Rappelez-vous, Léonid Ossipovitch, que tout passera : argent, situation, les empires mêmes sont condamnés à disparaître. Seule vivra éternellement la petite parcelle d’art authentique que nous aurons semée dans notre œuvre. Tolstoï (à Pasternak père, 1910)
Le départ hors des frontières de ma patrie équivaudrait pour moi à la mort, et c’est pourquoi je vous prie de ne pas prendre à mon égard cette mesure extrême. Pasternak (« suppliant » Khrouchtchev, dans une lettre publiée par la Pravda, de ne pas le contraindre à se rendre à Stockholm)
Il y avait un équilibre et la crainte de la destruction mutuelle. Une partie avait alors peur de faire un pas sans consulter l’autre. C’était certainement une paix fragile, une paix inquiétante mais, comme nous le voyons aujourd’hui, elle était assez fiable. Poutine (Conférence sur la politique la sécurité, Munich le 10/2/07)
En ces temps étranges où nos Poutine regrettent tout haut l’Union soviétique (dont la disparition serait « la plus grande catastrophe de l’histoire russe ») en tenant des discours dignes de la guerre froide…
Et où nos Chirac et Védrine rêvent tout éveillés à la multipolarité et présentent le libéralisme comme la pire des menaces…
Petit retour sur les « machinations » de la CIA à l’occasion de la sortie en Russie d’un livre sur le petit coup de pouce qu’avec les services britanniques, elle apporta (en le faisant imprimer en russe, condition nécessaire pour le prix) à l’attribution du Prix Nobel à Pasternak pour « Le Docteur Jivago ».
Comme la place de l’individu face au Parti: « rendre son peuple à son histoire et son âme à la société à laquelle il appartient », disait celui qui se voulait, à l’instar de son célèbre héros, le « poète-docteur » de son pays …
Et ce en des temps où cela vous valait des « pogroms idéologiques » (et si en plus vous étiez juif…) ou des séjours au Goulag …
Pendant qu’en France le parti frère multipliait (avec les idiots utiles à la Malraux) des « Congrès des écrivains pour la défense de la culture » à la Mutualité comme celui où Pasternak fut invité en juin 35, laissant à un éditeur du PCI, toujours plus attiré par la « rénovation », la publication du fameux roman …
The ‘Doctor Zhivago’ caper
The Boston Globe
February 20, 2007
There is no reason to be nostalgic about the Cold War nightmare of a thermonuclear Armageddon, superpower proxy wars across the Third World, the Soviet gulag, the censorship imposed throughout the communist bloc, or the opportunistic witch-hunting of the McCarthy period in America. Yet there is something quaint about the revelation that the CIA had Boris Pasternak’s novel « Doctor Zhivago » surreptitiously published in Russian to boost his chances of winning the 1958 Nobel Prize in literature.
A forthcoming book about the « Doctor Zhivago » affair by Ivan Tolstoy — yes, a member of that illustrious literary family — recalls a bygone era when even CIA and KGB spies respected the power of literature. Tolstoy researched the covert operations of Soviet émigrés and CIA officers who arranged for the typesetting and publication of Pasternak’s manuscript in the original Russian. The novel had already been published in Italian by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, himself a member of the Italian Communist Party. Albert Camus had nominated Pasternak for the 1958 Nobel. « Doctor Zhivago » would bolster the case for a Russian writer previously known for his poetry. But the Nobel committee required, quite sensibly, that to be eligible for consideration a writer’s work had to be published in its original language.
The CIA’s motives were hardly pure. The agency wished to embarrass the Soviets and wean cultural elites in the West from revolutionary romanticism. And Kremlin counterparts of the Langley literati grasped the other side’s game plan. In a memo to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a KGB officer reported that in the summer of 1958 a campaign « to award Pasternak a Nobel Prize was initiated by Americans and launched in the West. All reactionary and anti-Soviet forces took an active part in this campaign. »
Nobody need feel bad for the outmaneuvered Soviet secret agents. Still, there was a dark side to the CIA’s clandestine manipulation of cultural politics. Too often, the targets of deception were unworldly Western intellectuals who were unaware that some of the journals they read had a CIA sugar daddy.
Pasternak knew nothing of the CIA’s machinations, Tolstoy said in a recent online interview for the Washington Post. « Doctor Zhivago » was literature, not propaganda. The Soviet foreign minister of the time was unwittingly bestowing the highest praise on Pasternak’s work when he decried its « estrangement from Soviet life » and its « celebration of individualism. »
That vehement, jargon-laden denunciation evokes a time when a novel by the poet Pasternak truly mattered. Today, Russians are reading the same airport ephemera that Americans read and, instead of publishing literary works, intelligence agents are monitoring the snuff videos of Al Qaeda fanatics.
How the CIA won Zhivago a Nobel
Mark Franchetti, Moscow
The Sunday Times
January 14, 2007
Nearly 50 years after Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel prize for a body of work culminating in the epic Doctor Zhivago, it has emerged that British intelligence and the CIA secretly facilitated the accolade to embarrass the Kremlin, which had banned the novel.
A new book reveals that American agents led an operation to publish a Russian-language version of Doctor Zhivago to comply with Nobel rules requiring that works be considered in their original language.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that the CIA played a key role in ensuring Pasternak received the Nobel prize,” said the book’s author, Ivan Tolstoy, a respected Moscow researcher.
Immortalised by David Lean’s film, which won five Oscars, Doctor Zhivago was first published in Milan in 1957. It tells the tragic story of a doctor poet, Yuri Zhivago, and the love of his life, Lara, against the backdrop of the Bolshevik revolution. It was banned in the Soviet Union until 1987.
Pasternak sent several copies of the manuscript in Russian to friends in the West. Tolstoy has now discovered a letter from a former CIA agent describing the operation that followed. He says the CIA — aided by the British — stole a copy from a plane that was forced to land in Malta.
While passengers waited for two hours, agents took the manuscript from a suitcase, photographed it and returned it. The CIA then published the Russian edition in Europe and America simultaneously.
“They avoided using paper which could be identified as Western-made. They chose special fonts commonly used in Russia and printed chapters in separate locations to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands,” said Tolstoy, who is hoping to see his book, The Laundered Novel, published in the West.
Members of the Swedish Academy were surprised to be presented with copies of a Russian edition just in time for them to consider Pasternak for the 1958 prize. Two days after hearing that he had won, the writer sent a telegram to the Academy: “Immensely thankful, touched, proud, astonished, abashed.”
Four days later, under intense Kremlin pressure, Pasternak sent a second telegram: “I must reject this undeserved prize which has been presented to me. Please do not receive my voluntary rejection with displeasure.”
Pasternak was harassed by the KGB and threatened with expulsion from Russia. After his death in 1960, the Kremlin ordered the arrest of Olga Ivinskaya, his mistress and the inspiration for Lara.
Ivinskaya and her daughter were charged with receiving “illegal” royalties from the publication of Doctor Zhivago abroad. Ivinskaya was sentenced to eight years’ hard labour in Siberia, her daughter to three. An international uproar led to Ivinskaya’s release four years early.
“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.”