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Frog Pond PhilosophyEssays on the Relationship Between Humans and Nature$
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Strachan Donnelley, Ceara Donnelley, and Bruce Jennings

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167275

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167275.001.0001

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The Philosopher’s Poet

The Philosopher’s Poet

Boris Pasternak’s Cosmological Vision

(p.194) 19 The Philosopher’s Poet
Frog Pond Philosophy

Strachan Donnelley

, Ceara Donnelley, Bruce Jennings
University Press of Kentucky

This chapter presents a reading of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago that brings out the philosophy that permeates the work and compares it with the philosophical cosmology of Alfred North Whitehead. Whereas Whitehead wears his speculative cosmology on his sleeve, Pasternak cloaks his philosophy in his art, in his characters and their conversations, and in the imaginative world he creates. The dramatic and relational focus of the novel is “life in others,” which means that life essentially involves both worldly activity and worldly “suffering,” or undergoing. This is behind the bewildering interconnections and mutual influences of Doctor Zhivago’s characters. The mutual penetration and real connection of lives, each in the other, is the backbone of the novel, undergirding its tragic vision. Doctor Zhivago is the story of individual, interconnected lives crucifying and resurrecting one another, again and again. The final ingredient of Pasternak’s cosmic harmony, without which we cannot fully understand the interrelations of life, death, form, and art, is eros, love. Pasternak’s cosmological vision is that individuals are essentially involved with one another and with the universe abroad. Life renews itself out of death, and human love and creative activity are the truest and fullest expressions of cosmic reality.

Keywords:   Alfred North Whitehead, Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, cosmology, life, relationships, death, love

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