Books: Speak, Memory a Vanished Present: the Memoirs of Alexander Pasternak

Edited and translated by Ann Pasternak Slater; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 214 pages; $17.95

The surname is familiar; Boris made it famous with Doctor Zhivago. But his brother Alexander, an architect unknown in the West, also had a talent for the literature of loss. A Vanished Present meticulously re-creates old Moscow during the last two decades of the Russian empire.

Pasternak, who died in 1982 at the age of 88, views prerevolutionary Moscow from a lofty perspective. His mother Rosa Koffmann was a celebrated concert pianist. His father Leonid, an impressionist painter and graphic artist, became a dominant figure in 20th century Russian art. Brother Boris started out as a promising composer and became one...

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