe Pasternaks’ family tradition wasnlargely apolitical, so there was littie innthe poet’s private life that could leadnthem to revise their wishful interpretation.nDespite the regime’s benevolence,nPasternak stopped writing. In a privatenletter he wrote in 1953, he recalled hisnstate of mind:nAt that time I was nineteennyears younger, Mayakovsky hadnnot yet been deified, they keptnmaking a fuss of me andnsending me on foreign trips, Incould have written any filth ornOCTOBER 1988153n