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Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.

Russian poet and author Boris Pasternak is most famous for the novel Doctor Zhivago, published in 1957 and reflecting the astonishing times he’d lived through.

Already a young man during the Russian Revolution of 1917, he experienced an era of world wars and revolution, with Russia moving rapidly from the Tsarist era to the post-Stalinist thaw under Khrushchev.

Doctor Zhivago is a powerful love story set against a dramatic historical backdrop and caused huge controversy in Pasternak’s own Soviet Union. Such was the reaction, that it effectively forced him to decline the Nobel Prize for Literature he had been offered in 1958, although he chose not to seek exile in the West.

Pasternak never lived to see the famous film version of his novel starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie which was released in 1965.