28 November 2018
PASTERNAK, Boris Leonidovich (1890-1960). Doktor Zhivago. Milan [The Hague]: Feltrinelli [Mouton], 1958.
The rare CIA-sponsored first edition in Russian. The Library of Congress Copy. RBH and ABPC record only one copy having been offered at auction. Declassified documents revealed that the CIA sought to embarrass the Soviet government by facilitating the publication of this edition and by distributing copies to Russian visitors via the Vatican Pavilion of the 1958 World Fair in Brussels (see: Finn & Couvee). Feltrinelli had spirited the manuscript out of Russia and published the first edition in an Italian translation in 1957. He began discussing a Russian edition with Mouton, but before negotiations were completed Mouton proceeded to print 1000 copies for the CIA's sole use. 365 of these were sent to the Vatican Pavilion, 200 were sent to the CIA in Washington, and the remainder was distributed among CIA offices in Europe. According to Finn & Couvee, many of the Brussels copies were damaged: 'the book's blue linen covers were found littering the fairgrounds. Some who got the novel were ripping off the covers, dividing the pages, and stuffing them in their pockets to make the book easier to hide' (p.142). A small proportion of the edition, about 100 copies, does not credit Feltrinelli on the title. Finn & Couvee, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book (New York: 2014).
Octavo (220 x 141mm). (Margins faintly yellowed.) Original blue cloth, spine lettered in gilt (some staining, mainly on the back cover). Provenance: The Library of Congress (deaccession stamp).
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