Le voyage secret du docteur Jivago

I spent the academic year 2021-2022 in Paris as Chaire d’Excellence Internationale Blaise Pascal. While my major research project was on the history and philosophy of mathematical infinity, I still found time to pursue my work on Doctor Zhivago. It just so happened that one of the other Chaire Pascal (four in total for the year) was Leonid Livak who arranged for me to give a talk on my work on Doctor Zhivago on November 17, 2021 (“Zhivago’s Secret Journey: from typescript to book”; Université Paris-Sorbonne, Eur’ORBEM). Meanwhile, the Russian translation of my Zhivago’s Secret Journey came out in November 2021 and copies reached me in Paris in February 2022. The book was published by Azbukovnik. It was translated by Paul Borokhov under the editorial revision of Lazar Fleishman and Elena Vladimirovna Pasternak. A presentation of the book (with the participation of myself and Lazar Fleishman) took place in Moscow on December 5, 2021. The event can be seen here. In November 2021 I was also asked to participate in the program Atlantide directed by Andrea Purgatori for the Italian TV channel La7 in connection to the presentation of the book by Ezio Mauro “Lo scrittore senza nome: Mosca 1966: processo alla letteratura” (Feltrinelli 2021). The program can be seen here. My contribution starts around the 18th minute of the program.

During the year, I was lucky to have been welcome once again to the Maison Suger for my stay in Paris. I had spent shorter and longer periods at the Maison Suger since the early 2000 and I knew the director, Jean-Luc Lory, but only at a distance. However, this year something special happened. I mentioned my work on Doctor Zhivago and Jean-Luc  got excited about it. He generously suggested to the director of the Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Pascal Rouleau, that we should organize something. This led to a meeting on Pasternak and Doctor Zhivago at the Maison Suger that I organized on February 28, 2022, with talks by Georges Nivat, Luba Jurgenson and myself. Maurice Aymard introduced the meeting and acted as “modérateur”. You can listen to the three talks here.

In addition, we prepared a translation of a volume which I put together combining parts of my books “Inside the Zhivago Storm” (Feltrinelli 2013) and “Zhivago’s Secret Journey” (Hoover Press, 2016). A video interview with the author on the project, dated June 10, 2022, is found here.

These efforts resulted in the book “Le Voyage Secret du Docteur Jivago. Le Roman du Roman” which came out on November 17, 2022. Taking advantage of my return to Paris in December for closing the activities of the Chaire Pascal, the volume was presented at the Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme on December 20.

The format was that of a conversation between Paolo Mancosu and Marjorie Bertin, a journalist at Radio France Internationale (rfi). After the conversation, there was an opportunity for the public to ask some questions and the event was followed by a convivial reception. You can see the video of the event by clicking here.

I would like to thank Jean-Luc Lory, Pascal Rouleau, Laura Olbert and Charlotte Solnitzki for their invaluable role in the production of the book. And Marjorie Bertin for her pleasant and insightful style during the interview.

Pasternak, Costello and the New Zealand Connection

I am pleased to announce the publication of my essay “Pasternak and Costello: What We Know and What We (Still) Don’t” published in Yasha Klots (ed.): Tamizdat: Publishing Russian Literature Across Borders. Peter Lang Verlag, 2021 (in print). (= Wiener Slawistischer Almanach. Band 86), pp. 227-295.

The title page of the first part of the typescript of Doctor Zhivago sent by Pasternak to his sister in Oxford in December 1948 through Patrick Costello

The article details the relationship between Desmond Patrick Costello and Boris Pasternak. Costello was a diplomat who worked for the New Zealand Legation in Moscow from 1944 to 1950. During that period he befriended Boris Pasternak whose advice he solicited for the second edition of the Oxford Book of Russian Verse (first edition 1924; second edition 1948). In 1947, Pasternak asked Costello to translate the first version of Doctor Zhivago (an offer Costello declined) and in December 1948 he entrusted Costello (and his colleagues Doug and Ruth Lake at the New Zealand Legation in Moscow) with the typescript of the first four chapters of Doctor Zhivago for delivery to Pasternak’s sisters in Oxford. This was the first typescript of (the first four chapters of) Doctor Zhivago that left the USSR, the first step in the smuggling of several typescripts of the full version of Doctor Zhivago that followed in 1956-1957. Costello’s work in editing the Oxford Book of Russian Verse and in enabling the arrival of the first four chapters of Doctor Zhivago in Oxford in January 1949 is an important part of the history of tamizdat.

Desmond Patrick Costello

While referring to the article for more details, I would like to alert the reader that due to the complications arising from the closure of the OUP archives in Oxford on account of the COVID-19 crisis, it took until 24 August 2021 for me to receive a set of documents I had requested in August 2020. For my paper I had access to only a selection of the relevant documents that I had received from OUP in January 2020. Since it was too late to make changes to my paper, which had already gone through the proof stage, I will use this post to provide some additional information. Indeed, consultation of the full set of OUP files (OP702/4936 and OP2057/15512) allows me now to sharpen, and in some cases improve, some of the claims made in the paper. The information below should thus be seen as an addendum to the publication. I would like to thank Martin Maw, archivist at OUP, for his invaluable help in reproducing the documents.

The first additional information should be placed on p. 252 after the sentence “Towards the end of the year or at the very beginning of 1947, Costello sent the work to Davin.” The new documents allow me to add Pasternak’s reaction to Costello’s second edition of the Oxford Book of Russian Verse, whose final draft Costello had shown Pasternak in December 1946. In a letter to Dan Davin, his friend and editor at OUP, dated December 26, 1946, Costello wrote:

The second edition of The Oxford Book of Russian Verse

I have shown my selection of poems to Boris Pasternak and Nikolai Tikhonov. Tikhonov would have liked me to include more of the younger poets; but his reasons were, I feel more political than literary. Pasternak, whose opinion is worth vastly more, thinks my collection is a good one (he was kind enough, incidentally, to give me an improved version of one of his poems which I had already selected.) It does, I think, achieve its purpose of giving as good a representation as possible of the best Russian poetry, of whatever political tendency, that has been written since 1914. As for the traditional poetry which will occupy the first 32 pages, I am happy to say that both Tikhonov and Pasternak were delighted with it. (OP 702/4936)

The second change should be made in note 41 (p. 255) where it says:

The documents in the OUP archive (OP 702/4936) indicate that Davin had made a request for copies of these books. Whether they were sent and reached Pasternak is not known.

The new documents from OUP confirm that some of these books for Pasternak were actually sent to Costello but whether they reached Pasternak is still unclear.

The third change concerns note 62 on p. 269 where it says:

It remains unclear how Mary Holdsworth was connected to The Oxford Book of Russian Verse.

The new documents I received fully chronicle how Mary Holdsworth was involved in the production of the Oxford Book of Russian Verse. She was approached by Dan Davin, who was an old friend of hers, on February 21, 1947. Her role was to change the old Russian orthography used by the editor of the first edition (1924) of the Oxford Book of Russian Verse, Maurice Baring, to match the more modern one used by Costello in his supplement. In the process, Mary Holdsworth also raised with Davin a number of issues concerning Mandelstam, Bunin, Mirsky, Mayakovsky, and others that were discussed in the correspondence between Costello and Davin.

The most important change affects the following passage on p. 273, which concerns the alleged role by Costello in the delivery of a collection of Pasternak’s poems to Maurice Bowra. After discussing the available evidence I concluded:

It could still be claimed, lacking any alternative account of the delivery, that Costello was nonetheless instrumental in arranging the delivery some way or other. If this is what he did the envelope does not seem to have gone through Davin’s hands (Davin’s diary records no such event nor a meeting with Bowra for the period April 10–May 10, 1948). Perhaps Costello only had the envelope for Bowra already fully addressed sent to New Zealand
House (the New Zealand High Commission) in London via diplomatic pouch from where it could have been sent directly to Bowra in Oxford. But lacking any supporting evidence this hypothesis is just as good as any other plausible scenario. Anne Holdcroft could have done the same. Thus I think that the burden of proof here rests with those who want to attribute Costello a role in the delivery of poems to Bowra in April 1948. So far that burden has not been met.

I am delighted to report that the burden can finally be met with the documents from OUP I have recently received. The material did go through Davin’s hands. In a letter from Costello to Davin dated April 16, 1948, Costello wrote:

I wish to ask you please to fill in the address on the enclosed envelope and to drop it in a letter-box. It contains some recent poems which Pasternak has given me for transmission to Bowra – and I have gone and forgotten what college Bowra is Warden of.

In his reply dated April 20, 1948, Davin wrote:

I have sent on the envelope for Bowra as you ask.

This is a pleasing confirmation of Costello’s role as courier between Pasternak and his relatives and friends in Oxford.

Moving on now to p. 281, the following passage refers to Ruth Lake:

Whether Ruth was at the dinner is unclear, perhaps not, for their daughter, Sarah, was hospitalized in Paris with pneumonia and Ruth might have stayed in Paris to take care of her.

Indeed, a letter from Davin to Costello dated January 10, 1949 confirms that Ruth had not been at the dinner although she might have stayed in London with the baby (and no longer in Paris as I had conjectured). The text of the letter says:

Doug Lake came down for a day and we had some good talk. Unfortunately, Ruth could not come because the baby had taken ill in Paris and had not yet recovered. But Ruth had told Doug what he was to say about the book of Russian Short Stories and we managed to get fairly clear on that.

This completes the set of corrections.

Pasternak and Ivinskaya (Feltrinelli, Milan, 2020)

Smugglers, Rebels, Pirates in Chinese edition

The last post concerning my activities (excluding research posts) on the Zhivago front dates from March 2019 so it is time to bring my readers up to date.

First of all, I would like to mention that Smugglers, Rebels and Pirates (Hoover Press, 2015) is now available in an elegant Chinese translation that appeared in 2018: Ri wa ge yi sheng chu ban ji, Guangxi Normal University Press, Nanning. The graphic work is excellent.

The text also contains an appendix on first editions of Doctor Zhivago in Chinese. As these editions are not often to be seen by Western readers, I add pictures of the covers below.


In fall 2019 the Franco-German TV channel ARTE showed the documentary by the gifted Georgian director Nino Kirtadze titled Je vous invite à mon exécution: Dossier Docteur Jivago.

Poster for Nino Kirtadze’s documentary

It was also shown at the Leipzig Film Festival. The documentary was produced by Pumpernickel films.

I think the outcome is splendid. It is evocative, informative, and rich in texture. I reported in a previous post on working with Nino for this documentary. For more information on Nino and the documentary see here.


On March 19, 2020, the Italian translation of Zhivago’s Secret Journey (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2016) and Moscow has Ears Everywhere (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2019) will be out in a single volume titled Pasternak e Ivinskaja. Il viaggio segreto di Zivago. The publisher is Feltrinelli, Milan.

Pasternak e Ivinskaja. Il viaggio segreto di Zivago, Feltrinelli, Milan, 2020

The volume also includes a translation of the article “The hunt for the seventh typescript” that was described in a previous post. So, all my work on Doctor Zhivago is now available also in Italian language.

            I would like to take this opportunity to mention two more publications that might be of interest to Pasternak aficionados.

The first is a book that came out in 2016 in Moscow titled Moskva Borisa Pasternaka v sobytiyah i litsah: Albom-katalog (Москва Бориса Пастернака в событиях и лицах. Альбом-каталог). It is the catalogue of an exhibit on Pasternak and it is beautifully illustrated. The editors are N.A. Gromova and A.E. Rudnik.

Moskva Borisa Pasternaka, 2016

The book is on sale at  ozon.ru.

Finally, last but not least,

From the forthcoming Projet Bermuda 12, copyright by Michel Montheillet

I have been in touch with the talented French graphic designer, Michel Montheillet. Michel contacted me a few weeks ago and sent me 8 beautiful pages retelling Pasternak’s struggle over the publication of Doctor Zhivago that will appear at the end of May/beginning of June in the graphic novel volume Projet Bermuda 12 by Expé Éditions. I like his work very much and I encourage you to keep an eye out for the publication of this new number of Projet Bermuda.

