Documentary in which Stephen Smith traces the revolutionary beginnings of Dr Zhivago, one of the best-known love stories of the 20th century, written by Boris Pasternak.
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It's one of the greatest love stories of the 20th century.
A tale of passion and fear,
set against a backdrop of revolution and violence.
Julie Christie as Lara.
The violent, sensual, sensitive girl.
Zhivago's great love and mistress.
But our story isn't about Yuri Zhivago and Lara,
it's about their creator,
Boris Pasternak, a man who became a prisoner in his own country.
He willingly committed acts of literary suicide
practically every day.
It may have been the bravest book ever written.
Pasternak faced penury, public denunciation and even death.
He wanted to have his say and he knew that it was dangerous.
-On Stalin's orders,
75% of the supreme War Council are murdered.
Pasternak's love of Russia was always at odds with his
disenchantment with the brutal Soviet regime.
Writing the book under Stalin was dangerous,
attempting to to get it published at the height of the Cold War,
even more so.
I would love to know who the original source was that British intelligence
got the manuscript from before they gave it to the CIA.
The CIA used every opportunity they could to catch on to something
cultural to injure the Russians.
Our story begins before the film won five Oscars
and its author the Nobel Prize.
It's the untold story of the real Doctor Zhivago,
Pasternak's only novel, Doctor Zhivago,
bears witness to one of the greatest moments of the 20th century -
the Russian Revolution -
and was immortalised in David Lean's epic film.
From the most widely acclaimed novel of our generation,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents David Lean's film,
of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.
It was on the streets of Moscow
that Boris Pasternak grew up and he witnessed
the birth throes of the Russian Revolution 100 years ago.
The book was Pasternak's attempt to personalise what he experienced and
witnessed through this momentous time.
An early scene in the film echoes Pasternak's own feelings towards
the beginnings of the Revolution,
as Imperial cavalry charge a peaceful protest march,
all seen through the eyes of Yuri Zhivago.
When I read Doctor Zhivago,
I couldn't help but feel that Yuri is Pasternak's alter ego.
Yuri, too, is a poet,
tormented by his great loves for the women in his life and for
mother Russia, where to this day,
Pasternak is still held in high regard as a writer.
I welcome you on a tour devoted to Boris Pasternak,
it is the place where he lived for many, many years.
This area of Moscow connected with his life very tightly and connected
with Doctor Zhivago and with many of his poems.
I joined a tour tracing Pasternak's early footsteps
in Moscow run by Anna Sergeeva-Klatis,
a Russian Pasternak scholar and lecturer at Moscow State University.
Anna, sorry to interrupt, sorry, everybody.
This is a great turnout, this evening.
What does that say about the popularity and in the interest
-in Pasternak in Russia now?
-Because he's a great writer.
Is that true? Do we all agree?
SHE TRANSLATES TO RUSSIAN
Boris was a Muscovite from his head to his...
He spoke like a Muscovite and he moved like a Muscovite,
he loved Moscow and Moscow reflected in many of his poems.
He left Moscow for very short periods.
He spent all his life in Moscow.
What would you say is interesting about Boris's upbringing?
It was quite bourgeois, middle-class, wasn't it?
His family was an artistic family.
His father was a famous painter
and he was already famous when Boris was born.
And his mother was a very gifted pianist.
They both were very successful,
the atmosphere in the family was really artistic.
He was very gifted person from his childhood.
And he began to draw when he was about 12 years of age.
His father was very satisfied.
He said that he can be a very talented painter.
But he stopped.
He changed his mind.
And he began to play piano and he had very good achievements in that,
but he also stopped that.
And then he went into philosophy
and he went to Germany and he was offered
to continue his education in Germany because, as a Jew,
he had no way to continue his career in Russia.
And he refused because he began to write poetry. He was 22.
That was the beginning.
Having found his true calling,
it was only five years later he saw the start of the Revolution,
an event that changed his life and changed Russia forever.
Excited by the Revolution, Boris never left Russia.
His family were different.
Despite their liberal leanings,
the Pasternak family as a whole took a wary view of the Revolution.
And when they happened to make a journey to Germany in 1923,
they took the opportunity to make the visit permanent
and went into exile. First there, and later in Oxford.
The family home here is full of images of Boris's Russian childhood
and the cultural greats who visited when they lived in Moscow.
This is the garden room.
Being part of the intelligentsia and cultural aristocracy,
the family had many stellar visitors,
painted and drawn by Boris's father.
This one you might recognise, this is Rachmaninov at the piano.
But for Boris, one visitor to their Moscow home
stood out more than any of the others.
