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“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

Zhivago in Mexico and South America (Argentina and Chile)

This is the third and last installment of the series on Doctor Zhivago‘s pirate editions in Mexico and South America. I have decided to leave the original quotes in Italian and Spanish.

Argentina. Tesone went to Buenos Aires to deal with “the pirates” and arrived on January 2, 1959.

Tesone copy

Antonio Tesone

In a letter to Feltrinelli, dated January 8 1959, Tesone informed Feltrinelli that he had managed to have the pirate edition prepared by E.D.R. in Buenos Aires sequestered. He wrote:

Caro Signor Feltrinelli,

Sono qui dal giorno due e la situazione è attualmente a questo punto:

Tre sono le edizioni pirate di cui si abbia sicura conoscenza. Vagamente si parla anche di altre, ma finché queste restano –come finora–totalmente alla macchia, da un lato, non è possibile colpirle e, d’altro lato, non arrecano alcun fastidio.

It is thus sure that despite his being in Buenos Aires, Tesone had not heard anything about the Uruguaian editions, let alone the Mexican one. They are never mentioned in any other documents preserved in the Feltrinelli archives. Of the three pirate Argentianian editions  Tesone had become aware of the first one was quickly dealt with:

Contro l’edizione D.E.R. (Distributori Editori Riuniti: gente infida in tutto il mondo quelli della E.D.A.! [Editori Distributori Associati was Feltrinelli’s distribution agency, P.M.]) si è chiesto, ottenuto ed eseguito un decreto di sequestro, ponendo sotto vincolo anche tutto il materiale di composizione. Attualmente pende la causa di convalida e di merito e mi sto battendo, come sempre e dovunque, per far accogliere la mia solita tesi che non incombe a noi l’onere di provare l’esistenza del famoso contratto con Pasternak. Sotto il profilo commerciale, questa edizione pirata non presenta peró più alcun problema per noi.

The owner of D.E.R, Damián Carlos Hernández, was one of the people that Noguer (and Feltrinelli) sued for copyright infringement (see appendix).

We will have to come back to Tesone’s legal claim, for it is the cornerstone of the legal wrangles and complexities in which Feltrinelli found himself when trying to assert his rights to Doctor Zhivago. After the first court judgment in Buenos Aires of May 5, 1959, the sequestering order was removed (see appendix). There is however no trace that this edition ever came to light. Tesone continued his letter thus:

Maggiori difficoltà si sono incontrate con la seconda edizione corsara: quella de El Forjador (forgiatore di nome anche se forcaiolo di fatto).


El Doctor Yivago, Editorial Forjador, Buenos Aires, 1958

Si tratta di un disperato in istato di dissesto che giuoca tutte le carte su questa scadentissima edizione tirata su carta straccia con corpo tipografico piccolissimo e praticamente non leggibile. Anche qui si è chiesto ed ottenuto un decreto di sequestro, solo che non si riusciva ad eseguirlo per l’assoluta irreperibilità delle copie. Avevo progettato di far intervenire la nostra Ambasciata nei confronti del ministero argentino degli interni per sollecitare un’indagine della polizia. Senonché Giancola, l’addetto commerciale, è stato improvvisamente destinato all’Onu ed è immediatamente partito per l’Italia il giorno stesso che io sono arrivato. Babuscio Rizzo, l’ambasciatore è per contro rientrato dall’Italia solo ieri e mi ha intrattenuto questa mane in un lungo colloquio. Molta cordialità e convenevoli, ma anche la solita inerzia diplomatica: se possibile, evitare a tutti i costi un incidente con l’autorità locale e negare con diplomatica eleganza di introdurre la e.d. Nota Verbale al Governo Argentino. Ero preparato al tradizionale fin de non recevoir, e così ho preannunciato che, se necessario, avrei espresso a titolo assolutamente personale, quale privato cittadino di uno stato amico, meraviglia e stupore per l’illegalità trionfante in campo editoriale in un paese grande e civile (ma non troppo!) come l’Argentina. Tanto è bastato alla nostra inestimabile diplomazia per gettar la spugna, assumendo che in tal caso li avrei violentati a presentare quella nota verbale che intendevano rifiutarmi. Buono a sapersi, anche se ritengo che ormai la cosa sia superata avviandosi, anche qui, la battaglia alla scaramuccia finale. Ieri infatti El Forjador, col coraggio dei disperati, è salido a la calle, facendo la prima apparizione in qualche libreria. Ho subito disposto perché sui due più importanti quotidiani locali –La Prensa e la Nacion – apparisse in data di oggi e in tutte le edizioni la Notificacion allegata alla presente e, nel contempo, ho invitato l’avvocato Mendilaharzu, che è il legale efficiente e competente nominato dall’Editorial Noguer, a sollecitare dal Giudice dell’Ufficio di istruzione un ordine di sequestro penale diramato per telegrafo a tutte le stazioni di polizia. Questa sera ho saputo che il provvedimento è stato concesso e si trova già in stato di esecuzione presso le librerie.

The translator is not named but the translation was made from the Italian text. The edition has 384 pages. The publication date on the copyright page reads November 30, 1958.

Tesone’s notification in La Nacion de Buenos Aires is shown below.

La Nacion

The notification against El Forjador, La Nacion, January 8, 1959

We will see that contrary to Tesone’s predictions, the legal battle against El Forjador, and his owner Demetrio Castagnola, was to become a difficult one. The edition is the following one. There were at least two printings of it but both of them appeared after the Nobel Prize.

I will come back below to the legal action pursued jointly by Feltrinelli and Noguer against El Forjador.

Let us now move to the last pirate edition and Tesone’s description of it.

Resta da dire della terza edizione per 10.000 esemplari preparata da una certa casa Indice e di fatto finanziata da un tale Granda sotto l’alto e discreto patrocinio del direttore della Casa de la Moneda! Questa è l’unica edizione decente anche se economica. Ne ho fatto controllare il valore letterario da un docente dell’Università di Cordoba e mi è stato detto che è buono.

            Sinora con questa gente vige un gentlemen’s agreement per cui noi soprassediamo a chiedere il sequestro e loro ad iniziare la distribuzione in attesa di perfezionare un eventuale accordo. Siamo ancora lontani, ma spero di avere domani un colloquio decisivo e conclusivo con Granda: miro ad acquistare l’intera edizione ad un prezzo conveniente: costo più una modestissima aliquota di utile, per sovrastampare Edit. Noguer e G.G. Feltrinelli, estromettere i clandestini e distribuire noi fissando il prezzo che il mercato consente.