From the forthcoming Projet Bermuda 12, copyright by Michel Montheillet

With Michel’s permission, I include the above two drawings.

P.E.N. International, Isaiah Berlin, and the Ivinskaya Case

One third of my book Moscow has Ears Everywhere. New Investigations on Pasternak and Ivinskaya (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2019) is devoted to one episode of the Cultural Cold War that followed on the heels of the Pasternak case and is intimately related to it. I am referring to the “Ivinskaya case” (the account in my book originates from the article Mancosu 2018). One can trace the roots of the Ivinskaya case to 1946, when Olga Ivinskaya and Boris Pasternak started their love affair and to Ivinskaya’s first labor camp experience between 1950 and 1953. The passionate story between Ivinkskaya and Pasternak encompassed Ivinskaya’s first conviction in 1950, her liberation in 1953, the crisis surrounding the publication of Doctor Zhivago in 1957, and Pasternak’s persecution by the Soviets, on account of the Nobel Prize, from 1958 till his death. Olga Ivinskaya was always at Pasternak’s side and, at times, personally shielded him from the pressure exercised by the Soviets. After Pasternak died in May 1960, Ivinskaya and her daughter, Irina Emelianova, were sentenced and sent to labor camps. Olga was sentenced to eight years and Irina to three years. The charge brought against them was of having received money from abroad originating from Pasternak’s royalties in the West. This led to international outrage and to the Ivinskaya case. In my book, I describe the campaign that was carried out in the West in order to persuade the Soviet authorities to revoke or soften the labor camp sentences for Ivinskaya and Emelianova. Intellectuals in the United Kingdom were especially active in the campaign and a special committee was formed in Oxford. Moreover, P.E.N. International, through its General Secretary David Carver (General Secretary of P.E.N. International from 1951 to 1974; for more biographical information on Carver click here), also pressured the Soviets for a reversal of the “savage” sentences. While I recounted these events in detail in my book, recent documents have emerged concerning the activities of P.E.N. and contacts between Isaiah Berlin (who had joined P.E.N. in 1961) and David Carver that, while not altering the general picture, complement it in interesting ways. In this post, I would like to present these new documents with some commentary to explain the background to the events. It is my hope that this post might be useful to future historians interested in the activities of P.E.N. International on behalf of persecuted writers and intellectuals.

The documents to be presented originate from the McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa, The Isaiah Berlin Manuscripts Collection (IBMC) at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at Austin. I am extremely grateful to Henry Hardy for having brought the Carver-Berlin correspondence to my attention and to the curators of the McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa, and the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, for permission to publish (for the holdings of P.E.N. at the University of Tulsa click here; for the holdings of P.E.N. at the Harry Ransom Center click here). Despite my attempts, it has not been possible to determine who owns the rights for Carver’s letters. Finally, I thank the trustees of the Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust (Wolfson College, Oxford) for permission to cite the Berlin letters.

Olga Ivinskaya was arrested on August 16, 1960 and her daughter, Irina Emelianova, on September 5, 1960.

Olga Ivinskaya, Boris Pasternak, and Irina Emelianova, 1959

They were sentenced in December 1960 and news of the sentencing arrived to private individuals in the West only on January 1st. The first to receive the news was Georges Nivat, Irina’s fiancé, who had been forced to leave the USSR just before the planned wedding with Irina (Nivat left the USSR on June 10, 1960). The detailed reconstruction of the turbulent period going from Pasternak’s death to the arrests of Olga and Irina constitutes the first two-thirds of Mancosu 2019. Once the news of the sentencing arrived in the West, Nivat lost no time to get in touch with his Oxford contacts (George Katkov and Max Hayward) and this set in motion a process that led to the constitution of the Oxford Committee, organized by Katkov, which included intellectuals of the caliber of Bertrand Russell, Rebecca West, and others. The aim of the committee was to secretly pressure the Soviets to release the two women. Also P.E.N. International swiftly got into action and appealed to the Soviets through David Carver, its General Secretary.

David Carver with his wife Blanche

Carver addressed Alekseĭ Surkov (1899–1983; head of the Soviet Writers’ Union from 1953 to 1959), who during the Ivinskaya case was chairman of the foreign commission of the Soviet Writers’ Union.

Surkov was Pasternak’s arch-enemy and he is greatly responsible for many events that affected the Pasternak case (see Mancosu 2013), including the decision to ban Pasternak from the Soviet Writers’ Association. That decision was taken at the end of the Nobel Prize crisis and effectively cut off any possibility for Pasternak to earn his living in the USSR. Much of the troubles that were to follow originated with this ban. Surkov was also greatly responsible for the way the Ivinskaya case developed.

Here is how I summarize the Carver-Surkov exchange in my book:

The exchange between David Carver and A. Surkov began in January with a telegram from Carver to Surkov expressing concern about the condemnation of Ivinskaya and Emelianova. A press release dated January 19, 1961, informed the public of the contents of Carver’s telegram to Surkov, which urgently appealed to Surkov to intervene to “secure [the] release [of] Madame Olga Ivinskaya and her daughter.” A telegram along similar lines was sent on January 23 by the English Centre of International P.E.N. Surkov replied on January 24, dismissing the relevance of the Ivinskaya case to a body such as P.E.N. According to Surkov, there were neither moral nor legal grounds for intervening in the case, for Ivinskaya and her daughter had been condemned in a court of law for criminal offenses related to “currency machinations.” Carver replied on January 24 by pointing out that everyone in the West was well aware of who Ivinskaya was and of her relation to Pasternak. Carver asked that the trial proceedings be made public. He also wrote a longer letter on January 30 in which he reiterated his plea for clemency and pointed out how badly this case would affect the relations between P.E.N. and the Soviet Writers’ Union.

No answer was sent to this request, but Carver met Surkov while the latter visited England with the Soviet delegation in February 1961. Surkov replied to Carver on April 4 with a long letter that summarizes the Soviets’ point of view on the Ivinskaya case. Surkov claimed to have studied the three thick volumes making up the trial proceedings and, while he made no concessions on any point, his letter delivered some interesting information.[…] Surkov then expressed his point of view on the proper way to establish relations between P.E.N. and the Soviet Writers’ Union. Carver closed the exchange with a letter dated April 26. Surkov, as we know, did his best to smear Ivinskaya’s reputation, but he also made a terrible blunder. At a reception at the Soviet embassy in February, he promised that Ivinskaya would be released within a few months. Carver reminded him of that promise in his last letter, dated April 26, 1961. This was certainly a source of embarrassment for Surkov, who probably had to justify his statement in front of higher authorities in the USSR. (Mancosu 2019, pp. 125-126)

Aleksei Surkov

We will momentarily see that the first letter presented below, from Carver to Berlin, dated April 19, 1961, begins with a mention of the letter Carver had prepared in reply to Surkov, which was sent on April 26, 1961. The reference in the same letter to the “Wiston House Conference” is a reference to the visit of the Soviet delegation in February 1961 that I mentioned above.

But before I provide the background for the meeting at Wiston House, let me cite from a letter by Carver to Pethick Lawrence explaining why Surkov had become the main Soviet referent for P.E.N.’s attempts to influence the Soviets on the Ivinskaya case. On January 23, 1961, Carver explained to Lawrence:

The Moscow radio story of yesterday morning is almost certainly, I feel, a direct result of my cable to Mr. Surkov which went off to him last Thursday [this was the telegram Carver sent to Surkov on January 19]. Don’t imagine for one moment that I feel Surkov himself is likely to be on our side on this, but he is an important functionary and was received here as a guest of P.E.N. at a reception about a year ago. Also, I have been corresponding with him about the possibility of having Russian writers as observers at P.E.N. Congresses. So we are using him as a “letter box”. (PEN Box 153.6; HRC)

Carver used very similar words in a letter, also written on January 23, to Maurice Edelman. The goal of the letters was that of asking Lawrence and Edelman, who were both members of the House of Commons, to raise the issue of the Ivinskaya case in the House. In his future dealings with Surkov, Carver would find drastic confirmation of how little Surkov was on his side on this and other matters.

Let us now return to the meeting at Wiston House. On February 23, 1961, British and Russian politicians met at Wiston House, near Stying, Sussex, for a four-day conference on “the principles and practice of coexistence.” The conference was organized by the Great Britain–USSR Association, presided over by Earl Attlee. The Russian delegation was headed by Alekseĭ Surkov and included Alekseĭ Adzhubei, editor of Izvestia and son-in‑law of Khrushchev. In addition, Georgiĭ Zhukov, a minister in charge of cultural relations with foreign countries, was part of the delegation. On the British side, the delegates included, among others, William Hayter, former British ambassador in Moscow, and Isaiah Berlin. Whatever the goals of the four-day conference might have been, it became clear to everyone involved that the Soviet delegation had arrived with the explicit intent to put an end to the protests concerning the Ivinskaya case that had been raised in the previous month.

Surkov, Zhukov and Adzhubei in London on February 21, 1961

This took two forms. The first, as reported in the Daily Telegraph of February 24, consisted in Adzhubei’s  “foisting on the British Press documents intended to blacken the character of Mrs. Olga Ivinskaya, friend of the late Boris Pasternak”. I described and analyzed these documents at length in Mancosu 2019. But in addition to the “public” performance by Azhubei, such as it was, there was Surkov’s “private” performance at the conference and, in particular, what he told Isaiah Berlin in what Berlin calls in one of the letters to be presented below the “never-to-be-forgotten bus journey from Covent Garden at midnight to Wiston House”. Surkov’s main aim was to convince Berlin and the other British delegates that Olga Ivinskaya was a whore. In a very long letter to Rowland Burdon Muller from mid-March 1961, which I published in its entirety in Mancosu 2019, Berlin summarizes Surkov’s performance on the bus journey to Wiston House as follows:

in the bus, Mr Surkov began to tell me why Pasternak’s mistress had to go to jail for 8 years for receiving money from P.’s royalties abroad. She was described as a filthy whore; a woman engaged on subverting not only the financial but the moral politics of the Soviet State; a liar, a cheat, & an evil influence. I was told that while the English clapped their hands with joy when the bloodstained murderer Hammarskjöld—the enemy of liberty & justice—murdered Lumumba, they cried out with hypocritical horror when a squalid prostitute—who led a man of genius to write his worst book—the worthless Zhivagowas imprisoned for receiving stolen goods—100‑000 dollars sent by the pimp Feltrinelli through the spies he filtered into Russia for P’s ill gotten royalties obtained by betraying his country—then the great British public threw up its hands in horror! Did I know with whom I was sympathising? this woman’s husband committed suicide in 1941. Why? because he found her secret diary: containing no fewer than 74—74 he repeated in a voice of thunder which reverberated down that poor bus—lovers! this is the strumpet the British public felt sorry for, Lord Russell wrote about in the Times etc. etc. etc.

Isaiah Berlin

I cd only riposte by saying that I cd not check or deny their facts: the trial had not been attended by foreign journalists: but that (a) Pasternak ws the second most famous author in the world now, never mind whether justly or not; anything touching him automatically obtained world wide repercussions; (b) nobody wd believe the Russian story, however true: for the motives for persecution were too great. If, I said, the governor of Napoleon III, who had been denounced by, say, Victor Hugo, had put his mistress, Mme Sainte Beuve, a widow, in gaol for alleged currency offences, who wd have believed them? Karl Marx? One can imagine what he wd have written! or Herzen? or Mazzini? They cd imprison “evil influences” (it is now plain to me that they mean to canonise Pasternak, who really did loathe them, on the principle of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”) as much as they wished: but the effect in the West cd be very melancholy. They wd alienate even the left wing intelligentsia, etc. So we went at it ding-dong till we got to Wiston House, Wilton Park, Sussex, & dropped to bed exhausted at 2 a.m.— (IBMC, MS. Berlin 269, fols. 178–81; Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust: © the Trustees of the Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2018; an excerpt from the letter has already been published in Berlin 2013, 29–32)

After the visit of the Soviet delegation, which gave Carver the opportunity to speak with Surkov in London, Surkov replied with a very long letter dated April 4. All the Carver-Surkov correspondence was published for the first time in the original English in Mancosu 2019 although Italian, Russian (Afiani and Tomilina 1991), and French (Le Dossier 1994) translations had been available much earlier, the Italian one as early as September 1961 in Tempo Presente. A plan to publish the correspondence in English in 1961 failed when the New Statesman, which had been offered the letters, declined to publish them (as it emerges from a letter from John Freeman of the New Statesman to Max Hayward dated September 12, 1961; the letter is preserved in the Max Hayward papers at St Antony’s College, Oxford).

