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Russian and Lithuanian poets


My memories of Boris Pasternak
Tomas Venclova Poet
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I liked his verse a lot and I even translated some of it into Lithuanian. I also couldn’t get it published. But I visited [Boris] Pasternak. Our group, that is, Ramūnas Katilius, Pranas Morkus and Juozas Tumelis, we wrote a letter to Pasternak, a private letter, not sent by post but delivered to him by hand, in which we expressed our support for him and our thanks for his work. He received more letters like that, it was support for him at a time when he was being attacked and persecuted. I visited Pasternak at his home not far from Moscow and spoke to him for half an hour. That was one of the important memories in my life. I remember then, after leaving Pasternak’s home... a woman had taken me there, an acquaintance of his, of Pasternak’s, I told that woman, ‘He’s 70 years old but he looks so young and so alive, so full of life that he’ll most probably live to a 100’. Whereas his cancer was well advanced at that time, even though it hadn’t been diagnosed. He didn’t know himself that he had cancer and he died half a year later. He was buried in the same… village not far from Moscow in which he had lived and died and whenever I’m in Russia I always visit his grave.

Man jo eilės labai patiko ir aš kai kurias iš jų net tada išverčiau į lietuvių kalbą, taip pat negalėjau spausdinti. Bet aplankiau Pasternaką. Mūsų kompanija, štai Romas Katilius, Pranas Morkus ir Juozas Tumelis, mes parašėme Pasternakui laišką, na, privatų laišką, perduotą ne paštu, bet per rankas, kur išreiškėme jam paramą ir padėką už jo kūrybą. Tokių laiškų jis gaudavo ir daugiau, tai buvo jam parama tuo metu, kai jis buvo pjudomas ir persekiojamas. Na, ir aš apsilankiau pas Pasternaką jo namuose netoli Maskvos, ir pusvalandį su juo kalbėjausi. Na, tai vienas iš svarbių mano gyvenimo prisiminimų. Atsimenu tada, išėjęs iš Pasternako namų, mane buvo nuvedus moteriškė, su juo pažįstama, su Pasternaku, aš pasakiau tai moteriškei – jam 70 metų, bet jis atrodo toks jaunas ir toks gyvas, toks gyvybingas, kad jis tikriausiai gyvens ligi šimto. O jis tuo metu jau turėjo toli paėjusį vėžį, nors nebuvo dar diagnozės, jis nežinojo pats, kad jis serga vėžiu, ir mirė po pusės metų. Na, ir jis palaidotas tam pačiam... kaime netoli Maskvos, kuriame gyveno ir mirė, ir kada būnu Rusijoj aš visada aplankau jo kapą.

Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Boris Pasternak, Ramūnas Katilius, Pranas Morkus, Juozas Tumelis

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012