Below is the cover page of the Indice edition.

Indice copy

El Doctor Yivago, Indice, Buenos Aires, 1958

The translation was made by Juan Robledo; it has 469 pages. In one of the first pages it is indicated that the book was printed on December 26, 1958 by Juan Castanola e Hijo (Rio de Janeiro 735, Buenos Aires). It makes reference to the French edition and it is quite clear from the beginning that it was translated from French. It also claims copyright for “Ediciones Indices, Buones Aires, 1958”.

It appears that Tesone’s plan for this last edition bore fruit. In a letter from Pardo to Feltrinelli, dated February 10, 1959, José Pardo, listing the new Noguer editions for Spain and South America, added:

Hay, además, la edición comprada a Granda – 12.000 ejemplares, que se pondrá a la venta muy pronto.

It thus appeared that Noguer had in fact bought the Indice edition. But was it put on sale? If it did, it was not before mid-February 1959. My own copy has a signature with the date 24-V-59. The copy I have in my hands does not show any Feltrinelli or Noguer copyright and/or any printing alterations that had been mentioned by Tesone.

In conclusion, Noguer, Feltrinelli, and Tesone seem to have been unaware of the Mexican and the Uruguayan editions. Of the three Argentinian editions only the first and the third led to a serious legal confrontation. However, in the legal case against El Forjador and D.E.R., we find two more publishers “Quetzal Editora”, whose distributor is identified as Dionisio Carlos Sáenz, and the “Ediciones Graphos”.

Sommario Doctor Zhivago copy

The summary of Doctor Zhivago published by Editora Quetzal in 1958

Quetzal had published a booklet of 89 pages that contained a digest of Doctor Zhivago by Gabriel Jimenez Correa. According to the book’s colophone, it was printed on November 20, 1958, by Hartug Bros. in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. It was obviously distributed in Argentina and other Latin American countries. It claimed to be a digest carried out on the original Russian but looking at the translation, it is more likely that the original Italian had been the source of the digest. Here is how it looked.

I have found no information about how “Ediciones Graphos” was involved in the Doctor Zhivago case.

Whether Noguer and Feltrinelli could have been successful in fighting the ‘pirates’ was questioned by other less scrupulous South American publishers and this allows me to bring in Chile into the picture.

Chile. The following passage, taken from a letter written by the director of Noguer, José Pardo, to Feltrinelli on February 10, 1959, gives a clear idea of the atmosphere surrounding such matters:

Distinguido colega:

Me es muy grato acusar recibo de su atenta del 4 en la que me informa amablemente sobre la gestión que llevó a cabo cerca de Vd. Ed Sr. Aldunade de la casa Zig-Zag de Santiago de Chile.

El Se. Aldunade nos había visitado en el mes de Enero pidiendo una sub-licencia para publicar en Chile una edición “abreviada” (!!!) de EL DOCTOR JIVAGO. Tal edición –según explicó– no debía rebasar la 250 ó 300 páginas, para hacerla asequibile a un amplio sector de lectores (!!!).

Yo manifesté al Sr. Aldunate que no entraba en nuestros propósitos otorgar una sub-licencia para Chile, pero que aun cuando rectificasemos este criterio lo que haríamos nunca serîa otorgar una sub-licencia para una versión mutilada. Le dije que lo impedía no solo nuestro contrato con Vd. Sino nuestro respeto por el autor y su obra y nuestra ética professional.

En el curso de la conversación el Sr. Aldunate se mostró muy escéptico sobre nesutra posibilidades de defense ante posibles ediciones “piratas”. No me pareció muy discrete por su parta sacar a colación este tema, pues para nadie es un secreto que Zig-Zag ha sido y es una editorial pirate. Me limité a decirle que en Chile tenîamos tomadas las medidas precautorias del caso y que estábamos dispuestos a pegar fuerte.

Pardo concluded by saying that although at the beginning there had been problems with stocking the book in Chile, the problem had now been overcome. Zig-Zag had not been the only publisher in Chile interested in Doctor Zhivago. Some further information about Chile’s interest in Doctor Zhivago is found in the preface to the translation of the Autobiography (Autobiografia) published (without any agreement with Feltrinelli) by Editorial del Nuevo Extremo of Santiago del Chile with a print date of January 29, 1959. In the preface the publishers wrote:

En febrero 1958 escribimos nuestra primera carta pidiendo los derechos para traducer al castellano la novella de Boris Pastérnak: El Doctor Zivago.

            Esto sucedía más de medio ano antes de que el gran poeta y novelista ruso fuera agraciado con el Premio Nóbel de Literatura. Seguros que nuestras gestiones tendrían exito, y de que podríamos entregar a Chile uno de los más interesantes testimonies artísticos de la época, dimos comienzo a la traducción de la obra. Desgraciadamente, no legamos un acuerdo complete con el entonces poseedor de aquellos derechos. Y todo, salva la convicción de haber luchado larga y lealmente, quedó en nada.

            Varios meses después supimos que existían nuevas posibilidades de llevar a buen término nuestro empeno: teníamos al alcance de nuestras manos una edición de El Doctor Zivago em lengua rusa. Pero ya era tarde para iniciar su traducción. Había otras ediciones en castellano que estaban por llegar a Chile, por lo que la magnitude de la empresa –tanto en tiempo come en costo– se tornaba difícil de sobrellevar.

In any case, we have seen that Aldunade’s project of a digest was eventually carried out by Quetzal.

Back to Argentina: The battle for the copyright against El Forjador and the “explosive document”

The above description might be of interest as part of the history of the editions of Doctor Zhivago but the legal battle against El Forjador’s owner, Demetrio Castagnola, (and some of the other pirates, see appendix) led to such an entangled situation that it can be used as a case study for the complexities of defending Pasternak and the copyright at the same time. I will present Tesone’s legal claim, the legal strategy followed by the Noguer legal representative, Eduardo Mendilaharzu, and the panic that ensued in Milan as a consequence of it; finally, I will conclude with the legal defeat of Feltrinelli in the Buenos Aires court.

