Re(-)vision in Boris Pasternak’s “City”

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This article investigates the role of revision in Pasternak’s poetic practice through a detailed analysis of the early poem “City” (1916). While critical accounts of this aspect of Pasternak’s work usually focus on changes made between successive manuscripts, I pursue an account of revision that ties it directly to the incoherence it is usually expected to clarify. When placed in the context of the artistic experiments and debates of its time, I argue, the often chaotic, disorderly quality of Pasternak’s earliest work reads as a metapoetic exploration of the specific qualities of poetic language, the work of which it makes newly visible. The article is split into two parts. The first demonstrates how the poem rewrites nineteenth-century urban prose according to the non-linear temporality of poetry. The second part of the article turns to consider the poem’s spatial dimension, which relates to avant-garde debates about the frame. I end by briefly considering the 1928 version of the poem, which I conclude does not so much revise the original as extend and reiterate its central theme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-427
Number of pages16
JournalThe Slavic and East European Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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