The Zhivago Affair

The Zhivago Affair

The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over A Forbidden Book

Book - 2014
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Drawing on newly declassified government files, this is the dramatic story of how a forbidden book in the Soviet Union became a secret CIA weapon in the ideological battle between East and West.
 
In May 1956, an Italian publishing scout took a train to a village just outside Moscow to visit Russia's greatest living poet, Boris Pasternak. He left carrying the original manuscript of Pasternak's first and only novel, entrusted to him with these words: "This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world." Pasternak believed his novel was unlikely ever to be published in the Soviet Union, where the authorities regarded it as an irredeemable assault on the 1917 Revolution. But he thought it stood a chance in the West and, indeed, beginning in Italy, Doctor Zhivago was widely published in translation throughout the world.
 
From there the life of this extraordinary book entered the realm of the spy novel. The CIA, which recognized that the Cold War was above all an ideological battle, published a Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago and smuggled it into the Soviet Union. Copies were devoured in Moscow and Leningrad, sold on the black market, and passed surreptitiously from friend to friend. Pasternak's funeral in 1960 was attended by thousands of admirers who defied their government to bid him farewell. The example he set launched the great tradition of the writer-dissident in the Soviet Union.
 
In The Zhivago Affair, Peter Finn and Petra Couv#65533;e bring us intimately close to this charming, passionate, and complex artist. First to obtain CIA files providing concrete proof of the agency's involvement, the authors give us a literary thriller that takes us back to a fascinating period of the Cold War--to a time when literature had the power to stir the world.

(With 8 pages of black-and-white illustrations.)

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2014
ISBN: 9780307908001
Branch Call Number: 891 .7342 FIN
Characteristics: 352 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill., ports. ;,25 cm
Additional Contributors: Couvée, Petra

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w
wyenotgo
Sep 01, 2015

The title may be a bit misleading: Cold War clashes between the Kremlin and the CIA form a very small part of this book. In reality, it's a biography of Boris Pasternak and a journalistic account of the artistic repression imposed by the Stalinist and post-Stalinist Soviet regimes in the 1950s and that continued through the 1970s. While the vehemence with which the regime persecuted Pasternak for what they perceived as an anti-Soviet novel clearly revealed to the western world the state of fear that drove the Kremlin to act as it did, and though they were never really successful in suppressing the work, none of that relieved Pasternak and his family and small circle of closest friends from the effects of the Kremlin's vicious, unrelenting attacks. Perhaps the most outrageous of all was the dreadful punishment that continued to be visited upon Pasternak's lover Olga Ivinskaya and her young daughter Irina after Pasternak's death, ostensibly for illegal currency trading (i.e. having helped Pasternak to smuggle in some money from abroad to support his family while he was prevented from earning a living) but really out of spite and in an attempt to further discredit anyone who had supported Pasternak in any way.
The final irony is surely that Khruschchev, having read "Doctor Zhivago" after his ouster a few years later concluded that "We shouldn't have banned it. There's nothing anti-Soviet in it."

a
AllieTaylor
Oct 23, 2014

P. 43

ChristchurchLib Aug 06, 2014

Doctor Zhivago, a novel published in translation during the late 1950s by Russian author Boris Pasternak, created a sensation in the West with its negative depiction of the Russian Revolution. The CIA recognized that the book could promote anti-communist sentiment within the Soviet Union, so they arranged to produce copies of the original Russian text and sneak them into Russia. The Zhivago Affair relates the exciting story of how the book-smuggling was accomplished, the severe consequences the Kremlin imposed on Pasternak and his family, and the international controversy aroused by the novel. Publishers Weekly calls this a "triumphant reminder that truth is sometimes gloriously stranger than fiction." History and current events newsletter August 2014.

r
richibi
Jul 26, 2014

how the Soviets pinned Boris Pasternak on the crucifix of Communism, how ideologies, secular or religious, crush inexorably the human spirit, though sometimes its poetry, like a phoenix, is resurrected to inspire, in a masterpiece

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