In 1990, Boris Pasternak appeared on a Soviet postage stamp, part of a series honoring Nobel Prize winners. Soviet authorities prevented Pasternak from accepting the award in 1958, and blocked publication of his most famous novel, Doctor Zhivago, a year earlier. Pasternak's appearance on the stamp was part of "perestroika," an easing of political oppression in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

Stamp courtesy Mariluna and Wikimedia. This work is not an object of copyright.

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  • On February 10, 1890, Boris Pasternak was born in Moscow, Russia. Pasternak was one of the Soviet Union’s most influential authors, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1958. 
    Pasternak’s poems and literary translations established him as a popular and respected writer, although he became disillusioned with the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Pasternak took an ambivalent stance toward Soviet communism, and his work was heavily censored as a result. Pasternak’s most famous novel, Doctor Zhivago, was published in Europe in 1957, although it was not published in the Soviet Union until 1988.
    When Pasternak won the Nobel Prize, Soviet authorities informed him that if he traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to accept the award, he would not be allowed back in the country. Pasternak declined the award, and quickly became an international symbol of political oppression
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ambivalent Adjective

    not being able to choose, due to positive and negative reactions to both choices.

    censor Verb

    to ban, edit, or suppress material for political or social reasons.

    communism Noun

    type of economy where all property, including land, factories and companies, is held by the government.

    disillusion Verb

    to destroy the ideals or false illusions of something.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    influential Adjective

    important; having the ability to lead the opinions or attitudes of others.

    nanotechnology Noun

    development and study of technological function and devices on a scale of individual atoms and molecules.

    Nobel Prize Noun

    one of five awards established by the Swedish businessman Alfred Nobel in 1901. Nobel Prizes are awarded in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.

    novel Noun

    fictional narrative or story.

    political oppression Noun

    preventing people from expressing their political opinion or participating in political life.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.