It is with the mention of Surkov’s letter dated April 4 that the next letter from Carver to Berlin opens.

19th April, 1961

Dear Sir Isaiah,

I enclose a copy of a very long letter, as you will see, from Alexei Surkov. It seems to me very interesting that he should have taken the trouble to write at such length and go into so much detail in regard to the Ivinskaya case. Presumably he has been instructed to do so because of the very considerable stir the case made in the West, the extent of which in England, must have been observed by him and his colleagues when they were over here for the Wiston House Conference.

In regard to his comments on Madame Ivinskaya, it seems curious that he does not seem to realise that whatever Ivinskaya did prior to the trial has no bearing whatever on the charges made against her in regard to currency irregularities. If she is [an] immoral woman the Russian courts should not have let this weigh with them. Again Surkov presumably knows that there are letters from Pasternak which make it clear that he was very apprehensive of some such persecution being instituted after his death. The letter makes no mention of the daughter whose sentence was perhaps even more shocking than that of her mother, especially since the Soviet authorities prevented her marriage to her French fiancé.

When replying to this letter I would like to be able to say that I trust that nothing in the letter can be taken to affect the promise he gave to you, (of which Edward Crankshaw has told me) that Madame Ivinskaya would be released in some twelve months. This seems to me to be of crucial importance because the effect of this promise was to muzzle us all here. Crankshaw made no further reference to the matter in his OBSERVER article on the Wiston House Conference and I abandoned the general appeal to all P.E.N. Centres to bombard Moscow with telegrams and letters.

The latter part of this letter, and its discussion of relations between Soviet writers and P.E.N., follows quite logically on the conversation I had with Surkov at the Soviet Embassy just before I met you as you came in to the reception. I have had the letter a few days but have not been able to find the time to deal with it until now, so that I would very greatly appreciate a word from you as soon as possible. I do not want to delay replying much longer.

I am sending Crankshaw a copy of the letter and also Mark Bonham-Carter, who is naturally very interested as Pasternak’s English publisher.

Yrs etc etc

 D[avid] C[arver] [signed]

Sir Isaiah Berlin, C.B.E.,

Headington House,


OXFORD.        Enclosure ….. (PEN Box 153.7, HRC)

An interesting part of this letter is the claim that the effect of Surkov’s promise in England “was to muzzle us all here”. While trying to strike a delicate balance between raising an energic protest without antagonizing the Soviets, thereby losing the ability to influence the course of events, even a comment such as the one by Surkov could give hope and call for restrain. The later correspondence, to be presented below, will shed more light on the exact nature of the “promise” Surkov had made. Edward Crankshaw (1909-1984) was a British writer and journalist who devoted much attention to the Ivinskaya case (see also Crankshaw 1984) and wrote two especially effective articles on it, the first published in early March (this is the article referred to in the letter above) and the second on October 1, 1961, which will be mentioned below. Berlin praised both articles in letters to Crankshaw.

Now for Berlin’s reply to Carver’s letter.



TEL. OXFORD 81005.

22 May, 1961.

Dear Mr. Carver,

I am exceedingly sorry not to have replied to your letter of 19 April, but I was away in Paris during the flurry in North Africa and your letter, which was sent on to Paris, got lost there as a result of the same flurry and only came back weeks later. I know all about Surkov and the case of which you speak for he addressed a long and very lying sermon on the subject in the bus that took us from Covent Garden into the country where an unhappy weekend was spent by the Anglo-Russian symposiasts. You say how curious it is that he does not realise that Ivinskaya’s previous life is not relevant to the case, etc, He does realise all this perfectly well and could not care less. He wishes to convey the notion that she is a prostitute, a low woman, not worthy of our sympathy, and men who can regard the death of Lumumba with equanimity should not make a fuss about the temporary imprisonment of a liar, a cheat, an embezzler and an evil influence. I think you are absolutely right not to bombard Moscow with letters, etc. about this case just then. But I do not think that Surkov has much power of authority and although it is right to treat his promise (if promise it was) as something of great value, since we have heard no more about this lately, it could do no harm if something were done from time to time to convey to them that we have not forgotten. What they hope for is oblivion. I feel that a memorial addressed to them now, signed, if possible, by fairly left-wing writers and those they know -e.g. Maugham, Russell, Graham Greene, Moravia, Mauriac, and of course if you can get them Sartre, etc. just to ask what is happening and whether there is any hope of clemency could not do any harm. It would be as well to stress that the writers of Europe continue to be concerned about this and will go on asking questions. There is no need to include the names of well-known “enemies” like Rebecca West, Stephen Spender, or for that matter myself. – I am not regarded as an enemy exactly – but my name will not add lustre to the document.

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin [signed] (PEN Box 153.7, HRC)

Meanwhile, as Berlin’s reply was taking too long to arrive, Carver had already sent his reply to Surkov, as he reports in the next letter to Berlin.

26th May, 1961.

Dear Sir Isaiah,

Thank you very much for your letter.

I realise, of course, that my letter to you had been delayed.

I duly wrote to Surkov in answer to his long letter to me and I made there pointed reference to his promise that Ivinskaya should be released within a period of months. I have not heard again yet but he is  believed to be coming to this Country with a party of Soviet writers towards the end of next month and they are all expected here, at Glebe House , at the Midsummer Eve subscription party which we happen to be holding for members. In view of this, I think I had better delay organising the kind of memorial which you suggest, and of which of course I heartily approve, until I have had a chance to talk to him. I am sure you are right that we must not let him imagine that we have forgotten the poor woman.

Best regards,

Yours sincerely,

D[avid] C[arver] [signed]

General Secretary.

Sir Isaiah Berlin, C.B.E., Headington House,

Old High Street,


Oxford. (PEN Box 153.7, HRC)

What Carver had written to Surkov concerning the “promise” was as follows:

Your letter makes no mention of Madame Ivinskaya’s daughter, whose sentence has, perhaps, shocked people in the west almost more profoundly.

I would like to express the hope that nothing you say in your letter should be taken to affect the promise you gave while in England that Madame Ivinskaya would be released within a period of months. (For the full letter and the entire Carver-Surkov exchange see Mancosu 2019, document 4.51, pp. 233-245). What follows is Berlin’s reply.



TEL. OXFORD 81005.

29th May, 1961.

Dear Mr. Carver,

I am sure you are quite right. If you could raise the matter with Surkov on his arrival, although he would certainly not be best pleased – that would be excellent.

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin [signed] (PEN Box 153.7, HRC)

The next letter is from Berlin to Crankshaw. Edward Crankshaw, who worked for The Observer, had shown an early interest in the Ivinskaya case with the first article on it written on January 22, 1961. In addition to some early articles, he wrote a major story for The Observer on October 1, which brought the reader up to date with the Carver-Surkov exchange (which had meanwhile been sent to the different branches of P.E.N.). The article repeated Surkov’s obscene characterization of Ivinskaya with the intent of conveying to the British public the extent of Surkov’s crassness. In the article Crankshaw returned to the issue of the “promise” and in his letter Berlin clarified what exactly had been said in “the unforgettable bus journey” (I take the opportunity to correct what I said in the passage of my book, cited above: Surkov’s promise was made in the bus ride not at the reception at the Embassy).

Edward Crankshaw. Photo by Jane Bown


2nd Oct. 1961

First let me congratulate you warmly on your piece on Pasternak in the Observer yesterday. It is a noble, unanswerable and definitive piece on the whole subject – I do not see how this could be done otherwise or better. There is only one correction I should like to make – Surkov did not of course “promise” that Madame I[vinskaya] would be liberated as a matter of weeks – not that he was in a position to make any such promise anyway – he only let drop the possibility that she might in fact not be imprisoned for more than a year or two – all this happened in that unforgettable bus journey from Covent Garden and was never adverted to again. I shall not write to the Observer to correct the record, but I thought I ought to let you know, and I shall send a copy of this to Carver. It makes no difference, of course, to the burden of your indictment. [next sentence added by hand] than[k] you also for not mentioning my name – (Letter from Berlin to Crankshaw, dated October 2, 1961. P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)

The next letter, from Berlin to Carver, contained the carbon copy of the letter to Crankshaw (see above) as enclosure.



TEL. OXFORD 81005.

2nd October, 1961.

Dear David Carver,

I enclose a copy of my card to Edward Crankshaw – this is only to set the record straight. If you did write to Surkov to say that he had “promised” this would not have been quite an exact rendering of what occurred, but perhaps it does not make a great difference. He could always reply that he neither wished nor had the power to divert the course of “justice”, but I fear he will let the whole matter drop.

Anyway, we have all done what we can at this end.

It is sad that only we should have bestirred ourselves – why have the Americans, the Italians, the French, not done a little more? I do not see how we can be expected to do any more.

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin [signed] (Letter from Berlin to Carver, dated October 2, 1961. P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)

Crankshaw replied to Berlin’s letter on October 24. I report the beginning of the letter (preserved at the Isaiah Berlin Manuscripts Collection at Oxford), which mentions the matter of the “promise”.

24th October, 1961.

Sir Isaiah Berlin, C.B.E.,

All Souls College,


My dear Isaiah,

How very sweet of you to trouble to write about my Ivinskaya piece. I am so glad you thought it was all right: it caused me a good deal of heart-searching before I raised the matter again; but as it was clearly going to be raised, I thought it might as well take it on myself and try to hit the right tone. Thank you for telling me that it came off. As you know, there are very few people whose good opinion I value. And you are at the head of them.

I am only sorry that I was careless about the use of the word “promise”. I blame myself for this. But I think it better to say nothing more until the matter comes up again when, if it seems desirable, I can correct myself. (IBMC, MS. Berlin; Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust: © the Trustees of the Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2019)

Let us now go back to the exchange between Carver and Berlin. In a letter dated October 5th, Carver provides Berlin with a report of the conversations he had had with Surkov in late June when he realized that Surkov had no intention to help with improving the lot of Ivinskaya and her daughter.

5th October, 1961.


Dear Isaiah Berlin [handwritten]

Thank you very much for your letter and the copy of your card to Edward Crakshaw. “Promised” does seem a little too strong from what you say, but I certainly got the impression from Crankshaw that Surkov’s final words to you amounted to that.

I quite realise that he could argue that in any case he had no authority to make any promise. But at that time I did not know that he was, to a certain extent, discredited vis-à-vis the USSR government.

I had intended to write and tell you of the conversation I had with Surkov here, at Glebe House, on the 23rd June and very much regret that I did not do so.

You will remember that he was to come to a party here with a number of Russian writers, including Polevoi, and that you agreed that I should tackle him about Ivinskaya. He duly arrived with a gift of L.P. records of Gagarin’s feat and the voices of renowned Russian writers, a volume of Georgian poetry translated into rather bad English and a bronze medaillon struck to commemorate the centenary of Chekov. We talked of relations between Soviet writers and P.E.N.; I heard again a lot about COM.E.S. and then later during the party, I referred to his conversation with you. I said in fact that we were all depending on him to obtain the release of Mrs Ivinskaya and dwelt on the lamentable effect the persecution of her and her daughter had made in the West. The usual smile was on his face and remained while he said “I know too much about Mrs. Ivinskaya to wish to assist her to obtain her release”. I let him see that I was horrified by this, but I failed to move him at all.

When D’Angelo’s open letter reached me after I had talked to Max Hayward and previously Dr. Katkov, and had read Conquest’s long article in ENCOUNTER, I decided that it would be best to allow the relevant passages of Surkov’s long letter to me to be made public so that the whole story could be told and I agree with you that Crankshaw has done it admirably.