Tesone’s legal claim. Let me begin by recalling that there was a contract between Feltrinelli and Pasternak signed by the latter on June 30, 1956 (for a photographic reproduction see Mancosu 2013, pp. 206-207). While the KGB informed the Central Committee of the CPSU in August 1956 of the existence of such a contract, the details were not exactly known and Pasternak’s protection depended on it not being known that he was earning royalties from the West. While it was important to protect Pasternak before and after the publication of Doctor Zhivago in Italian in November 1957, Pasternak’s well-being became an even bigger concern after the award of the Nobel Prize in October 1958. Thus, axiom number 1, the contract could not be shown. Tesone’s thesis was that in any kind of legal battles, it was not incumbent on Feltrinelli to show the contract and that widespread knowledge that the Italian translation was the first publication worldwide of Doctor Zhivago, should have been sufficient to protect the copyright. In addition, the Italian legislation allowed for a notary to summarize an official document so that the summary could have the same legal value as the original. Antonio Tesone received from Feltrinelli a photocopy of the famous contract on March 1, 1957. Feltrinelli kept the original in a bank in Switzerland (see also appendix). We can see Tesone’s thesis implemented even later, namely from the letter to the Greek lawyer John D. Fotopoulos dated January 22, 1960 concerning the legal action against “Kathimerini” and “Ethnicos Kirix”, two newspapers in Greece that were publishing Doctor Zhivago without any agreement with Feltrinelli. Replying to the request for a copy of the contract, Tesone wrote:

Per ciò che si riferisce alla parte strettamente giuridica della Sua relazione, mi limito ad osservare:

1) che non occorre esibire il contratto di edizione tra Pasternak e Feltrinelli Editore per invocare in Grecia la protezione del diritto d’autore come disposta dalla Convenzione di Berna. È suddificente, mi sembra, invocare il fatto incontestabile che la prima pubblicazione è avvenuta in Italia (art. 4 al 3 C.d.B.) perchè l’opera sia considerate italiana e l’autore e i suoi aventi causa abbiano perciò solo diritto alla protezione convenzionale.

As a replacement for a photocopy of the contract, Tesone often provided –as in this case– a notarized document from which it resulted that there existed a regular publishing contract for the printing, publication and sale of Doctor Zhivago and that Pasternak had ceded to Feltrinelli the rights for the translations in foreign languages.

Having explained Tesone’s thesis, let’s go back now to January 1959, when Tesone optimistically reports to Feltrinelli, in his letter from Buenos Aires, that the battle was nearing its end. From later correspondence it appears that Tesone had been overly optimistic. Tesone had gone to Buenos Aires, surely intentionally, without a copy of the contract with Pasternak. The judge in charge of the legal case against El Forjador insisted on seeing a copy of the contract. On January 30, after his return to Italy, Tesone sent a photographic reproduction of the contract to Noguer’s lawyer Mendilaharzu with precise instructions as to its use. Here is how Tesone recounts the January events to José Pardo of Noguer on August 10, 1959:

Fin dai nostri primi colloqui milanesi, ho tassativamente escluso che Feltrinelli fosse disposto ad utilizzare il contratto sottoscritto dall’Autore per prevalere dei pirati nelle procedure da introdurre contro gli stessi in Argentina o altrove.

            Ella ricorderà, sono certo, che costituiva preoccupazione dominante dell’Editore Feltrinelli che venisse salvaguardata l’integrità morale e fisica dell’Autore, altrimenti posta in pericolo dalla produzione di carte che lo compromettono irremediabilmente nei confronti delle Autorità del suo paese.

Let us pause for a second to remark how such statements fly in the face of those account in the Pasternak literature that describe Feltrinelli as “bent on extracting maximum business advantage from the situation” out of the Pasternak case (see Barnes 1998, p.326, and also p.p. 332 and 365).

Tesone continues by saying:

Così ricorderanno i Sigg. Avalis e Mendilaharzu che sono partito per l’Argentina senza questo documento in valigia e che, solo a seguito della vivissima insistenza di un Giudice e alla tassativa condizione che il contratto venisse esibito non allegato agli atti, ho acconsentito a spedirne una copia successivamente al mio rientro in Italia.

            Esiste, infine, la mia lettera del 30 gennaio 1959 con la quale fissavo limiti rigorosi e non superabili per l’uso del contratto Feltrinelli-Pasternak e richiedevo che il destinatario Mendilaharzu, una volta dimostrata in via private la nostra buona fede al Magistrato, provvedesse all’immediata restituzione di questo esplosivo documento all’editore Feltrinelli.

Mendilaharzu was the lawyer that was representing Noguer (and thus also Feltrinelli) in the legal case against the pirates in Argentina. As the above should make clear, something went wrong with the use of the document. Indeed, during the first week of July, Tesone had been informed, in a letter dated June 29, of an unexpected move by Mandilaharzu who, of his own initiative, had requested a rogatory letter aimed at having the copy of the contract sent to Pasternak so that he could acknowledge his signature on the contract as genuine. The reaction of Tesone and Feltrinelli was immediate. Here is what Tesone writes to Pardo on July 7, 1959:


Spett.le S.A.                                                                Milano, 7 luglio 1959

Editorial Noguer

Paseo de Gracia 98



Caro Avv. Pardo,

Non sono riuscito a realizzare una prenotazione telefonica con lei che avevo riservato questa mane per le ore 18 di oggi.

            Le scrivo dunque quanto avrei volute dirle, anche da parte del Sig. Feltrinelli.

            Ho appena ricevuto una lettera del Dott. Mendilaharzu in data 29 giugno 1959, con la quale mi informa essere in corso di attuazione la rogatoria in Russia, accompagnata da una copia del contratto Feltrinelli-Pasternak, perchè quest’ultimo riconosca l’autenticità della propria firma apposta in calce a tale scrittura.

            Tanto il Sig. Feltrinelli che io siamo estremamente sorpresi per la gravità della cosa che dovrà essere impedita a tutti i costi, con un deciso intervento da parte dell’Editorial Noguer.

            Il Dott. Mendilaharzu ha purtroppo commesso una grave scorrettezza, abusando della fiducia che gli era stata concessa da parte nostra ed evadendo dai tassativi limiti che erano stati da me posti con la lettera del 30 gennaio scorso relativa all’uso autorizzato e agli usi vietati del noto contratto.

            Nè avrei mai ritenuto, dopo aver letto la lettera Argullòs in data 6 giugno scorso, che Avalis e Mendilaharzu avrebbero proseguito sulla pericolosa strada intrapresa, l’esito della quale non può che essere disastroso per tutti, come Ella stesso riconosce nell’ultima parte della Sua lettera in data 10 giugno.

