Monday, 15 January 2007

Boris Pasternak's 1958 Nobel Prize was apparently won with the help of the CIA. It seems that agents boarded an aeroplane that stopped in Malta, located a copy of Doctor Zhivago that was being carried by a passenger, made photographs of the manuscript, and replaced the manuscript. All in two hours, reports Mark Francetti in today's The Australian.

The CIA then published the Russian edition in Europe and the US simultaneously.

Ivan Tolstoy, "a respected Moscow researcher", says the CIA deliberately avoided using paper that could be identified as Western, and chose fonts that were commonly used in Russia. His book about the operation, The Laundered Novel, is now available.

Unfortunately, the Soviet authorities prevented Pasternak from enjoying the fruits of his labour, forcing him to refuse the award.

They also arrested Olga Ivinskaya, who was the inspiration for the character Lara, and charged her with receiving royalties from the novel's publication. She was sentenced to eight years' hard labour in Siberia, and her daughter was sentenced to three.

"My father played no role in the publication of a Russian edition, nor had he any idea of the CIA's interest," said Yevgeny Pasternak, who accepted the Nobel prize on his father's behalf in 1989. "My father never expected to receive the prize.

"Sadly, it brought him a lot of sorrow and suffering."

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