The texts of the telegrams and letters that passed between Surkov and myself together with D’Angelo’s letter and a statement by Hayward (anonymous) have been sent to all the national centres of P.E.N. with the suggestion from me that the national executives should consider what action to take, vis-à-vis their own press, following publication of Crankshaw’s article in THE OBSERVER. I don’t think there is any doubt that the result will be a considerable amount of further airing throughout the world.

Hayward assures me that anything that can be done to expose Surkov is likely to help Madame Ivinskaya. I can only hope that he is right. Perhaps now, the Americas, Italy, France and all the rest of them will do something more.

My International Executive Committee meets in Rome on November 1st with Moravia presiding and one of the main items for discussion on the Agenda will, of course, be the action taken in London.

Kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

DC [signed]

General Secretary.

Sir Isaiah Berlin

Headington House,

Old High Street,



(Letter from Carver to Berlin, dated October 5, 1961. P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)

This letter of October 5 refers to a number of events that we need to summarize briefly. First of all, we need to clarify the reference to the meeting at Glebe House with Surkov in June. The P.E.N. records contain a list of all the Soviet writers in attendance at the meeting that took place on June 23, 1961. Among them were Boris Polevoi, Svevolov Ivanov and his wife Tamara Ivanova. Second, let us say something about the reference to Sergio d’Angelo’s letter. D’Angelo had found out about Surkov’s April letter to Carver (which had been treated confidentially but, apparently, not sufficiently so) and thus saw the accusations against him (d’Angelo) that were contained in it (among other things, Surkov said that d’Angelo was an international swindler). D’Angelo wrote an open letter  to Surkov challenging Surkov to provide proofs of his accusations. D’Angelo sent a copy of his letter to Surkov to David Floyd asking the latter to forward the letter to the General Secretary of P.E.N. for maximum publicity and distribution.  The accompanying cover letter to P.E.N., written by d’Angelo, is dated July 27, 1961. However, since the letter was published in Italian in the June 21 issue of Vita, its composition goes back to the month of June. As it transpires from correspondence between Carver and Floyd, the letter was first translated into English by David Floyd, and then Max Hayward improved the translation (the English version of the letter is now published in Mancosu 2019, document 4.51; the letter from d’Angelo to P.E.N., the letter from Floyd to Carver (undated) and the reply from Carver to Floyd, dated August 30, 1961, are found in the PEN Box 153.7, HRC). I now cite from the memo that Carver sent to the P.E.N. centers on September 25, 1961 (PEN Box 153.7, HRC), for it reflects Carver’s reasons for making the various letters available to the P.E.N. centers.

Olga Ivinskaya And Her Daughter Irina.

I regret I must refer again to the imprisonment of Olga Ivinskaya, literary collaborator of the Russian poet Boris Pasternak, and her daughter Irina. You will remember that this matter was discussed at the International Executive Committee last May (when I referred to a letter I had received from Mr. Surkov) and was reported on in the Minutes of that meeting since circulated to all Centres. Reference was also made to Sir Isaiah Berlin in February this year that both women would be released within a period of months. Because of this promise, P.E.N. refrained from further pursuing the question of their release.

Mr. Surkov visited Glebe House as one of a party of Russian writers late in June, when I took the opportunity of reminding him of his promise, and was bitterly disappointed and disturbed to learn that he had no intention of fulfilling it.

Mr. Surkov’s letter to me contained a number of charges against the Italian publisher of Dr. Zhivago and other persons, including Signor Sergio D’Angelo. I have now received a letter from Signor D’Angelo, enclosing an open letter intended for the press, in which he replies to Mr. Surkov’s charges. I must stress very emphatically that I have no knowledge as to how Signor d’Angelo obtained a sight of Mr. Surkov’s letter to me, since it has only been shown to a very few leading P.E.N. personalities in London (as Mr. Surkov himself suggested at the close of his letter); this was felt to be in the best interest of Mrs. Ivinskaya as, in view of Mr. Surkov’s promise, silence was then believed to be fundamental to her safety and eventual release.

Now, in view of Signor D’Angelo’s open letter, and as it is clear he hopes to secure maximum publicity for his refutal of Mr. Surkov’s charges in the world’s press, it has been decided to release the contents of Mr. Surkov’s letter to me in so far as they refer to Mrs. Ivinskaya, so that Signor D’Angelo’s letter can be judged in the context of the original charges. The relevant parts of Mr. Surkov’s letter and my reply are therefore being given to the press, and an article dealing with the whole matter is likely to appear in one of the leading British Sunday newspapers on October 1st [this was Crankshaw’s article on the Observer] You will find, enclosed with this letter, the texts of the correspondence that has passed between Mr. Surkov and myself on this subject, including the texts of telegrams sent early this year. I also enclose an English translation of Sergio d’Angelo’s letter, and a brief memorandum by an English friend of the late Boris Pasternak which comments on certain aspects of Mr. Surkov’s expressed views of Mrs. Ivinskaya.

You will appreciate that the release of this material, forced upon me by events, has been decided  upon solely to help the unfortunate woman who has been condemned to eight years’ imprisonment in the Soviet Union. (PEN Box, 153.7, HRC)

Now back to Berlin’s reply to Carver’s letter of October 5th.

6 October 1961

Headington House

Dear Carver,

Thank you for your letter of 5 October. The account of your conversation with Surkov does not of course surprise me in the least. They have made up their mind to do exactly what Crankshaw said they intended to do, and that is a decision taken well above Surkov’s head, and he is merely the tough and cynical executant.

All that happened in that never-to-be-forgotten bus journey from Covent Garden at midnight to Wiston House was that after Surkov had revealed the full depth of Madame I[vinskaya]’s depravity, and other members of his party joined in about her financial dishonesty and acts likely to undermine the financial policy of the Soviet Union, etc., Surkov finally said, with a sort of crocodile smile, that perhaps she would not have to stay in prison all the eight years, or whatever it was – perhaps ‘a year or two’ (that is my recollection) would be enough. I said that one year was better than two, and six months better than one year, to which he rejoined nothing at all and spent himself on amiabilities about Baroness Budberg and other London friends.

I do not myself believe that anything done to expose Surkov will help Madame I. – I think they have made up their minds about that and Surkov is merely reproducing a carefully officially prepared line to which they all stick. He may, being an exceedingly clever man, have helped to work out the official version, but once it is adopted it ceases to be his property, and his personal fate has little to do with the fate of the victims. The only thing which could save them would be a change of heart on the part of some person in real authority from Mr K[rushchev] downwards – and how that is to be compassed I have no idea. If the people I still preserve a tenuous connection with inside the Soviet Union are not to get into further trouble (they have had a good deal already – I do not know if I ever told you about my conversations with various semi-condemned writers), it were best if my name were kept out of this. But there is no harm in saying, perhaps, that Surkov, in general conversation with no one in particular, seemed to hold out hope of a shorter sentence owing to the general clemency and humanity of the Soviet authorities (or similar rot).

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin (Letter from Berlin to Carver, dated October 6, 1961. P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)

Carver replied on October 11.

11th October, 1961.


Dear Berlin,

Thank you very much for your letter and for letting me have the picture so fully.

I feel with you that it is all pretty hopeless. Surkov is a such a tough, cynical creature that there is no hope of moving him and, as you say, we need to get at some person in real authority. Margaret Storm Jameson wrote a note to Madame Furtseva when she was here, as one woman to another, but got no reply.

Furtseva and Surkov

The Russian Service of the BBC persuaded me to do a piece for them which went out last night. I retold the story simply and that is apparently what they wanted. I enclose a copy of my talk. I was persuaded to do this by Lieven, who said he wanted something from somebody in a more objective position, Crankshaw being so well known as a political journalist.

I will certainly do what I can see that your name is not mentioned.

Yours, DC [signed]

Sir Isaiah Berlin, C.B.E., F.B.A.,

Headington House,

Old High Street,

Headington, Oxford. (Letter from Carver to Berlin, dated October 11, 1961. P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)


12 October 1961

Headington House

Dear Carver,

Thank you very much for your letter and the excellent enclosure. I thought your talk absolutely appropriate and I hope it penetrates Surkov’s thick hide to the necessary depth. But I fear he is a hopeless case. And so are they all, including Ehrenburg, who is falsely credited with civic courage. I am sure there is nothing more to be done at present; and it is very creditable that the sharpest voices were raised in England. I hope that you will have sent copies of your talk to the other national centres of P.E.N.

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin (Letter from Berlin to Carver, dated October 12, 1961. P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)

Here is the the text of the talk by Carver that was broadcast on the B.B.C.’s Russian Service on October 10. The talk was circulated to P.E.N. Centers a few days after October 17.

Olga Ivinskaya

Since drafting the letter to Centres dated October 17. 1961, Mr. Carver obtained permission from the B.B.C. to send out to all Centres the text of a broadcast by him which went out over the B.B.C.’s Russian Service on October 10. 1961, which it was felt would interest Centres since it is on the subject of Olga Ivinskaya. In any reproduction of this talk, due ACKNOWLEDGMENT must be made to the B.B.C., London.


Who is Olga Ivinskaya?

Until a comparatively short time ago her name, in the West, was known to only a handful of intellectuals as being the close friend and literary assistant of one of the most admired of living poets – Boris Pasternak.

Then, Boris Pasternak died and – suddenly – the world was startled and shocked to hear reports of the arrest of this woman, and her daughter Irina, in Moscow, and of their condemnation to Siberia – the mother for eight years and Irina for three. I say ‘shocked’ because this savage sentence has, without doubt, profoundly stirred and horrified all thinking people in the West.

The protestations of Alexei Surkov in speeches, conversations and in letters that those women had been involved in illegal traffic in roubles and therefore it was necessary to make an example of them has done nothing to shake the firm belief held here that the trial and condemnation of Olga Ivinskaya and her daughter is an act of sordid revenge.

That Pasternak feared for Mrs. Ivinskaya’s safety is quite clear from letter to friends written during the last few months of his life. Certainly those few in the West who knew something of the inner history of the systematic persecution to which the poet had been subjected were worried and apprehensive.

I did not know Pasternak – I have never met Mrs. Ivinskaya. But, in my capacity as General Secretary of the international organization known as P.E.N., I have met and talked with Mr. Surkov on several occasions. Mr. Surkov is known to me principally as a high executive of the Union of Soviet Writers. It was to him that the cable was addressed appealing to Soviet writers to protect Pasternak from persecution when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1958. It was to him also that I addressed several telegrams and letters, early this year, begging him to intercede with his government on behalf of Mrs. Ivinskaya and her daughter.

I turned to Mr. Surkov because I had this contact with him already. We had exchanged views on the question of whether or not Soviet writers would attend annual P.E.N. Congresses and meet their colleagues from all over the world, exchange opinions with them and so let in that draught of fresh air on a cultural level which, I believe, is our greatest, perhaps our only, hope for future peace and understanding.

I have always understood that Mr. Surkov favoured  this contact between Soviet writers and their colleagues abroad. His interest in the Italian-based European Community of Writers certainly suggests it. But in the very long letter he addressed to me last April – in reply to my letters and telegrams – he devoted page after page to vicious attacks on Mrs. Ivinskaya’s morals and referred only comparatively briefly to developing contacts between Soviet writers and their colleagues in International P.E.N.

Does Mr. Surkov believe that such terrible events as the persecution of Boris Pasternak, and the savage sentence on the woman who was for fourteen years his greatest friend, foster these cultural links which are so vital to our survival? Or doesn’t he care?

The tragic story of Olga Ivinskaya and her treatment at the hands of those who affect to admire Pasternak  as a great Russian writer has – in my views – destroyed the patient work of years. It has, in fact, confirmed in their belief those who support the policy of the closed door – those who mistakenly urge that contact, whether cultural or otherwise, between people with widely different political systems can bring profit to neither.

One thing is clear: Mr. Surkov doesn’t understand the extent to which enlightened opinion in the West has been shocked by this persecution of Mrs. Ivinskaya and her daughter.