            Se da un lato, è inevitabile che le autorità sovietiche faranno pressioni all’Autore per impedire la conferma della rogatoria, d’altro lato, è chiaro che Feltrinelli e Noguer – in caso di persecuzioni derivanti a Pasternak da questa sciagurata iniziativa– riceveranno su scala mondiale una propaganda negativa e infamante che annullerà d’un colpo tutti i vantaggi acquisiti dagli stessi quali titolari dell’esclusiva nelle zone di rispettiva influenza.

            E questo, senza parlare dei rapporti umani che sarebbero irrimediabilmente pregiuducati una volta che si potesse sostenere che per amore di lucro non avete esitato a giocarvi l’integrità fisica dell’Autore.

            Io so, avvocato Pardo, che Lei è un gentiluomo e conosce da molti anni il mio Cliente Feltrinelli; ma gli altri, i Vostri concorrenti, i giornalisti, i pirati e, in genere, l’opinione pubblica mondiale non potrebbe ritrarre da questo disgraziato affare –se non fosse tempestivamente arestato–che un giudizio profondamente negativo sul piano morale e commerciale.

            E’ dunque necessario che l’Editorial Noguer e il Sig. Argullòs per l’Iber Amer di Barcellona confermino per telefono e telegrafo le istruzioni che passo immediatamente a dare a Mendilaharzu ed Avalis con la lettera allegata in copia.

            Il Sig. Feltrinelli attende di avere sollecite assicurazioni che i responsabili della grave situazione di pericolo così inconscientemente create hanno finalmente rimediato al mal fatto.

            In difetto, dovremmo inevitabilmente reagire con tutta la decisione e l’urgenza che il caso richiede perseguendo anche sul terreno giudiziario le responsabilità di coloro che sono all’origine di questa incredibile vicenda.

            Confido di leggerla d’accordo con noi, e sopratutto, attendo con il Sig. Feltrinelli di sapere con certezza che la rogatoria non avrà mai luogo.

            La prego di accogliere I migliori saluti, anche da parte del Sig. Feltrinelli che dovrà rinviare di qualche tempo il suo previsto viaggio in Ispagna.


Antonio Tesone


The letter also contained the howler for Mendilaharzu.


Egregio Signor                                                 Milano, 7 luglio 1959

Dr. Eduardo F. Mendilaharzu

Avenida de Mayo 749

Buenos Aires


Riscontro la sua del 29 giugno scorso.

            Il Sig. Feltrinelli ed io Le rivolgiamo formale ed espresso invito:

  1. – ad astenersi dal sollecitare l’esperimento della rogatoria in Russia all’Autore Boris Pasternak;
  2. – ad ottenere che la Magistratura non proceda neppure d’ufficio all’esperimento di tale rogatoria;
  3. – a rinunciare, se necessario, a tutte le procedure in corso se il loro preseguimento è subordinato all’esecuzione di tale incombente probatorio;
  4. – a ricordare che con la mia lettera 30 gennaio 1959 sono stati fissati limiti rigorosi e tassativi all’uso del contratto Feltrinelli-Pasternak;
  5. – a non fare conseguentemente più alcun uso d’ora in avanti dell’unica copia fotografica da me trasmessa di detto contratto, che dovrà anzi essere rispedita per posta aerea all’Editore Feltrinelli.

In mancanza di Sua ottemperanza alle istruzioni non modificabili di cui sopra, sono dolente Dott. Mendilaharzu di doverle scrivere che saremo costretti a tenere responsabili dell’inammissibile situazione attuale per tutte le conseguenze di pregiudizio e danni derivanti a chiunque, tutti coloro che hanno contravvenuto al mandato da noi conferito in occasione della trasmissione del documento.

            La gravità della situazione di pericolo posta in essere per l’Autore con questa incomprensibile iniziativa giudiziaria non mi consente, purtroppo, di assumere una posizione diversa.

            Riceverà conformi istruzioni dall’Editorial Noguer cui ho provveduto a scrivere altra lettera in data odierna.

            Copia della presente viene da me inviata, per quanto di sua competenza, anche al Sign. Avalis dell’Iber Amer Argentina.

            Le porgo distinti saluti.

Antonio Tesone.

In sending to Feltrinelli copies of the above correspondence, Tesone dryly commented:

“Dopo queste missive ho l’impressione che Spagna e Argentina diventeranno, per me e per Lei, paesi proibiti o quasi. Vero è però che questa gente ha meritato la nostra reazione ed ho dovuto fare grande fatica per contenere in termini urbani la contestazione.”

             We do not have the letter Pardo wrote in reply to this letter of July 7, 1959 but we know that Pardo replied on July 17 asking for explanations as to the prohibition of any use the contract. The letter from Tesone to Pardo, dated August 10, 1959, was Tesone’s reply to such request.

There is no question that this was the gravest crisis Feltrinelli had to face concerning his own actions with respect to Pasternak’s safety. Feltrinelli’s and Tesone’s analysis of the situation is also fully persuasive. Sending a copy of the contract to the USSR would have meant giving it to the Soviet authorities who would have forced Pasternak to deny that the signature was his and would have also retaliated against him. In addition, they would have become prey of all the negative campaign that would have ensued, which could easily have characterized them as sacrificing Pasternak for some pesos. The tone of the letters leaves no doubt as to the anguish that Mendilaharzu ill-conceived initiative provoked in Milan. Mendilaharzu had probably asked for the rogatory letter because the first judgment had been negative for Noguer and Feltrinelli (see “Sentencia de primera instancia dated May 5, 1959” reported fully in the appendix), despite the fact that the photocopy of the contract had been produced but its veracity had been questioned by the defendants (the pirates).

There had been many previous situations in which Feltrinelli had been asked to show the contract (negotiations and legal action for the movie, the confrontation with The University of Michigan Press concerning the Russian edition, the Greek pirate editions, etc.). He and Tesone never went against what I called axiom 1: the contract was not to be shown. This one exception almost proved disastrous. I think it sheds much light of the human, moral, business, and legal complications that were the essence of the Zhivago affair.

All of this was the consequence of the legal case against El Forjador and some of the other Argentinian pirates. In 2012 the Constitutional Court in Buenos Aires put on line the two court judgments (May 5, 1959, “primera instancia” and September 1, 1959, “segunda instancia”) concerning the case between Noguer and El Forjador at the following link, which contained the text I fully report in the appendix (I am not sure the link is active anymore).

