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Pasternak, Boris

Doctor Zhivago. First edition in Russian.

Doctor Zhivago. First edition in Russian.

Regular price $21,000.00 USD
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Boris Pasternak / First edition / Nobel Prize / Russian literature
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Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich [Doctor Zhivago]. Doktor Zhivago. A novel.

Milan [Hague], Feltrineli [Mouton], 1958.
8vo, 634 pp.

In publisher’s hardcover and modern slipcase. No dust jacket as issued.
Near very good condition.

The rare CIA-sponsored first edition in Russian.

The history of 'Doctor Zhivago' publication is very complicated and confusing. Several monographs about the manuscript traveling and the appearance of the first edition were issued nowadays. Among them are 'The Laundered Novel: Doctor Zhivago between the KGB and the CIA' by Ivan Tolstoy (St. Petersburg, 2009) and 'Inside The Zhivago Storm' by Paolo Mancosu (Milanoi, 2013).
When 'Doctor Zhivago' was banned for printing in the USSR, Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) sold the rights to the novel to Italian editor Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. In November 1957 the first edition of 'Doctor Zhivago' appeared (in Italian).
On April 2014 the Central Intelligence Agency posted to its public website nearly a hundred documents that clarified the role of the CIA in the novel publication. According to these documents, the CIA intervened because there was no Russian edition of 'Doctor Zhivago' and it could serve as a formal obstacle to awarding the Nobel Prize to Pasternak. Furthermore the book had great propaganda value and it was important to issue it in Russian. One of the CIA memos mentioned that 'Doctor Zhivago' was 'more important than any other literature which has yet come out of the Soviet Bloc'. 
Paolo Mancosu wrote about a Dutchman who came to Mouton Publishers with photostats of proofs of an already typeset version of 'Doctor Zhivago' in Russian in July 1958. He ordered approximately 1 000 copies (1 160 in other sources) to be printed in two months (p. 129). When he was told this was not possible, he threatened to bring the job to another printing company.
According to one version, at the last moment a Mouton employee, under the impression that this was the Feltrinelli project, pasted on a slip identifying Feltrinelli as the publisher. Ivan Tolstoy wrote about the man who typeset this text in Germany in the Central Association of Political Emigres from the USSR. Feltrinelli was furious that his name had been used and suspected outright fraud.
Books were distributed among Soviet visitors at the Brussels International World Fair. The CIA wrote about 365 copies of 'Doctor Zhivago' that had been handed out surreptitiously by the end of the fair. The book’s blue linen covers were found littering the fairgrounds. Some who got the novel were ripping off the cover, dividing the pages, and stuffing them in their pockets to make the book easier to hide (Finn & Couvee The Zhivago Affair. New York, 2014).

Only a few copies were preserved in private collections till nowadays.

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