She is a whore, he repeats again and again, she was a bad influence on Pasternak and a trafficker in illegal currency. But as I and many others have told him – we, in the West, are not concerned with Mrs. Ivinskaya’s morals, we are not arguing about the alleged currency crimes; what we are saying is simply this ‘Let her and her daughter go free in the name of humanity: release this aging woman who was the trusted friend of the greatest creative writer of his generation.’

There is no place in the annals and history of a modern state with its record of superb achievement in the arts and the sciences for such a degrading story.


62 Glebe Place

London S.W.#

October 17/1961

DC/hr. (P.E.N. Archive, 1932-1983. 1984.004. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. University of Tulsa.)

Irina Emelianova in Potma (1962)

The final part of the exchange between Carver and Berlin relevant to the Ivinskaya case is from November-December 1964. Irina Emelianova had already been freed in 1962 and the correspondence below concerns what attitude to take towards Surkov and the Soviet Writers’ Union after Ivinskaya’s liberation in November 1964.



TEL. OXFORD 81005.

20th November [1964]

Dear David Carver,

Ought we now – P.E.N., I mean – to signify our satisfaction at the release of Ivinskaya which we must assume to have occurred? Having rightly persecuted Surkov, etc., over all this, we ought, I suppose, to react – if only because it makes future protests (the need for which will, alas, probably not be absent) more effective if we chalk something up in favour of the oppressors whenever they display ‘clemency’ even for non­existent offences: still, about this you would know better than I. I had no idea before reading the Bulletin of the English Centre that Surkov had let himself go about P.E.N: it does us nothing but credit.

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin [signed] (PEN Box, 153.7; HRC)

[Carbon Copy]

mg.                27th November, 1964.

Dear Sir Isaiah Berlin,

Thank you for your letter of the 20th November addressed to Mr. Carver. He is at present away from the office but will see your letter immediately on his return to Glebe House early next week.

Yours sincerely,

Secretarial Assistant to Mr. David Carver.

Sir Isaiah Berlin, CBE., FBA., Headington House,

Old High Street.


Oxford. (PEN Box, 153.7, HRC)

4th December, 1964.


Dear Isaiah Berlin,

Thank you very much for your letter which, back from a short visit to Brussels, I have now seen.

On the whole I am inclined to think that beyond merely telling the Soviet Writers Union that we are glad to see that Ivinskaya has been released we should leave matter as they are. I have to write to Konstantin Simonov to follow-up a discussion we had in Budapest a few weeks ago when he and three other Soviet writers attended a Round Table Conference as observers, and I could very easily put in a sentence then. I rather jib at talking of clemency, particularly in the case of Ivinskaya when I remember how monstrous the whole thing was and how ill she became during the last year of incarceration.

Yes, certainly Surkov let himself go about P.E.N. and it will interest you perhaps to see the IZVESTIA article in which he made his accusations. I also enclose the text of my reply which, of course, was not printed. It did, however, form the basis of a number of articles in the European press, particularly in France and Italy.

Budapest was the first P.E.N. International meeting in forty-three years at which Soviet writers were present in any capacity. If this leads to a real relationship between Soviet writers and P.E.N., either direct or through their Union, I can only feel that it would be very desirable. There is talk of my going to Moscow to discuss ways and means ­– I shall certainly go if invited. Yours is the perfect comment on the Surkov attack and I appreciated it greatly.

Kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

DC [signed]

General Secretary

Sir Isaiah Berlin, c.a.,

Headington House,


OXFORD.     Enclosures (PEN Box, 153.7, HRC)



TEL. OXFORD 81005.

7th December [1964]

Dear D.C.

Thank you for your letter of the 4th. “Clemency” is perhaps not the right word – it certainly isn’t on any true appraisal of what was done – I entirely agree with you about that – the only question is whether from a strictly utilitarian point of view this would be useful for the purpose of saving further victims who, I fear, are bound to crop up behind the Iron Curtain. But in general, I think you are probably quite right: we could simply acknowledge our satisfaction at this release and communicate this to them in cool and correct terms.

I hope you go to Moscow: it cannot possibly do any harm and might do good.

Yours sincerely,

Isaiah Berlin [signed] (PEN Box, 153.7; HRC)

This completes the exchange between Carver and Berlin on the matter of the Ivinskaya case. It is only a small portion of a very complex case. The reader who would like to grasp the case in its totality is referred to Mancosu 2019. I will conclude by mentioning that the Carver–Surkov debate was to flare up again in 1964 (see the reference in the last two letters to Surkov’s “letting himself go about P.E.N.”) in connection with an article published by Surkov in Izvestia on January 4, 1964. However, since that exchange was only tenuously related to the Ivinskaya case, I will not treat it here.


Afiani, Vitaliĭ I., and Natal’ia G. Tomilina, eds. 2001. A za mnoiu shum pogoni: Boris Pasternak i vlast’; dokumenty 1956–1972 [But the hunters are gaining ground: Boris Pasternak and the regime; Documents, 1956–1972]. Moscow: ROSSPĖN.

Berlin, Isaiah. 2013. Building: Letters 1960–1975. Edited by Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle. London: Chatto & Windus.

Crankshaw, Edward. 1984. Putting Up with the Russians 1947–1984. London: Macmillan.

Le dossier de l’Affaire Pasternak: Archives du Comité Central et du Politburo. 1994. Preface by Jacqueline de Proyart. Paris: Gallimard.

Mancosu, Paolo.  2013. Inside the Zhivago Storm. The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece. Milan: Feltrinelli.

Mancosu, Paolo.  2018. “We Need to Help The Russians Save Face: ‘The Ivinskaya Case’ in the West”, Russian Literature, Vol. 100-101-102 (2018), pp. 127–220.

Mancosu, Paolo.  2019. Moscow has Ears Everywhere. New Investigations on Pasternak and Ivinskaya. Stanford: Hoover Press.

“Moscow Has Ears Everywhere” is out!

I am delighted to announce the publication of “Moscow Has Ears Everywhere. New Investigations on Pasternak and Ivinskaya” (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2019). What follows is the description from the flaps of the book and the advance praise for the book signed by three eminent specialists of Slavic Studies.

“Moscow Has Ears Everywhere. New Investigations on Pasternak and Ivinskaya” (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2019)

The struggle between the Soviet Communist Party and Boris Pasternak over the publication of Doctor Zhivago did not end when he won the Nobel Prize, or even with his death. After the prize the Soviets vilified and impoverished him. After his death, they turned against Olga Ivinskaya, his literary assistant, companion, and the model for Zhivago’s Lara, sending her and her daughter to a labor camp for accepting Pasternak’s royalties from the West.
            In Moscow Has Ears Everywhere, Mancosu provides the first examination of what happened after the scandal that followed the award of the Nobel Prize to Pasternak in October 1958.

            Pasternak had said he would not accept the royalties for his work. However, when exclusion from the Soviet Writers’ Union left him with no other source of income, he reconnected with Sergio d’Angelo, the scout for the Feltrinelli publishing house in Milan, the first to publish Zhivago in the West. Mancosu also describes how d’Angelo became part of a campaign to smuggle money to Pasternak.

            After the poet died, Ivinskaya received some of those funds. Mancosu shows that the KGB intercepted Pasternak’s “will,” a document that transferred Pasternak’s royalties to his longtime companion. The Soviets then arrested Ivinskaya and her daughter, Irina Emelianova, and sent them to a labor camp.

            Finally, Mancosu provides new evidence showing that Western literary figures used a campaign of clandestine persuasion rather than confrontation in an attempt to win the women’s release. Mancosu’s new book—the first to explore the post–Nobel history of Pasternak and Ivinskaya—provides extraordinary detail on these events, in a thrilling account that involves KGB interceptions, fabricated documents, smugglers, and much more. Scholars will relish the rich assemblage of new archival material, especially letters of Pasternak, Ivinskaya, Feltrinelli, and d’Angelo from the Hoover Institution Library and Archives and the Feltrinelli Archives in Milan. But Moscow Has Ears Everywhere speaks to everyone who has read the story of Zhivago and his Lara. In many respects, this is its final chapter.

Below are the advance praises for the book signed by three eminent specialists of Slavic Studies.

Paolo Mancosu’s richly documented and profoundly moving account of
some of the most dramatic episodes in the cultural life of the Cold War
period is a major contribution to Pasternak scholarship and Russian
—Lazar Fleishman, Stanford University

Paolo Mancosu’s new book is a treat for the specialist and the general
reader. Mancosu has unearthed an enormous amount of new documentary
evidence that sheds a completely new light on a story we thought
we knew well: Pasternak’s persecution following the Nobel Prize award,
the arrests of Olga Ivinskaya and Irina Emelianova, and their subsequent
release. Mancosu unveils the surprising twists of the story and weaves a
rich tapestry describing the political, literary, and private relations among
the protagonists. Most important, he gives us insights into their inner
lives—the lives of outstanding and ordinary people enmeshed in the cruel
hostility of the Cold War. It is a splendid achievement.
—Anna Sergeeva-Klyatis, Moscow State University

Professor Mancosu’s book investigates the post–Nobel Prize events in
Pasternak’s life and the repercussions of his confrontation with Soviet
power on his beloved Olga Ivinskaya and her daughter Irina Emelianova.
It represents a quantum leap in our understanding of those events, both on
account of the impressive number of unknown archival sources Mancosu
brought to light as well as for the thorough and careful interpretation of
those tragic events. Mancosu’s first-rate
study is a must read for anyone
interested in the relationship between literature and politics during the
Cold War.
—Fedor Poljakov, University of Vienna

Jacqueline de Proyart (1927-2019)

It is with great sadness that I recently learned that Jacqueline de Proyart passed away in Paris on January 30. Jacqueline de Proyart was a French Slavic scholar who taught at Poitiers and Bordeaux. She was known, among other things, for her work on Pasternak and Chekhov. In addition, she played a central role in Boris Pasternak’s life.

I first got in contact with Jacqueline in January 2012. I wrote her an email in which I asked her a question concerning one of the Russian editions of Doctor Zhivago. Her answer ended up determining my subsequent engagement with the publication history of Doctor Zhivago. That first email led to more emails, then to a personal acquaintance, which in turn turned into a friendship. Jacqueline was a generous and noble spirit. Her friendship meant very much to me and my wife. All my research on Doctor Zhivago benefited enormously from her advise and support. And of course, she was also one of the main characters in the saga which is the subject of my books, namely the publication history of Doctor Zhivago and Boris Pasternak’s life. I shall miss her very much.

I would like to celebrate her memory by briefly recounting here how it happened that in February 1957 Boris Pasternak nominated Jacqueline de Proyart de Baillescourt, a young French countess whom he had recently met at the beginning of January in his dacha in Peredelkino, as his literary agent responsible for all decisions (‘literary, juridical, and pecuniary’) concerning his work and in particular entrusted her with the task of preparing and publishing the original text of the novel in Russian.

Jacqueline recounts the story of her first acquaintance with Boris Pasternak in the introduction to Pasternak 1994a. The year was 1956. In order to improve her Russian, she was sent by her professor, André Mazon, to Moscow. The official justification was developing contacts between the Tolstoy library/museum at the Institute of Slavic Studies in Paris, which she was in charge of, and the Tolstoy museums in Moscow and Yasnaya Polyana. In Paris, she had also studied with Pierre Pascal and Nina Lazarewa. Through the latter, she had been able to become familiar with the artistic sensibility of pre-revolutionary Russia, including its spiritual and religious aspects. She arrived in Moscow on November 23, 1956 (see below her “Propusk” dated November 22, 1956).