Noguer and Feltrinelli lost and the pirates won. But it had been a calculated retreat. Noguer and Feltrinelli scored a moral victory by asserting the primacy of the moral and physical preservation of Boris Pasternak.



— Buenos Aires, mayo 5 de 1959. —
Resultando: Se presenta Eduardo F. Mendilaharza en representación de “Editorial Noguer” (S. A.), de Barcelona (España), imputando el delito de defraudación de derechos de autor (arts. 71 y 72, incs. a] y c], ley 11.723), al propietario responsable de “Editorial Forjador”, Demetrio Castagnola; al de “D.E.H.” (Distribuidora Editores Reunidos, S. R. L.), Damián Carlos Hernández; al de “Ediciones Graphos”, al de “Quetzal”, cuyo distribuidor doloso sería Dionisio Carlos Sáenz, y al de toda otra edición en castellano de “El Doctor Zhivago”, de Boris Leonidovic Pasternak, que no lleve la marca editorial de su representada o no esté autorizada por ella, en virtud de Lener, “Editorial Noguer” (S. A.) la exclusividad de traducción al español de dicha obra.
Tal derecho de exclusividad deriva del contrato de concesión celebrado entre los representantes de aquélla y “Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Editore, Sociedad en Comandita”, en Milán (Italia), en nov. 14/958, por el cual la última declara y confirma que es titular de los “copyrights” de dicha obra en virtud del contrato celebrado con el autor y en virtud, asimismo, de la Convención Internación de los derechos del autor de Ginebra, puesto que le primera edición ha sido publicada en noviembre de 1957 en Milán (Italia), es decir, en un país adherido a la citada Convención. El contrato mencionado, en certificación y testimonio extendido por el escribano Enrique Gabarro y Samso, de Barcelona (España), de la escritura extendida por el de Milán (Italia), Dr. Gianfranco Franchini, con la debida legalización diplomática, corre agregado de fs. 22 a 25 en los autos caratulados Editorial Noguer” (S. A.) v. “Editorial Forjador” y otros, s/daños e intereses, del juzgado nacional de 1ª instancia en lo civil a cargo del Dr. Alberto R. Gartland, que corre por cuerda.
Tendiente a acreditar la titularidad del derecho de edición y traducción por parte de “Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore”, el denunciante presenta fotocopia del contrato privado que se habría celebrado entre éste y el autor, fechado en Moscú en jun. 30/956, y cuya cláusula 4ª autoriza a aquél para ceder al extranjero los derechos de traducción parcial o integral de la obra, debiendo repartir por mitades con el autor las ganancias resultantes. Expresa el denunciante que “el original, por el valor y la importancia que tiene, está depositado en un Banco de Suiza”, y que no puede proporcionar otros elementos probatorios de que la cesión de Pasternak a Feltrinelli se ha realizado realmente, fuera de los que allí enumera, dadas las circunstancias especiales del autor que son de pública notoriedad, aclarando “que la práctica editorial es la de celebrar contratos de este tipo en forma privada”.
Con la finalidad de probar que la primera publicación de la obra “El Doctor Zhivago” realizada en el mundo fue la edición de Feltrinelli de nov. 15/957, presenta el denunciante copias fotográficas del reverso de la portada de dicha edición y de las ediciones alemana, inglesa, francesa y española, que reconocen a aquella como la primera. De fs. 125 a 129 corren agregadas reproducciones fotográficas de una solicitada publicada por la “Editorial S. A. Mouton y Cía.”, de la ciudad de la Haya, por la cual se destaca que la edición en ruso hecha por dicha editorial no fue autorizada por el editor Italiano, expresando al respecto el denunciante Mendilaharzu, “de lo quo surge el reconocimiento expreso de los derechos de Feltrinelli Editore hasta para publicar en ruso”, y agrega que “tiene entendido que sería materialmente imposible la prueba negativa en todos los países del mundo tendiente, a acreditar que no ha sido publicada la obra citada y que no preexiste una otra autorización a la de Feltrinelli. Que todos los elementos de juicio citados constituyen la presunción “juris tantum” de la primera publicación, que lo es la de Feltrinelli, en los términos de la Convención de Ginebra”. Luego de sugerir la solicitud de informes de editores argentinos acerca de cómo, en el consenso de éstos, de la de Feltrinelli la primera edición en el mundo, expresa que “considera que no podría realizar otra prueba que la referida, tendiente a acreditar que la primera publicación es la de Feltrinelli”.
A fs. 16 y 66, presta declaración testimonial Ofelia Secchia y refiere que, a solicitud del imputado Castagnola, facilitó a éste su domicilio y teléfono “para utilizarlos a raíz de un aviso que colocaría en los diarios, ofreciendo la venta de un libro”.
A f. 68, depone Mercedes Sobrino, que adquiriera en comercio de plaza un ejemplar de “El Doctor Zhivago”, en la “Editorial Forjador”.
A f. 67 y f. 09, respectivamente, Santiago Sentís Melendo y Rogelio Tomás Avalis manifiestan haber visto vender en la vía pública las ediciones impugnadas.
A fs. 132/vta., concluye el denunciante expresando: “Que en Italia, como en los restantes países de Europa, las leyes sobre derechos de autor no imponen formalidades a los efectos del amparo del derecho; que algunas, como Italia, tienen instituido un Registro voluntario de obras editadas en el país a los efectos de mejor pre constituir la prueba de un derecho, razón por la cual Feltrinelli realizó tal inscripción, como lo prueba el certificado glosado a f. 34, al cual sólo falta la legalización por parte de nuestro Min. de Relaciones Exteriores de la firma del cónsul argentino”.
En la demanda promovida por “Editorial Noguer” (S. A.) contra “Editorial Forjador y otros, sobre daños e intereses, ante el juzgado nacional de 1ª instancia en lo civil a cargo del Dr. Alberto R. H. Gartland, secretaría del Dr. Julio S. Gerez, donde la actora consiguió se librara manda, miento de secuestro de la edición Impugnada bajo caución, al presentarse en autos Demetrio Castagnola, en su carácter de único propietario de la “Editorial Forjador, que tiene en trámite la edición de la obra debatida (f. 29 del juicio que corre por cuerda), manifiesta que Feltrinelli publicó la obra en Italia contra prohibición que le hizo conocer Pasternak y que la primera publicación de aquella se efectuó en una revista literaria soviética en forma incompleta, citando al respecto un artículo de Juan Rodolfo Wilcock publicado en “La Prensa” de nov. 9/958, en que se expresa que “la Convención Universal de Ginebra, ratificada por la República Argentina, no es aplicable a este caso por ser Pasternak ruso, la obra «El Doctor Zhivago» rusa, desde que la Unión Rusa de los Soviets no ratificó la referida Convención Universal… si la primera publicación de la obra se hubiera efectuado en Italia, y se tratara de una edición autorizada por el autor, la obra podría tener la protección de la Convención de Ginebra. Como esto no ocurrió en el caso de «El Doctor Zhivago» como ya se ha dicho, el editor Feltrinelli y después la «Editorial Noguer» quieren valerse de la Convención de Ginebra para privar a otros editores del derecho que ellos están usufructuando, desde que de ningún documento resulta que abonen derechos de autor a Pasternak o que tengan concluido con éste algún pacto” en relación con los referidos derechos… Tampoco debemos olvidar que la U.R.S.S. no protege las obras de autores extranjeros, publicadas fuera de Rusia, salvo los casos en que la Unión Soviética tiene concluido un acuerdo con país en que se publicó la obra. Todas las obras argentinas pueden traducirse y publicarse en Rusia, sin abonar derecho alguno a su autor, siendo lógico que nosotros tengamos idéntico derecho con respecto a las obras rusas. Lo mismo ocurre con Italia y por ello la edición de Feltrinelli no es ilícita, a pesar de no tenerse autorización de Pasternak, desde que las obras de éste, y especialmente «El Doctor Zhivago», son propiedad pública en Italia y también en España…”.
