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    Boris Pasternak

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    February 10, 1890 – May 30, 1960

    We're really not sure what to do about Boris Pasternak. On one hand, there's "Doctor Zhivago", an epic novel that won him the Nobel for Literature. And on the other hand, there's "Doctor Zhivago".

    Now, we're not gonna argue about the novel's quality, or whether it deserved the Nobel (the CIA supposedly had something to do with it, wanting Pasternak to win to spite the Soviet government). We're gonna argue about a specific passage in the novel (Chapter 4, Section 12), that pretty much says that Jews should convert to Christianity.

    Not good.

    And Pasternak himself, the son of a renowned painter, Leonid... make that Itzhak Pasternak, was not exactly fond of his Jewish roots, converting to Christianity.

    No, seriously, not good.

    However, he did try to stand up to the Soviet government, might just be Russia's greatest 20th century poet, and is considered one of the fathers of the dissident movement. And still, at the end, when you tally it all up...

    Not good.

    Verdict: Barely a Jew.

    December 3, 2009

    See Also

    Boris Akunin

    Joseph Brodsky

    Osip Mandelstam

    Alexander Pushkin

    Leo Tolstoy
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