While attending courses at the State University of Moscow (MGU), she took time to explore Moscow and to realize that traces of the Russian sensibility she had been exposed to in Paris could still be found, hidden behind the ideological façade, in certain museums and institutions. One such place was the Scriabin Museum. She had in fact been invited for tea in a part of the museum that was restricted to “Scriabin’s friends”, a group of people “who shared the same spiritual values”. Given Pasternak’s deep connection to Scriabin – Pasternak was under his spell as a youth and even considered a career as a composer – it is perhaps not surprising to find out that “in this sanctuary, the name of Boris Pasternak was uttered with admiration and fervor” (Pasternak 1994a, p. 15). She was told she had to meet Pasternak, for otherwise her stay in Russia would be meaningless. When arriving in Moscow, Jacqueline did not even know whether Pasternak was dead or alive. What she knew about him went back to a lecture course by Roman Jakobson, which she attended in 1951 when she was a student at Harvard, and to a selection of verses (mainly from Lieutenant Schmidt and The Year 1905) contained in the anthology by Jacques David, Anthologie de la Poésie Russe, which had been published in the late 1940s. Little did she know that the meeting that was soon organized to allow her to meet the poet would change her life. She laid eyes on a typescript copy of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago for the first time at the Scriabin Museum in mid-December 1956. The copy had been promised to Dmitriĭ Ivanov, aka Jean Neuvecelle, and thus she could not have access to it immediately. To make up for the disappointment, a few friends from the circle took her to visit Pasternak on the evening of January 1, 1957.

The impression the poet made on her was immediate and “his warm tenderness soon had the better of my shyness” (Pasternak 1994a, p. 18). At the end of a sparkling evening, full of intellectual conversation, Jacqueline expressed her desire to read the novel. Pasternak asked Nikolaĭ Shatrov, one of the persons who had accompanied Jacqueline to see Pasternak, to fetch the copy that was still in Simonov’s hands, the very copy which had been used – but of course Jacqueline knew nothing about this – by the main editor of Novy mir when writing his negative report on the novel in September 1956. On the evening of January 2, 1957, she already had the first part of the novel. After one week, she already had enough information about the Italian translation –which was being prepared by the publisher Feltrinelli– to propose, on January 9, to act on Pasternak’s behalf in arranging for a French translation with Gallimard. The names of Hélène Peltier, Michel Aucouturier, and Louis Martinez also came up, and it turned out that Pasternak was already familiar with them (he did not reveal at this stage that he had already given a copy of the novel to Peltier). Pasternak also showed her the contract he had signed with Feltrinelli.  Pasternak gave de Proyart the second part of the novel on January 16 and 17, and on those dates he gave her “the rights for publishing and translating abroad the Autobiographical Essay, since no contract tied Pasternak to Feltrinelli for this work” (p. 23).

On January 17, Pasternak wrote a letter to Hélène Peltier (on Peltier see Mancosu 2016) where he said:

I want that every choice, every initiative, all the rights concerning the handling abroad (not only in France) of the affairs related to my writings, including the edition of the original Russian text, be concentrated only in your hands and in those of Madame de Proyart, for your exclusive profit, without any deduction, of which I have no need whatsoever. (Pasternak 1994a, p. 63.)

On February 6, 1957, Pasternak wrote to Peltier:

I am leaving the previous letter unfinished. Jacqueline is leaving, and I am rushing. Here it is in brief. I am burdening madame de Proyart with a power of attorney, which would be desired of you as well. Questions of danger, carefulness, etc. are a complete philosophy, mind- numbing and with the ability to break your heart as well as mine. For example, if Mr. Michel Aucouturier (please send him my warmest greetings) does not mention my novel in his article in “Esprit” [March 1957]—which, quite likely, would be a sensible thing to do—what else is left of me at all? Is it not logical, that for the joy of writing the novel, I must pay, risking and putting myself in danger! Do not forget the thing that I told you. I am not dictating anything and am not suggesting anything. I would like for you and Jacqueline to do things in complete independence, in accordance with your own thoughts and inherent courage. And I thank you, endlessly thank you. Glory to you!

By the time Jacqueline left Moscow on February 8, Pasternak had given her a corrected version of Doctor Zhivago, which improved on the copy that had been sent to Feltrinelli in May 1956, a copy of the Autobiography, and a mandate nominating her as his representative. Lack of communication with Feltrinelli, who discovered the real nature of Pasternak’s mandates on her behalf only in January 1959, and the lack of clarity in the mandates themselves (as Jacqueline herself admitted), was at the core of the troubles that followed.

When Jacqueline returned to France she brought with her a letter, dated February 6, 1957, addressed to Gallimard in which Pasternak asked Gallimard to “have faith in Madame Jacqueline de Proyart as my representative in all business matters of a literary, juridical, and financial nature that could arise between your publishing house and me. I give her full power and I authorize her to replace me abroad in an unlimited way until the complete forgetfulness of my person.” (For a photographic reproduction of the original document in French, see Pasternak 1994b.) While this document had little effect on the destiny of Zhivago in France, it will by contrast be quite relevant for the autobiography and for other issues that led later to a stormy relation between Feltrinelli and de Proyart (Mancosu 2013).

Well, the rest is history, as one says. Jacqueline corresponded extensively with Pasternak (Pasternak’s side of the correspondence is published in Pasternak 1994a); she was one of the translators of Doctor Zhivago into French; she wrote the preface for one of the volumes of the 1961 Michigan edition of Pasternak’s Works; she was Pasternak’s representative in the West in 1959 and 1960; she prepared the revised edition of the Russian text of Doctor Zhivago published by Michigan in 1967, and she published extensively on him. In addition to Pasternak 1994a and Pasternak 1994b, Jacqueline’s long involvement with Pasternak is recounted in detail in Mancosu 2013, 2016, and 2019, to which we refer the reader.


De Proyart, J. (1964), Pasternak, Gallimard, Paris.

De Proyart, J. (1985), Études sur la littérature Russe du Moyen-Âge à nos jours et sur l’histoire de la Russie sous le règne d’Alexandre III, Thèse d’État, Université de Bordeaux III.

De Proyart, J. (2005), Brice Parain et Boris Pasternak, in Besseyre, M., Brice Parain. Un Homme de Parole, Gallimard/BnF, Paris, 2005, 189-196.

Mancosu, P. (2013), Inside the Zhivago Storm. The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece, Feltrinelli, Milan.

Mancosu, P., (2016), Zhivago’s Secret Journey: from typescript to book, Hoover Press, Stanford.

Mancosu, P. (2019), Moscow has Ears Everywhere. New Investigations on Pasternak and Ivinskaya, Hoover Press, Stanford.

Pasternak, B.(1958), Le Docteur Jivago, Gallimard, Paris.

Pasternak, B. (1967), Doktor Zhivago: s poslednimi popravkami avtora, Rev. and corr. by Jacqueline de Proyart, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, third printing, [Doctor Zhivago: with final corrections by the author.]

Pasternak, B. (1994a), Lettres à mes amies françaises. 1956-1960, Introduction et Notes de Jacqueline de Proyart, Gallimard, Paris.

Pasternak, B. (1994b), Le Dossier de l’Affaire Pasternak. Archives du Comité Central et du Politburo, Préface de Jacqueline de Proyart, Gallimard, Paris.

The Hunt for the Seventh Typescript

In Zhivago’s Secret Journey: from typescript to book (Hoover Press, 2016), I analyzed the typescripts of Doctor Zhivago that Pasternak sent outside the USSR and studied the role they played in the publishing history of Doctor Zhivago. The book discusses in detail six typescripts that arrived to the West and I showed that the source of the first Russian edition of Doctor Zhivago, the so-called Mouton edition – a pirated edition covertly organized by the CIA – was one of two identical typescripts that arrived in Oxford. One of the typescripts was owned by Pasternak’s sisters (it was sent to them through Isaiah Berlin) and the other was the property of George Katkov. One important consequence of this result, which rests on a philological comparative analysis of the relation between the Mouton text and the six typescripts, was that the Feltrinelli typescript, contrary to what had been assumed by most scholars, was not the one that was microfilmed for the CIA. And that is sufficient to eliminate the various cloak and dagger accounts of how the Feltrinelli typescript was intercepted by various intelligence agencies and was reproduced for the CIA. In my book, I was careful to qualify my claims by allowing for the possibility that more than six typescripts might have left the USSR. In particular, in a footnote on p. 138, I mentioned some intriguing evidence about the possibility that a typescript might have reached the USA already in October 1957. Further work on this topic led me to show that there was indeed a typescript that reached the USA by October 1957.

Across Borders, 2018

In a recent article titled “The hunt for the seventh typescript” I have been able to show that Henry Carlisle and Rinehart & Co. in New York had available a typescript of Doctor Zhivago in October 1957. In the article, I reconstruct the story of how the typescript made its way from Peredelkino to the United States – it was brought there by Vladimir Bronislavovich Sossinsky –  but I also argue that this typescript played no role in the publication history of Doctor Zhivago. Thus, all the key claims made in my book are unaffected by this further research, which however completes the picture of the history of the typescripts that were sent by Pasternak outside the Soviet Union. The article appeared in Across Borders: 20th Century Russian Literature and Russian-Jewish Cultural Contacts. Essays in honor of Vladimir Khazan.  Edited by Lazar Fleishman and Fedor Poljakov (Stanford Slavic Studies. Vol. 48), Peter Lang Verlag, Berlin etc., 2018, pp. 587-623.

At long last, Peredelkino!

This year  has been full of events related to Doctor Zhivago. Two important anniversaries explain the flood of activities. November 22 coincided with the 60th anniversary of the publication of Doctor Zhivago by Feltrinelli in Milan. In addition, the centenary of the October Revolution (October in Russia but November in the West on account of the different calendars) added to the interest on Doctor Zhivago. Here is the chronicle of my activities in this connection.

Throughout the year I have been collaborating with three different documentaries

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BNF, Paris. Nino Kirtadze is on the left and Anne Verdure-Mary on the right

on Pasternak and Doctor Zhivago which are being produced by the BBC, by Producciones Arboleda in Spain, and by the Franco-German channel ARTE. I took an especially active role in the ARTE documentary. I spent the last week of June in Paris shooting with the gifted Georgian director Nino Kirtadze. This involved five days of shooting at, among other places, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (site Richelieu-Louvois). The visit to the BnF also allowed me to study in detail three long postcards that Boris Pasternak sent to Brice Parain, lecteur at Gallimard. I thank Anne Verdure-Mary, conservateur of the Département des manuscrits at the BnF, for her help in facilitating the consultation of the documents and for her help in obtaining the rights for publishing. The transcription of the three postcards will soon appear in an article of mine that is forthcoming in a volume edited by Lazar Fleishman. Kirtadze, her assistants, and I also managed  to fly to Milan on June 30 in order to shoot with Carlo Feltrinelli at the new Feltrinelli Foundation in Milan. For the occasion, Carlo Feltrinelli brought out from

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With Carlo Feltrinelli at the new Feltrinelli Foundation. The original typescript of Doctor Zhivago is on the table

the safe the original typescript of Doctor Zhivago. This is the typescript that Boris Pasternak sent to Giangiacomo Feltrinelli through Sergio d’Angelo in May 1956 and that was used to prepare the Italian edition in 1957. In addition, Carlo Feltrinelli proudly told us that the large “passeggiata” facing the new Feltrinelli Foundation has been named after Boris Pasternak (see here). The ARTE documentary should be released in February 2018.

On July 10, I gave a talk on the publishing history of Doctor Zhivago at the Fondazione Sardegna in Cagliari.  On July 30, I presented my book Zivago nella Tempesta (Feltrinelli 2015) at the Festival “Sette sere, sette piazze, sette libri” in Perdasdefogu (Sardinia). I thank Alessandra Piras and Giacomo Mameli for having organized the events and Prof. Luciano Marrocu (University of Cagliari) for the insightful introductory comments and the moderation of the first event as well as for his comments in the second event. Special thanks also to Gavino Murgia who provided the beautiful music that accompanied the event.

On October 2, I gave a talk at the University of Pisa (Dipartimento di Filologia, Letteratura e Linguistica) at the behest of Professor Stefano Garzonio. The title of the talk was “I dattiloscritti dello Zivago e la fonte dell’edizione pirata russa della CIA” (“The Zhivago typescripts and the source of the pirate Russian edition by the CIA”). The talk presented the main results contained in my book Zhivago’s Secret Journey (Hoover Press, 2016).

On November 8, Carlo Feltrinelli and I gave a joint talk at EL BORN Centro de la Memoria in Barcelona.