A f. 21 de los autos “Editorial Noguer (S. A.) v. “D.E.R.” (S. R. L.), s/daños e intereses, promovidos por igual razón que el anterior y donde se lograra secuestrar bajo caución los plomos destinados a imprimir la edición impugnada, manifiesta Damián Carlos Hernández, en representación de la demandada, de la que es integrante, que la actora, para probar la exclusividad del derecho de traducción y publicación en castellano de la obra, debe acreditar: “a) que el autor era titular de su obra en todos los países del mundo; b) que aquél cedió válidamente a la Editorial Feltrinelli el derecho exclusivo de traducción a todos los idiomas de «El Doctor Zhivago»; c) que en esa cesión se cumplieron los requisitos exigidos por la ley italiana de protección del derecho de autor”.
En cuanto al punto a), dice que Pasternak no tiene sobre su obra el derecho exclusivo de traducción en virtud de no ser incluido tal derecho expresamente entre los que le pertenecen como autor en el art. 7 de la “Ley básica de derechos de autor” para La U.R.S.S. y además por no considerar violatorio de tal derecho a la traducción de la obra el art. 9 de la ley citada. Manifiesta que “este particularísimo régimen legal —que se funda en los beneficios de la difusión popular de las obras intelectuales dentro y fuera, de las fronteras soviéticas—, se confirma con otra disposición de la “Ley complementaria” de oct. 8/928 (texto oficial ruso publicado en “Sobranie Uzakonenil de las Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas”, Nº 132, de 1929, texto 861), cuyo art. 16 dispone que “el derecho de hacer traducciones y, de igual modo, las actuales traducciones al idioma ruso, de obras literarias publicadas en idiomas extranjeros dentro de los límites de la U.R.S.S., o fuera de sus limites, podrá ser declarado monopolio de la República por una Resolución del Consejo de Ministros de la U.R.S.S. Quiere ello decir que la regla general es también aquí la libertad de traducir.. .”.
El suscrito ha tenido a la vista el texto de la “Ley básica de «copyright» de la U.R.S.S.” en la publicación efectuada por la UNESCO bajo el título “Copyright laws and treaties of the world” en 1956, que se encuentra en el Reg. Nac. de la Propiedad Intelectual, actualizada por comunicaciones cursadas por la entidad internacional, haciendo saber modificaciones de las diversas leyes. El art. 7 establece que “el autor debe tener el derecho exclusivo de publicar su obra, bajo su nombre real, seudónimo, o sin indicar su nombre (anónimo), y a reproducir o dar curso a su obra por cualquier conducto legal dentro del período de tiempo fijado por la ley y a trasmitir los beneficios de ese derecho en cualquier forma legal”: el art. 9 preceptúa: “las siguientes no son infracciones a los derechos de autor: a) traducción de la obra de otra persona a un idioma distinto…”; el art. 16 dice: “El derecho de autor podrá ser enajenado en su totalidad o en parte por un contrato de edición, testamento o cualquier otra forma legal”; y el art. 20 establece, por último, que “el derecho de autor sobre cualquier obra puede ser compulsoriamente comprado por el Gobierno de la Unión Soviética o por el Gobierno de la República Constituyente en cuyo territorio fuera publicado primeramente como manuscrito, sketch o en cualquier otra forma de presentación”.
En cuanto a lo expresado en el punto c), manifiesta que, en el supuesto de haberse realizado realmente la cesión, no domiciliándose Pasternak en Italia, no le es aplicable la “ley italiana de derechos de autor” de 1941, que establece ese requisito para brindar su protección.
El suscrito tuvo también a la vista la ley italiana 633, para la protección del derecho de autor y otros derechos conexos con el ejercicio de los mismos, de abr. 22/941, actualmente en vigencia de acuerdo con la publicación de la UNESCO ya citada, en cuyo art. 185 se dice: “De acuerdo con las previsiones del art. 189 de esta ley, se aplicará a todas las obras de autores italianos en cualquier parte donde hayan sido publicadas por primera vez. También se aplicarán a las obras de un autor extranjero domiciliado en Italia, cuando sean publicadas por primera vez en Italia. Aparte de las condiciones de protección indicadas en el parágrafo precedente, esta ley podrá además ser aplicada a la obras de autores extranjeros, cuando se cumplan los requisitos indicados en los artículos siguientes”, estableciendo el art. 186 que “las convenciones internacionales para las protecciones de las obras intelectuales regirán el campo de aplicación de esta ley a las obras de los autores extranjeros”. El segundo parágrafo de este artículo y el 187 fueron suspendidos por el decreto Nº 82, de pag. 23/946 del Gobierno Italiano, sobre supresión de algunas prescripciones concernientes a la esfera de aplicación de la ley 633, y
Que la Convención Universal sobre derecho de autor aprobada en ser. 6/952 por una Conferencia Intergubernamental reunida en Ginebra bajo los auspicios de la UNESCO con la intervención de nuestro país, fue ratificada por decreto-ley Nº 12.088/57 , publicado en el “Bol. Of.” de octubre 15. Tal ratificación tiene vigencia por la validez otorgada a los actos del gobierno “de facto” por ley posterior del gobierno constitucional.
El art. 3 de la citada Convención establece que todo estado contratante considerará satisfechas las formalidades exigidas según su legislación interna, como condición para la protección de los derechos de los autores “para toda obra protegida de acuerdo con los términos de la presente Convención, publicada por primera vez fuera del territorio de dicho Estado por un autor que no sea nacional del mismo, si, desde la primera publicación de dicha obra, todos sus ejemplares, publicados con autorización del autor o de cualquier otro titular de sus derechos, llevan el símbolo, acompañado del nombre del titular del derecho de autor y de la indicación del año de la primero publicación”. Vale decir que la oposición de ese signo constituye sólo una presunción “prima facie” de reserva de derechos, que permitirá eximir al editor de las formalidades nacionales, mas para que su edición sea protegida deberá acreditar que sus ejemplares fueron “publicados con autorización del autor o de cualquier otro titular de sus derechos”.