Boris remembers as a child being woken by the sound of a piano
being played solo by his mother and
stumbling out into a room that was full of people, including Tolstoy,
who was listening to the concert that she was giving in their house.
This is Tolstoy in his family estate,
reading one of his manuscripts.
For Boris, Tolstoy was a moral example and an artistic example.
Tolstoy was interested in the peasantry,
the common life.
And you can see this in Zhivago,
where Boris is also interested in a language of peasant culture
which he uses.
So there was a strong feeling of compassion for the underclass,
which Boris inherited.
Before the Revolution,
Tolstoy chose to stay in Russia and was a thorn in the side of
Now, for Pasternak,
also feeling compelled to remain in his motherland,
meant that he would be expected to be loyal to the new Soviet regime.
If you want to see the how USSR glorified the Revolution,
you need look no further than here in Moscow's Revolution Square
underground station, where it's only depicted as magnificent and epic.
Despite his privileged upbringing,
Pasternak greeted the Revolution with gusto,
hoping for a fairer society and a better system of government.
And you can see his initial revolutionary fervour
in the pages of his novel.
"The Revolution broke out willy-nilly,
"like a breath that's been held too long.
"Everyone was revived, reborn, changed, transformed.
"You might say that everyone has been through two revolutions,
"his own personal revolution as well as the general one."
The artists who were galvanised by the Revolution soon divided into
two camps. There were those who supported the state
and produced wholesome propaganda like this.
Others, like Pasternak, remained neutral, but in doing so,
he made himself a target.
Trotsky summoned Pasternak to his office and demanded to know what
his poetry meant and why he didn't write about social themes.
And when Yuri's captured in Doctor Zhivago, by the Red Army,
it's clear the scene depicts Pasternak's
and other writer's fears.
-I used to admire your poetry.
-I shouldn't admire it now.
I should find it absurdly personal, don't you agree?
Feelings, insights, affections, it's suddenly trivial now.
You don't agree? You're wrong.
The personal life is dead in Russia.
History has killed it.
If the Russian people were fearful under Lenin in the years after his death,
they were soon subjected to a new set of terrors
when Stalin took control.
-On Stalin's orders,
75% of the Supreme War Council are murdered.
In their places, Stalin installed political commissars who ensured his control.
Writers who were seen as a danger to the state, no matter who they were,
put themselves at risk.
And, like all Russians,
Boris saw Vladimir Mayakovsky as the greatest living writer.
A close friend and associate of Boris Pasternak's,
he was dubbed the poet of the Revolution
and he advocated socialist thought through his verse.
But when Mayakovsky's writing became critical of the regime,
his fate soon changed.
In 1930, Mayakovsky committed suicide
by shooting himself in the heart.
Controversy rages as to why he did it - lost love,
lost faith in the regime, or even that he was murdered.
His funeral was the third biggest in the history of the Soviet Union.
Pasternak was greatly disturbed by this turn of events,
so much so that 25 years later,
he reflected on Mayakovsky's work in Zhivago.
"I've always liked Mayakovsky.
"What an all-devouring poetic energy.
"And his way of saying a thing once and for all, implacably,
"straight from the shoulder.
"And above all, the way he takes a good, bold swing,
"and chucks it all at the face of society.
"And a bit further, somewhere, into outer space."
Mayakovsky's death was only the first of many.
As Stalin's terror convulsed Russia,
many of Pasternak's closest friends would be exiled,
imprisoned or executed.
Like all writers of the time,
Pasternak had to think of his own fate in the face of what was going
on all around him.
The years of Stalin's terror were among the most tortuous
for Pasternak and his countrymen.
In 1932, Stalin's wife killed herself over his infidelity,
shooting herself through the heart.
That struck a profound chord with Pasternak,
who was himself tormented over his own infidelity
in his first marriage.
He wrote a personal letter to Stalin, full of deep condolence,
which is said to have bound the leader to the poet for life
and given the latter a unique protection.
Another incident that challenged Pasternak's loyalty came on a Moscow
street corner when he met one of the most popular and highly regarded
poets of the time.
Osip Mandelstam recited his new verse, Stalin Epigram.
"But around him a crowd of thin-necked henchmen
"And he plays with the services of these half-men,
"Some are whistling, some meowing, some sniffing.
"He's alone booming, poking, and whiffing."
Pasternak knew those lines could be fatal to the pair of them.
So he told Mandelstam, "This never happened,
"you didn't read that to me, I never heard it."
Mandelstam was arrested.
Stalin phoned Pasternak personally,
wanting to know if the prisoner was a good writer or not.