Poster for the talk at the Centro de la Memoria

The talk was part of a series of talks on the Russian Revolution. It was an interesting time to be in Barcelona: the date of our talk coincided with the general strike. Fortunately, the Centro managed to stay open despite the strike and we were able to deliver the talk. It was an honor to have as moderator an eminent publisher such as Jorge Herralde, founder and director of Editorial Anagrama. And, of course, a great pleasure to continue sharing with Carlo Feltrinelli the Zhivago adventure.

On November 16, I presented Zivago nella Tempesta (Feltrinelli 2015) at the Feltrinelli bookstore in Ferrara. The event came about thanks to the initiative of my friend and colleague Marcello d’Agostino (Università Statale, Milan) and his wife Savina Scavo. It was organized as a conversation with Marco Bertozzi,


With Marco Bertozzi in Ferrara

a philosopher at the University of Ferrara. It was a great pleasure to share the stage with Marco, whose subtle reading of my book and insightful questioning made the evening a great success.

The most exciting event for me this semester was a trip to Moscow

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Paolo Mancosu in Moscow

from November 29 to December 3. I had not been back in Moscow since my two month stay as a guest of the Steklov Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences in summer 1990. The invitation this time came from the publishers of the Russian translation of my book Smugglers, Rebels, Pirates. Itineraries in the publishing history of Doctor Zhivago (Hoover Press, 2015). The Russian title is: Контрабандисты, бунтари, пираты, Перипетии истории издания«Доктора Живаго» (Азбуковник, Москва, 2017). I am delighted with the edition. The publishing house Azbukovnik is run by Leonid Grigorovich and Irina Barsel. Leonid and Irina organized two events at the Moscow Book Fair (Non fiction, no. 19) and an event at the House/Museum Pasternak in Peredelkino. As chance would have it, my assistant and collaborator Paul Borokhov was in St. Petersburg during this period and came down to join me for the talk in Peredelkino and for the second event at the Moscow book fair. 1019496123 copyThe first event at Non fiction no. 19 took place on November 29. Azbukovnik presented its recent titles including, in addition to the Russian translation of my book,  a book edited by Lazar Fleishman titled Новое о Пастернаках [New studies on Pasternak], (Азбуковник, Москва, 2017). The book contains, among many other interesting things, a long article I co-authored with Paul Borokhov: “Sergio d’Angelo’s correspondence with Olga Ivinskaya and Boris Pasternak” (pp. 218-309). In addition to the organizers of the event, Leonid and Irina, I was delighted to share the stage with Elena Vladimirovna Pasternak and Lazar Fleishman. Elena Vladimirovna and Lazar  were also present for the talk in Peredelkino, on December 1, and for the second event at the Moscow Book Fair, on December 2.

Visiting Pasternak’s house/museum in Peredelkino,

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Poster for the talk in Peredelkino

on December 1, was very moving. After so many years of engagements with Pasternak and Doctor Zhivago, it was quite an emotional moment to visit the place where the poet lived and worked. For the occasion, I delivered a talk on my recent work on the Ivinskaya case titled “Olga Ivinskaya and the loss of Pasternak’s “will” “. Paul Borokhov joined me and provided simultaneous translation. The talk has been posted on youtube at the following link. My talk was followed by a talk by Lazar Fleishman. The atmosphere was pleasant and convivial; the conversation after the talks went on for hours.

Finally, on December 2, there was the second meeting organized by Azbukovnik at the Moscow Book Fair. At the center of attention was Elena Vladimirovna Pasternak’s new book on Leonid Pasternak (Boris’ father, a famous painter).

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Irina Barsel, Lazar Fleishman, Elena V. Pasternak and Paolo Mancosu at Non fiction no. 19

But other recent publications by Azbukovnik (including Smugglers in Russian) were also discussed.

The last event of the semester was a talk with Stefano Garzonio at the Scuola Universitaria Superiore IUSS in Pavia. The event was organized by prof. Andrea Sereni, a friend and a colleague. After brief presentations


Paolo Mancosu and Stefano Garzonio in Pavia

by myself and Prof. Garzonio, the event consisted of a conversation between the two of us and questions from the audience. I am very grateful to Stefano not only for his deep and illuminating comments at the event in Pavia but also for the way he has encouraged me and supported my research on Doctor Zhivago in the past five years.

Most of these events have been covered by the press: L’Unione Sarda (30 July 2017), La Nuova Sardegna (30 July 2017), El Periódico de Catalunya (10 November 2017), Il Resto del Carlino (16 November 2017), La Provincia Pavese (6 December 2017), Il Foglio (December 7). A recent full page interview on the author’s work on Doctor Zhivago has appeared in Il Messaggero of December 18, 2017 (the interview was also published in Alganews on December 19).







Souvarine and Berberova

In his magisterial “The Encounter of the Russian Emigration with Doctor Zhivago” (2009; second edition as Fleishman 2013), Lazar Fleishman investigated the role of the Russian emigration in the publication and the reception of Doctor Zhivago. Among other things, Fleishman was interested in the role of TsOPE (ЦОПЭ) and Nina Berberova in the saga of the publication of the Russian text. This post is a footnote to Fleishman’s book and contributes some interesting details connected to TsOPE and to Berberova’s role, or lack thereof, in the publication of the Russian text of the novel. The new material comes from the correspondence between Boris Souvarine and Nina Berberova.

Let’s begin with some background. At least six typescripts of Doctor Zhivago arrived in the West between May 1956 and March 1957. The story of those typescripts and their role in the publication history of Doctor Zhivago is recounted in my “Zhivago’s Secret Journey: from typescript to book” (2016). None of those typescripts reached the political organization of Russian emigrés known as TsOPE. Indeed, Pasternak was wary of any publication of his novel that could be traced to émigrés political organizations because this would have worsened his position in the Soviet Union.

TsOPE stands for “Central Union of Postwar Immigrants”, a Munich based group; in 1957 it renamed itself “Central Union of Political Immigrants”. While the acronym TsOPE remained the same, the group changed the nature of its work and expanded.

In September 1957 a New York office was opened of which Nina Berberova became the secretary.


Nina Berberova

In a letter to Yuri Ivask, who had asked details about TsOPE, she wrote:

To answer your question: TsOPE is the Central Union of Political Immigrants in Munich. They publish an illustr.[ated] monthly “Svoboda [Freedom]” for which I work. The almanacs will be called “Almanacs of Freedom.” This isn’t a political party and there won’t be any politics, no “Bolshevik-eating” either, just a literary space for which it seems there is a need. By the way, the first issue will contain some hitherto unknown prose by Pasternak. (Berberova to Ivask, 15 February 1958, Berberova Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale)

It is obvious that TsOPE was interested in the work of Pasternak. But were they involved in the publication of Doctor Zhivago in Russian? As far as we can tell, it took almost a year and a half from the arrival of the first typescript of Doctor Zhivago in the West (the one brought by d’Angelo to Feltrinelli in May 1956) until efforts were made on the part of members of TsOPE to get hold of a typescript of Doctor Zhivago. In November 1957, just a few days before the first worldwide publication of Doctor Zhivago (in Italian), a member of TsOPE, Victor Frank, was looking for a copy of the Russian typescript. On November 18, 1957, he wrote to his mother, Tat’yana Seergevna as follows:

I dream of organizing its publication in Russian. Here, at TsOPE, we have the money for that, and I have written to Katkov with a request to find out whether it is possible to obtain the Russian text. It would be funny and embarrassing if the novel was published in all languages, except for Russian—and it would be impossible to harm Pasternak now because the novel is being published abroad anyway and the Soviet authorities know that there are a number of copies of the Russian text beyond their borders. (Quoted in Fleishman 2009, 43–44)

George Katkov had visited Pasternak in September 1956 and had received his own copy of the typescript in March 1957. But he knew that Pasternak would have been endangered by a publication originating from émigrés organizations such as TsOPE and surely he did not heed Frank’s request for the original Russian typescript.

Meanwhile plans for publication of the Russian text were taking shape in France. Pasternak had given two typescripts of his novel to two young French scholars, Hélène Peltier and Jacqueline de Proyart. The two typescripts were in France by February 1957. Peltier and de Proyart were charged by Pasternak with the task of finding a publisher for the French translation and also to look into the possibility of publishing the Russian text. Gallimard was soon contacted and plans for the translation of Doctor Zhivago into French were under way by the summer of 1957.

At the same time Nicolas Nabokov,


Nicolas Nabokov

the secretary of the Congress for the Freedom of Culture, and Boris Souvarine proposed to Gallimard a limited edition of the Russian text. Boris Souvarine (1895–1984) was a French Marxist and a founder of the French Communist Party. In the early twenties, he had been a member of the Comintern, from which he had been expelled in 1924 on account of his anti-Stalinist stand. He was also a historian, essayist, and journalist with a deep knowledge of Soviet matters.

On August 29, 1957, Brice Parain –lecteur at Gallimard– wrote the following memo for Claude Gallimard:

Memo for Mr Claude Gallimard. B. Pasternak. NABOKOV (not the writer but the musician, the one at UNESCO) who is very excited by Pasternak’s novel (he has read it in Russian using the text which is in England) would like and could arrange for a publication of a Russian edition in France with a limited edition of 1000 copies not for sale so that the book could at least be found in Western libraries. One would of course first need to obtain Pasternak’s authorization. If the answer is positive, Boris SOUVARINE asks whether you would be willing to put your name on this Russian edition. NABOKOV would cover the entire costs of the operation. This edition would be strictly not for sale in order not to hamper PASTERNAK’s conversations with the Soviet government. 29 August 1957, B. PARAIN (Archives Gallimard, Paris)

A second memo, dated November 21, 1957, says:

Pasternak’s novel. Boris SOUVARINE and NABOKOV (the one at UNESCO) having learned that we have negotiated for PASTERNAK’s novel with FELTRINELLI insist that we should consider the possibility of a Russian edition with our imprint. Let me remind you that their proposal is the following: this Russian edition will be limited to approximately 1,000 copies, not for sale; all the expenses will be covered through funds that they will put together and it will only be under this condition that we will engage with the proposal. What they desire is to be sure that the complete Russian text will exist, even if it is not published in the USSR, so that it could be distributed to libraries and institutions in the Western world. B. PARAIN, 21 November 1957 (Archives Gallimard, Paris)

These two memos give us the context for the Souvarine-Berberova correspondence that I would like to bring to the attention of the reader. In the Souvarine Papers at Harvard there is a letter from Nina Berberova to Boris Souvarine written on December 17, 1957.

Boris Souvarine

Boris Souvarine

The letter, which bears the stamp “Z.O.P.E. American Branch 430 West 57th St. New York 19, N.Y.” contains some interesting elements and shows that TsOPE had not yet managed to get a typescript of Doctor Zhivago:

Nina Berberova-Kochevitsky

December 17, 1957

Dear Boris,

Here are a few lines from someone whom you surely have forgotten a long time ago. I am in New York, I work, and I went through some pretty strange hard times. I have been married since 1954 (to a musician). At times I see again some mutual friends who speak about you (when they return from Europe). For a very long time I kept a distance from any “emigrantskie” business. In September an organization (Munich) asked me to take care of their business in the USA. It is TsOPE (Central’noe Ob’edinenie Politicheskikh Emigrantov). Some recent emigrants want to publish a thick and heavy (and slighly inflated, on the one hand) collection of “Russian literature”, which, they claim, is still alive! I try to do some things and I have promised them to ask you if you have in your hands Pasternak’s typescript (Doctor Zhivago), in Russian, of course. The fact is that these lads in Munich have a printing press which they own and something in this direction could be done, if you understand what I mean [the last clause in English in the original, PM]. There is total disinterest on their part on financial matters, no one wants to profit from it. But they heard that in Paris, where apparently the manuscript circulates, there are people who actually want to profit from this. Perhaps it would be good for you (if you are looking for a publisher) to get in contact with them. Here is the address:

            Herr Georg Pismenny

            Hohenzollernstrasse 79/I

            München 13, Germany

I plan to come visit you in 1959. I have already started saving money. I have a thousand things to tell you and a thousand to ask you. AFK [Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky] is old and sad, BIN [Boris Ivanovich Nikolaevsky] sleeps on different couches here and there; Volsky (de Plessy Robinson) does not write to me anymore. I heard that the Sputnik was the coup de grace for him.