La medida de esa protección la establece el art. 2, cuando dice: “Las obras publicadas de loe unción a les de cualquier Estado contratante, así como las obras publicadas por primera vez en oí territorio de tal Estado, gozarán en cada uno de los otros Estados contratantes de la protección que cada uno de estos Estados conceda a las obras de sus nacionales publicadas por primera vez en su propio territorio”. Equipara, pues, este artículo, al extranjero con el nacional en cuanto a protección de su derecho y dado que al editor nacional de una obra publicada por primera vez en nuestro propio territorio se le exigirá —para acreditar la titularidad del derecho de propiedad intelectual— probar debidamente la cesión por parte del autor, o que se encuentra en el caso del art. 4, inc. c, ley 11.723 (“los que con permiso del autor la traducen…), es obvio que igual exigencia cabe hacer al editor extranjero.
En tal sentido, considera, el suscrito que no es suficiente para acreditar la cesión de derechos de traducción por parte de Boris I. Pasternak a Feltrinelli la fotocopia de un contrato privado que se habría celebrado entre las partes y que corre a fs. 92/3. Tampoco lo sería el original de dicha fotocopia, que no haría fe suficiente por tratarse de un instrumento privado cuya autenticidad puedo ser puesta en duda. Ello a despecho de que sea común suscribir en forma privado contratos editoriales o de la imposibilidad de que el cedente ratifique ahora el acto —de haberse este realizado realmente— por la situación política en que se encuentra. Tal situación es, precisamente, la que da caracteres especiales a este caso y dificulta la prueba acerca de la verdad de lo acontecido.
No estando suficientemente acreditada la cesión no corresponde entrar a considerar si el cedente, en caso de haberla realizado, lo habría hecho con derecho de acuerdo con la ley rusa ya trascrita: si las limitaciones que ésta contiene afectan la cesión; y si influye para la solución del caso la circunstancia de que la Convención de Ginebra de 1952 no haya sido ratificada por la U.R.S.S. Tampoco es menester entrar a considerar si está suficientemente probado que la edición de “Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, Milano” de 1957, fue la primera publicación mundial de la obra.
La forma de tutela penal de los derechos intelectuales queda concretada en la ley 11.723 por medio de los arts. 71, 72 y siguientes. La primera norma reprime con la pena establecida en el art. 172 al que “de cualquier manera y en cualquier forma defraude los derechos de propiedad intelectual que reconoce esta ley”. La Cam. Crim. Cap. ha establecido, en fallo publicado en “La Ley”, t. 2, p. 454 , que es condición imprescindible anterior y previa para la aplicación de esa norma, que exista una defraudación en el sentido jurídico de este vocablo, surgiendo ello del texto expreso de la ley y de lo manifestado en oportunidad de su sanción por el miembro informante del proyecto en la Cámara de Diputados de la Nación.
El art. 72, aplicable en este caso, estatuye que “se considerarán casos especiales de defraudación y sufrirán la pena por él establecida, además del secuestro de la edición ilícita; a) El que edite, venda o reproduzca por cualquier medio o instrumento, una obra inédita o publicada sin autorización de su autor o derechohabientes…”. La punibilidad surge de la circunstancia de qué el titular del derecho sobre la obra editada, vendida o reproducida no baya autorizado la edición, la venta o la reproducción.
La misma cámara ha establecido, en fallo publicado en “La Ley”, t. 17, p. 724, que el requisito de que la conducta reputada dolosa reúna los elementos del delito de defraudación es aplicable sólo al art. 71, no al 72, pues los enumerados en éste, a pesar de ser considerados “casos especiales de defraudación”, son susceptibles de ser reprimidos con la pena que establece el art. 71, sin que se requiera otra cosa que la presencia de los elementos integrantes de cada uno de ellos (conf. Gómez. “Leyes penales comentadas”, t. 4, p. 287).
La Convención Universal sobre derecho de autor, aprobada en Ginebra en 1952, es un acuerdo internacional de derecho privado y no puede modificar en modo alguno los elementos del delito de defraudación de derechos intelectuales estatuidos con anterioridad a su sanción por la ley 11.723 pues ésta, como toda la materia penal, es de regulación exclusiva del derecho público interno o local, de acuerdo con principios unánimemente establecido en derecho internacional y cuya violación lesionaría la soberanía del Estado afectado. Siendo ello así, la ratificación de la citada Convención no modifica el régimen de tutela penal del derecho de autor estatuido en la ley 11.723 no obstando para arribar a tal conclusión el carácter de Ley Suprema de que la Convención está investida por el art. 31, Const. Nac., dado que tal carácter le es conferido en la materia que regula, es decir, la tutela en el aspecto del derecho privado de la propiedad privada.”
El delito enunciado en el art. 72, inc. a, ley 11.723, está comprendido entro los que ocasionan lesión patrimonial —sin olvidar por ello la protección del derecho moral del autor sobre su obra—; en consecuencia, es menester que exista, para que se perfeccione, perjuicio identificado.
Encontrándose indeterminada la titularidad del patrimonio afectado por lo que queda expuesto y discutido, por otra parte, el derecho a publicar la obra, en los juicios que corren por cuerda; siendo independientes los procesos civil y criminal; y no afectándose sus resoluciones —art. 77, ley cit. , corresponde arribar a esta causa a una resolución de carácter provisorio.
Es menester dejar claramente establecido que el pronunciamiento a que el suscrito llega en esta causa, en modo alguno significa amparar a editores irresponsables de nuestro medio o hacer ilusoria la protección internacional otorgada a los editores extranjeros por la Convención de Ginebra. Si de autos surgiere con evidencia y suficientemente acreditado que el derecho representado del denunciante deriva de quien realizara la primera publicación de la obra, con autorización fehaciente del autor, no vacilaría en otorgarle toda la protección que la ley argentina otorga al nacional en idéntica situación.
Por ello, conforme a lo precedentemente dictaminado por el agente fiscal y de acuerdo con lo dispuesto en el art. 435, C. Pr. Cr., resuelvo sobreseer provisionalmente en esta causa; déjense sin efectos las órdenes de secuestro decretadas; líbrese en tal sentido oficio a la Policía Federal y exhorto al juez en lo criminal en turno de Mar del Plata. — Jorge Alberto Aguirre (Sec.: Oscar Jorge García Rúa).