Pasternak avoided the question, whereupon Stalin taunted him,
"Why aren't you standing up for your friend?"
The call only lasted a few minutes,
but it almost certainly sealed Mandelstam's fate.
Stalin was clearly testing Pasternak's loyalty to the regime.
And while he was protected, Mandelstam was not.
So, when arrested again and charged with counterrevolutionary activities,
Mandelstam died in transit to a labour camp.
The official cause of death was "unspecified illness".
Pasternak would never forget what happened to Mandelstam
and his feelings of guilt and complicity
would haunt him for the rest of his life.
I'm leaving Moscow by train to take a trip to the country
to see the next trick Stalin had up his sleeve.
He created a community for writers at Peredelkino,
just 15 miles south-west of Moscow.
Well, we're only a few minutes by train outside Moscow,
but the difference is palpable.
Away from all that smog and stress and pollution,
you were serenaded by birdsong in this sun-dappled wood.
And you have a sense of what this might have meant for Pasternak,
to connect to the Russian countryside,
so important in the literary canon and to the Russian soul.
But the reality of living and writing in Peredelkino,
was described by one of Pasternak's neighbours, Dukovsky,
as "entrapping writers in a cocoon of comforts,
"surrounding them with a network of spies."
Within a year of being here,
Pasternak felt impassioned and strong enough to start writing
Doctor Zhivago, a novel that speaks of his love of Russia
and his hatred of the brutal regime that now ran it.
It's very plain and austere, isn't it?
It's a sort of writer's desk out of a woodcut or a fairy tale.
I mean, partly, that's to ensure no distractions,
but also what it connects with, I think, is a reference
I'm sure I came across in the book, either by Pasternak,
or his alter ego, Zhivago,
saying that what he wants is to connect with the ordinary man and woman.
His book, his great classic, isn't some highfalutin literary puzzle,
but it's the story of Russia for everybody to understand.
Plain speaking from a plain desk.
It wasn't just Doctor Zhivago that Pasternak poured his writing into
from this desk.
He risked keeping in regular correspondence with his exiled
family in Oxford, telling them of the pressures he was under,
being part of the writer's colony in Peredelkino.
These are extracts of letters that Boris wrote to his sisters.
"The absurdities of life here,
"the obstacles they create for writers and artists
"are beyond belief,
"but that's how a revolution has to be."
In his letters to his sisters, as far as he's able,
knowing of course that all his letters were probably
being intercepted and read by the Soviets at that time,
he talks about the incredible struggle to write his truth
about a regime when
of course that was absolutely not the thing to be doing.
I genuinely believe that he, willingly almost,
committed acts of literary suicide, practically every day.
Pasternak carried on writing Doctor Zhivago
in the idyll of Peredelkino,
when suddenly his and Russia's worlds were turned upside down.
The domestic terrors of Stalin's regime abated when history took
an unexpected turn.
Russia entered the Second World War,
joining the fight against Nazi Germany.
Stalin called it the great patriotic war.
Pasternak saw it as a real chance for a new dawn for Russia,
and became a fire warden, defusing the bombs that fell on Moscow.
He even visited the front line to read his poetry to the troops.
But his hopes for a new Russia were short-lived.
The repressions and ethnic cleansing that followed victory meant that
the terrors got even worse.
As Stalin's iron grip tightened,
Pasternak returned to writing Doctor Zhivago in Peredelkino.
He lived there with his second wife, Zinaida,
having divorced his first, Evgeniya.
But a trip to Moscow in search of a publisher lead to a chance encounter
that changed his life forever
and gave his novel and David Lean's film
a memorable love affair at its centre.
It made Yuri Zhivago a romantic hero.
This scene is a direct reference to Pasternak's visit to the offices of
the state literary magazine, Novy Mir.
It was there he met Olga Ivinskaya, who was working for the magazine.
Her boss introduced him to her as "your biggest fan".
Returning home that evening,
Olga told her mother that she'd been "speaking with God".
The next day, Pasternak sent her his full set of works and
their relationship began.
Boris was the most impassioned of men.
What I most love about him is that you feel his extreme strain of
emotionalism, through everything that he did,
and he did not take anything lightly.
I feel that he did have a certain moral weakness and that played
out in his relationships.
Olga had a daughter from a previous relationship
and she remembered those early days of Boris and her mother
What sort of man do you think Boris Pasternak was?
Irena's mother, Olga,
soon became Pasternak's mistress and his muse for Doctor Zhivago.
Their relationship would open him to further pressure and danger as he
continued writing the book with Olga in his life.
There is absolutely no doubt that Olga became the prototype for Lara
in Doctor Zhivago.
