Boris Pasternak is a West-Englishman of the same name, resident in Totnes, Devon.
Pasternak - who should not be confused with the Russian poet and novelist “Boris Pasternak” - has achieved notoriety through being of the same name as the Russian novelist and poet Boris Pasternak, whose name he shares.
Boris Pasternak was born in Berry Pomeroy, near Totnes, on 10th of February 1950. His childhood was “uneventful and idyllic”, as was his education at the hands of “beloved” country parson Andrew Jordan-Banks. His early adulthood was largely uneventful, but this very absence of event would prove crucial to his later development, as it was during this period that his lack of any interest in literature first came to full flower. During the decade that followed, Pasternak would - on and off - omit to write the monumental Russian masterwork Doctor Zhivago.
Controversy arose when it transpired in the UK media that Boris Pasternak was not in fact the author of Dr. Zhivago, and further, had written neither of his other monumental masterworks, Doctor Zhivago and Doctor Zhivago. The prominent literary critic F.R. Beavis remarked at some length upon “this extraordinary threefold coincidence” which, he claimed, “strained the credulity of even the poetic imagination”, and suggested that Pasternak was attempting to foster confusion between himself and the Slavic colossus “in order maliciously to stain the legacy of a Great Man.”
Pasternak, eventually tracked down by a Southwest News team for interview on the matter, seemed unaware of the literary uproar which he had caused, claiming to be interested only in gardening - to which, he implied truculently, he wished presently to return. When pressed further on the matter, he proved unwilling or unable to account for either his name or his non-authorship of the trilogy of monolithic Russian masterworks. However, following the broadcast of the interview on public-access arts programme Southwest Arts (“Arts in the Southwest”), the previously-reclusive Pasternak broke his silence with a letter to the Daily Telegraph, postulating the existence of a third Boris Pasternak who, he implied, would be found accountable for the non-authorship of both Doctor Zhivago and Doctor Zhivago.
In due course Pasternak “having failed to offer a credible explanation for his conduct and/or name”, had suit brought against him by Carper Bollocks, Pasternak’s UK publisher, and was arraigned to appear in court.
In the subsequent trial, the prosecution’s case rested largely on the fact that “Boris Pasternak” was an “infeasible” name, and continuing attempts were made to expose the appellation to ridicule. During the course of cross-examination it emerged that Pasternak, while originally christened Boris Pasternak, had subsequently exploited a loophole in British Law to change his name by deed poll to “Boris Pasternak”, and back again. The circumstance was seized upon by the prosecution, who argued memorably that this alone “should stand sufficient to outrage any Englishman.”
The fact that he had later reverted to his given name was dismissed, with the terse observation that “Remorse is the after-dinner cigar of Guilt.”
However, with most observers predicting a swift conclusion to proceedings, the case took a further turn when the defence revealed that a third Boris Pasternak did indeed exist, and was a successful housewive and mother-of-two from Newton Abbot. For the next several days the prosecution was mired in disarray, and confined itself to a succession of specialist witnesses from the fields of heraldry, linguistics and the comedic arts, who emphasised that the name “Boris Pasternak” was “unlikely” and “evasive”. However further exploration by the tabloid press revealed that the lady in question, while vigorously insistent that she was indeed Boris Pasternak, was in fact living under the name Ethyl Crimpscombe, and “had been doing so since birth”.
The trial eventually reached its decisive point during a seventh week, when the defendant - viewing the “Crimpscombe” revelation as “pedantry and fiddle”, and increasingly frustrated by his lawyers’ failure to dismiss the issue - at length took the step of dismissing his lawyers, and concluded the defence in person.
Pasternak’s defence, which would set several precedents in UK copyright law, was radical and ambitious. The Russian novelist Boris Pasternak, he claimed, was in fact neither Russian nor Boris Pasternak, but instead "Mr. Ronald Phipps, a quantity-surveyor resident in Bampton." The subsequent failure to locate a Ronald Phipps in that locality was, he emphasised, proof that Pasternak indeed could not be Pasternak, “for it is all but impossible that such a monumental figure should go unrecognised [in North Devon] for so long.”
Eventually the publishers withdrew their case, amid persistent rumours that Doctor Zhivago was not in fact Doctor Zhivago, but Doctor Widdicombe, from Sidmouth.