Buenos Aires, setiembre 1 de 1959.—
Como lo pone de manifiesto el a quo en la resolución de f. 142, a la que se remite el pronunciamiento recurrido, no se ha acreditado en autos que la edición Feltrinelli de la obra “El Doctor Zhivago”, de Boris Leonidovic Pasternak, se haya publicado con autorización de su autor o de cualquier otro titular de sus derechos como lo exige el art. 3 de la Convención de Ginebra para que la obra sea protegida.
El mencionado artículo solamente exime al editor del cumplimiento de algunas formalidades pero no de acreditar que la edición puesta en circulación es legítima, sea ésta o no la primera, pues también siendo la primera puede ser clandestina y no merece protección alguna.
Por ello y por no haber acreditado el recurrente que sea la persona particularmente ofendida por el delito que denuncia, se confirma la resolución apelada en cuanto fue materia de apelación, con costas.


Acknowledgements. I would like to thank Carlo Feltrinelli was his generous and continued support and for having given me permission to quote from the Feltrinelli archives in Milan.


Unpublished sources:

Fondo Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Milan: Fascicoli Gaisenhayner, Pardo, Tesone.

Archivio Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Carte Pasternak: fascicolo Collins.

Published sources:

Araújo, M., 1958, Para Comprendeer ‘O doutor Jivago’” COPAC, Rio de Janeiro.

Barnes, C., 1998, Boris Pasternak, A literary bibliography, vol. 2. 1928-1960, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Feltrinelli, C., 1999, Senior Service, Feltrinelli Editore, Milano. Translated into English, with a few cuts, as: Senior Service, Granta Books, London, 2001. The American edition, published in 2001 by Harcourt, cuts several additional important parts of the book.

Garcia, Ivan, and San Vicente, Ricard, 2011, Sobre El doctor Jivago i les seves versions, [in Catalan], TRILCAT, 45 pp.

Grandi, A., 2000, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. La dinastia, il rivoluzionario, Baldini&Castoldi, Milano.

Iannello, G., 2009, ‘Zivago tradito’: storia delle traduzioni manomesse del romanzo di Pasternak in Italia, in Parysiewicz Lanzafame, A., ed., Pietro Zveteremich. L’uomo, lo slavista, l’intellettuale. Atti del convegno di studi, Centro di Studi Umanistici, Messina, 2009, pp. 109-116.

Mancosu, P., 2013, Inside the Zhivago Storm. The editorial adventures of Pasternak’s masterpiece, Feltrinelli, Milan.

Mancosu, P., 2015, Smugglers, Rebels, Pirates. Itineraries in the publishing history of Doctor Zhivago, Hoover Press, Stanford.

Pasternak, 1957, Il Dottor Zivago. Romanzo, Feltrinelli, Milan,

Pasternak, 1958a, El Doctor Yivago, translated by Vladimir Koslov and Jorge Diez Cardoso, Ediciones Capricornio, Mexico.

Pasternak, 1958b, El Doctor Jivago, (Galeria Literaria), translated by Fernando Gutiérrez, Noguer, Barcelona-Mexico.

Pasternak, 1958c, El Doctor Yivago, translated by Juan Robledo, Ediciones Indice, Buenos Aires.

Pasternak, 1958d, El Doctor Yivago, El Forjador, Buenos Aires.

Pasternak, 1958e, El Doctor Zhivago, translated by Vicente Oliva, Minerva, Montevideo.

Pasternak, 1958f, El Doctor Zhivago, Editora Quetzal.

Pasternak, 1958g, O doutor Jivago, translated by Oscar Mendes and Milton Amado, Editora ITATIAIA, Belo Horizonte, first edition.

Pasternak, B., 1958h, Doktor Zhivago. Roman, Feltrinelli (-Mouton), [The Hague].

Pasternak, B., 1958i, Le Docteur Jivago, Flammarion, Paris.

Pasternak, B., 1958k, Doctor Zhivago, English translation by Max Hayward and Manya Harari, Collins Press, London.

Pasternak, B., 1958l, Doctor Zhivago, with revisions to the English translation, Pantheon, New York.

Pasternak, 1959a, Doctor Yivago, Ediciones Ciceron, Montevideo.

Pasternak, 1959b, O doutor Jivago, translated by Oscar Mendes and Milton Amado, Editora ITATIAIA, Belo Horizonte, second edition.

Pasternak, 1959c, Autobiografia, translated by Olga Ricart de Weeren, Editorial del Nuevo Extremo, Santiago del Chile, Chile.

Pasternak, B., 1959d, Doktor Zhivago. Roman, Société d’Edition et d’Impression Mondial, Paris.

Pasternak, 1960, O doutor Jivago, translated by Augusto Abelaria with preface by Aquilino Ribeiro, Livraria Bertrand, Lisbon.

Pasternak, 1964, Doktor Zhivago. Roman, Zemlia i Fabrika, Moscow [but in reality, Flegon Press, London].

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

Zendejas, F, 1958, La pasón de Pasternak (premio nobel 1958). Con fragmentos del libro « El Doctor Yivago »/El misterio del caso Pasternak, México: Libro Mex Eds., pp. 147.