The inanities of the Cold War: Doctor Zhivago

More than 100 newly declassified documents in the US have revealed how the CIA printed Russian-language copies of Boris Pasternak’s classic novel Doctor Zhivago during the cold war in an attempt to sow unrest among Soviet citizens.

So reports The Guardian, as some of the more inane dimensions of the Cold War slowly come to light. The story goes on:

John Maury, head of the Soviet-Russia division, in July 1958, states that “Pasternak’s humanistic message – that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state – poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the Communist system”.

The problem is that the novel is pretty bad, boring even, as the pretentious Pasternak was

trying to position himself as the inheritor to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. He was trying to write the great Russian novel, and the question of whether or not he succeeded is still very heavily contested. Many would argue it’s actually a very boring novel – lots of people don’t get to the end.

(ht cp)


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