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“No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history’s organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries.” — Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Борис Пастернаk
Париж, 1959

Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak
Paris: Société d’édition et d’ímpression mondiale, 1959
PG3476 P27 D6 1959b

Just because its not a “first edition” and just because its “only a paperback” doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a great story. We present the following case in point:

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) was a Soviet Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. In Russia, his first book of poems, My Sister, Life, is considered one of the most influential collections published in the Russian language. However, outside of Russia, Pasternak is best known for his 1957 novel, Doctor Zhivago. Critically depicting life between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and WWI, the manuscript was originally smuggled to Milan and published in 1957 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. The novel quickly rose to fame and by 1958 Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although Pasternak was forced to decline the prize by the Soviet government, Doctor Zhivago continued to be mass-produced outside the Soviet Union and throughout the non-Communist world.

In April 2014, the United States Central Intelligence Agency released dozens of declassified documents confirming that it had covertly distributed thousands copies of the original Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago to Soviet tourists in Western Europe and also funded the publication of a miniature, lightweight paperback edition that could be easily mailed or concealed in a jacket pocket. The front cover and the binding identify the book in Russian; the back of the book states that it was printed in France.

~~Contributed by Lyuba Basin and Luise Poulton