All the best,

Nina Berberova

(Souvarine Papers, Houghton library; carbon copy also available in the Berberova Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale; original in French)

What information can we draw from the letter? First of all, it is clear that TsOPE was actively looking for a typescript of Doctor Zhivago and that Frank’s efforts had not been crowned with success (otherwise there would have been no reason for Berberova to continue looking for the typescript). Secondly, Berberova had some vague information about a typescript circulating in Paris and the fact that Souvarine had something to do with it.

Souvarine replied to Berberova on December 28, 1957. On the Zhivago issue he wrote:

What you say about Doctor Zhivago is inexact. I am well informed on this: the typescript does not circulate, no one has it, except Feltrinelli who has entrusted copies to Gallimard and Collins for the translations. The instructions are well respected, there are no leaks, the translators are serious and will not let go of the Russian text. In France four translators are at work, each one responsible for one fourth of the novel.

            Someone whose name I am not authorized to mention has the intention to publish the original Russian in one year, in an edition not for sale and only for libraries. Let us hope that no obstacles will come in between. If anything new comes up, I will inform you. (Souvarine to Berberova, December 28, 1957; Berberova Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale; original in French)

It is almost certain that Souvarine was intentionally hiding the fact that, in addition to the photocopy of Feltrinelli’s typescript for Gallimard, there were also the typescripts owned by de Proyart and Peltier in France. Regardless, the above information corresponds exactly with the contents of the Gallimard memos and it is easy to see that the unnamed person was Nicolas Nabokov. Souvarine knew the translators of the novel and appeared to be well-informed about the French publication projects.

On January 20, 1958, Souvarine wrote  a short letter to Berberova:

Dear friend, there are some news. Someone has arrived from Moscow with an authorization written by Pasternak for the publication of his text in Russian. But then it was realized that he had already given a similar authorization to others. Feltrinelli, for his part, claims to have all the rights. From this mess, anyway, sooner or later a Russian edition will appear. The essential is that it be done well.

Yours, B.S. (Souvarine to Berberova, January 20, 1958; Berberova Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale; original in French)

The person who had come back from Moscow was Hélène Peltier who brought back several news and letters from Pasternak. Pasternak had been informed by Peltier that a plan to have the Russian text published with Mouton, a Dutch publisher, was discussed on December 12, 1957, among Jacqueline the Proyart, her husband Daniel, Hélène Peltier, Clemens Heller and two Mouton representatives (on the whole episode see de Proyart 1994 and Mancosu 2013). Among the letters Peltier brought back from Moscow was one for Feltrinelli explicitly asking Feltrinelli to leave de Proyart and Peltier in charge of the Russian edition of the text with Mouton. The Souvarine-Nabokov project of publishing the Russian text was derailed by the fact that Pasternak had entrusted the project to de Proyart and Peltier.

Berberova replied on January 26, 1958:

Dear friend,

As I know you are overwhelmed by work and what your days look like, I am quite touched by your letter giving me news of Zhivago. I hope that the differences between Feltrinelli and “the man who came from Moscow” will not end up in court and will not delay the publication of the book. You say: “The essential is that it be done well.” As something tells me that you will be in charge of it+, I am sure it will, IF they will let you do it.

In the note corresponding to + she added:

“It is neither a question nor an insinuation. You need not answer me.” (Souvarine Papers, Houghton library; original in French)

A note from Brice Parain to Souvarine preserved in the Souvarine Papers confirms that Souvarine had been lent the Russian typescript on September 9, 1958. By that time the Mouton edition, a CIA sponsored pirate edition, had already come out in early September 1958 in Holland (see Mancosu 2016). While the TsOPE office in New York, received two copies of the Mouton edition and passed one to the Russian daily Novoe Russkoe Slovo, little can be concluded from that as to Berberova’s knowledge of what had happened with the Russian edition. Indeed, from two letters exchanged between Berberova and Souvarine at the end of 1958, it becomes clear that she was in the dark as to who was behind the Mouton edition. In a letter to Souvarine, dated December 7, 1958, Berberova wrote that in the last months she had vaguely felt his presence in the Doctor Zhivago affair. Souvarine replied to Berberova on December 10, 1958 claiming only some involvement in the French developments: “non je n’y suis pour rien, sauf dans une certaine mesure, en France, mais ce serait trop long à raconter”. And while it is unfortunate that Souvarine did not say more about his involvement with Doctor Zhivago in France, by implication he excluded any role in the publication of the Russian edition of Doctor Zhivago.

It is my sense that after the information Souvarine had given to Berberova, TsOPE gave up on the idea of publishing a Russian edition of Doctor Zhivago. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that when Katkov visited Victor Frank in Munich in early March 1958, Katkov went to speak to the American Consul in Munich concerning Pasternak and the publication of Doctor Zhivago in Russian. As part of a follow up the Consul, Edward Page, Jr., wrote to the Department of State in Washington:

A few preliminary inquiries by the Consulate General tend to indicate that there are no plans by Soviet emigrès, or similar groups in Munich, to bring out a Russian edition of DR. ZHIVAGO.

[signature] Edward Page, Jr., American Consul General, (cited in Zhivago’s Secret Journey, p. 178)

Let us conclude by revisiting Berberova’s article in Svoboda published in July 1958, which prima facie seemed to provide evidence for claiming that she had inside information about the efforts connected to the publication of the Russian Zhivago. She wrote:

Doctor Zhivago has so far only been published in Italian, and yet all across Europe and America articles concerning it have appeared. Various rumors abound, some of which can be verified, while others can’t. It is reliably well-known that the novel will soon be published in France, England, and the US. Will it be released in Russian? Without a doubt – but not in the Soviet Union. …

“But where is the Russian edition?” the reader will ask. “Where is it? Are we really never going to see it?” Rumors, and only rumors – unverified and contradictory – are flying from Europe to America and back. The following conclusions can be drawn from them:

The novel will be published in Russian in Paris at the end of 1958, but it is not yet known whether it will be widely available or if it will appear only as a “semi-fancy” edition for libraries and collectors. This is essentially already settled, or at the very least, had been settled until recently. In recent days there have been rumors that Pasternak gave the rights to publish the novel in Russian abroad to one person who had been to Russia, but not Feltrinelli. Since Feltrinelli, seemingly, has all the rights (being both Pasternak’s publisher and agent), is an argument brewing over this issue, and could this argument influence the release of the book? All of these are merely conjectures. An argument, or even potentially a court battle, between two individuals who have Pasternak’s approval to publish his novel in Russian, is undoubtedly a threat to the successful publication of the novel. We hope that things do not go that far.” (N. Berberova, About the novel “Doctor Zhivago”, cited in the original Russian in Fleishman 2009, p. 111)

Referring to these passages, on p. 113 of his 2009 book, Fleishman wrote:

The provided citation from Berberova’s article is evidence that she was, undoubtedly, aware of the efforts underway in preparing the Russian publication of Pasternak’s novel and was informed – or, more precisely, found it necessary to tell readers – of the conflict that erupted between the (unnamed in the article) countess Jacqueline de Proyart (who met with the poet in January 1957) and Feltrinelli (who signed a contract/agreement with Pasternak in the summer of 1956).

On p. 154 Fleishman added:

We will add here that the late A. M. Milrud, who was the curator of TsOPE’s activities, in discussions with us told us how he was provided with a proof of the Russian edition of Zhivago for correction in a great hurry, for practically just one day. N. Berberova’s remarks in her article about the prospects of the publication of Zhivago in Russian are also clarified in this light. We can understand why, despite her underscoring of the conflict (presumably, exaggerated) between the two sides who were granted publication rights by Pasternak, Berberova was absolutely certain that the book would be published without delay – before the end of the year. It’s also clear why news of the appearance of the first Russian copies specifically at TsOPE were announced in NRS [Novoe Russkoe Slovo] so relatively early – already in the second half of September – before Jacqueline [de Proyart], Hélèn [Peltier], and [Giangiacomo] Feltrinelli himself had hoped for the Russian edition to see the light of day.

However, it seems to me that Berberova in her article was simply repeating the information, by then outdated, that she had obtained from Souvarine in January 1958. Her statements do not show that she was in any way au fait of what was going on with the Mouton saga.   However, Milrud’s testimony, reported by Fleishman, still leave open the challenge of understanding how much TsOPE was involved in the events related to the Mouton edition. And while it is by now accepted by scholars that there was no printing of the Russian text on the part of TsOPE, other forms of involvement (proof checking, distribution, etc.) are a definite possibility.


Fleishman, Lazar. 2009. Vstrecha russkoĭ ėmigratsii s ‘Doktorom Zhivago’: Boris Pasternak i kholodnaia voĭna [The encounter of the Russian émigré community with “Doctor Zhivago”: Boris Pasternak and the Cold War]. Stanford Slavic Studies 38.

Fleishman, Lazar. 2013. Boris Pasternak i Nobelevskaia premiia [Boris Pasternak and the Nobel Prize]. Moscow: Azbukovnik (a new edition of Fleishman 2009).

Mancosu, Paolo. 2013. Inside the Zhivago Storm: The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece. Milan: Feltrinelli.

Mancosu, Paolo, 2016, Zhivago’s Secret Journey, Hoover Press, Stanford.

Pasternak, Boris. 1994. Lettres àmes amies françaises: 1956–1960. Introduction and notes by Jacqueline de Proyart. Paris: Gallimard.

Zhivago’s Secret Journey is out

I am delighted to announce that Zhivago’s Secret Journey: From Typescript to Book (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2016) is now out.

51N1HHa6T8L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_I append the description found in the flaps of the cover together with the endorsements by Prof. Robert Service (Oxford) and Prof. Lazar Fleishman (Stanford) found in the back cover.

Boris Pasternak began writing Doctor Zhivago in 1945. In 1948 he sent the first four chapters to his sisters in England, aware of the dangers his work in progress would pose for him with the Soviet authorities. The novel was completed in 1955 and between May 1956 and March 1957, Pasternak sent at least six typescripts outside the USSR. This book tells the story of those typescripts.

Continuing the research he began in his 2013 book Inside the Zhivago Storm, Paolo Mancosu conveys through newly discovered archival sources the excitement and pleasure generated by the exploration of events that were treated as top secret by all those involved.

Pasternak had sent Doctor Zhivago abroad hoping to pressure the Soviets to publish the novel at home. Although this effort failed, the astounding success of the translations took everyone by surprise. The book became a tool of the Cold War, with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secretly orchestrating  a pirate publication of the Russian text in Holland in 1958. Two long-standing mysteries concerning the publication of this pirate edition were determining which typescript served as basis for the edition and who passed the typescript to the CIA. Through a detailed philological analysis, Mancosu solves the first problem and then offers, in the last chapter, a new perspective on who might have given the typescript to the CIA.

Mancosu’s riveting narration of the history of the publication of Pasternak’s epic work takes the reader on a whirlwind tour covering the network of contacts that, from Russia to England, from Poland to Italy, from France to Uruguay, brought about the publication of the novel in Russian and other Western languages. This book constitutes a huge leap forward in our understanding of the most complex political-literary case of the twentieth century.


“Just when we thought that most of the mysteries had been cracked, Paolo Mancosu’s book shows how the foreign publication of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago was an even more complex process than anyone could have imagined. A wonderful work of a true scholar.”
Robert Service, Emeritus Professor of Russian History, St Antony’s College, Oxford

“Paolo Mancosu’s path-breaking  investigations, carried out in public and private archives in several countries, have resulted in a brilliant monograph on the history of the first (the CIA-assisted) publication of the Russian original text of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago in 1958. Mancosu’s new book resolves almost all the riddles that have haunted Pasternak scholars for more than half a century.”
Lazar Fleishman, Professor of Russian Literature, Stanford University