Lara originally was based on his second wife, Zinaida Neigauz,
but the minute that he meant Olga,
his Lara softened and flowered to embody Olga Ivinskaya.
David Lean's interpretation of this love affair was a big selling point
for the film.
Wouldn't it have been lovely if we'd met before?
Before we did?
We'd have got married, had a house and children.
If we'd had children, Yuri,
would you have liked a boy or a girl?
I think we may go mad if we think about all that.
I shall always think about it.
Inspired by his new love,
Pasternak threw himself into what would be
his great epic of the Russian Revolution and civil war.
He poured all his anguish and his deepest reflections into its pages.
When his character Yuri talks about writing,
well, it could almost be the voice of Pasternak himself.
"Ever since his school days, he dreamed of writing a book in prose.
"A book of impressions of life, in which he would conceal,
"like buried sticks of dynamite,
"the most striking things he had so far seen and thought about."
There have been writers who have said that Zhivago is less a novel
than an autobiography of a poet.
It was his political beliefs that he channelled through the character of
In David Lean's film adaptation,
the scene between Yuri and his half-brother,
played by Alec Guinness, shows Pasternak's political intentions.
You lay life on a table and you cut out all the tumours of injustice.
'I told him, if he felt like that, he should join the party.'
Ah, cutting out the tumours of injustice, that's a deep operation.
Someone must keep life alive while you do it.
By living. Isn't that right?
'I thought then it was wrong.
'He told me what he thought about the party and I trembled for him.
'He approved of us, but for reasons which were subtle, like his verse.'
As he carried on writing Zhivago,
the threats towards Pasternak soon became more direct and personal.
Pasternak's fear and sense of isolation grew deeper.
25,000 copies of his poems were pulped by the state publisher
and the leading literary magazine, Novy Mir, rejected his verse.
As Pasternak noted drily,
"public appearances by me are considered undesirable."
the secret police went to see Stalin to say they were going to arrest
Pasternak. Imagine their surprise when the Great Leader began
reciting Pasternak's verse.
"Heavenly colour, colour blue," he said.
And Stalin told his goons, "Leave him, he's a cloud dweller."
He didn't know that he had this kind of golden protection on high from
Stalin, and yet he risked his literary life daily
writing his truth about a regime which appalled him.
Pasternak's faith in his work was unshakeable.
He began having readings of it at his dacha and here in Moscow.
This was an extraordinary act of bravery, or perhaps recklessness,
on his part. After all, at the time,
copies of his poems were being pulped,
orders for his arrest were circulating,
and yet here he was risking the very act of defiance
which had cost his friend Mandelstam his life.
Pasternak must have known that informers would be eavesdropping on
these readings. Retribution, when it came, was excruciating.
The authorities left Pasternak himself alone.
Instead, they arrested his new love, Olga Ivinskaya.
In 1949, Olga was incarcerated in the notorious Lubyanka prison
in central Moscow.
She was put in solitary confinement
and she was interrogated nightly over the book
that her lover was writing.
She was subjected to appalling sleep deprivation with blinding lights in
her face, and I think that the authorities thought that, probably,
she would crack very quickly and reveal all.
Not once does she ever betray the man she loved.
She did discover that she was pregnant
while she was in the Lubyanka.
And one day she was told she was going to be allowed a meeting with Boris,
so she was absolutely thrilled and put on her favourite crepe de chine
polka-dot dress, which, bizarrely, her mother had managed to smuggle
into the Lubyanka for her.
And in fact she was driven in a blacked-out car across Moscow
and taken to another government building where, six months pregnant, she was marched
up and down flights of stairs and, eventually,
taken down to the basement where she smelt this very strange smell
and these doors open, and she was pushed into the Moscow morgue,
where there were the bodies on zinc top tables, under tarpaulin.
And, of course, because she'd had no contact with Boris,
she assumed that he was dead and that those were one of those bodies
and she was left for many hours in the morgue in her silk dress and,
of course, the next day she miscarried.
Unaware of any of this,
Pasternak himself was summoned to the Lubyanka,
expecting to collect his newborn child.
Instead, he was palmed off with some old letters and gifts
that he'd given to Olga.
It would be months before he learned the grisly truth.
Pasternak was distraught.
He told a friend, "Everything is finished now.
"They've taken her away from me and I'll never see her again.
"It's like death.
She was sentenced to four years hard labour.
Pasternak evoked his sense of desolation in Doctor Zhivago
when Lara disappears, which David Lean used
as one of the closing scenes to his epic
interpretation of the novel.
One day, she went away and didn't come back.
She died, or vanished somewhere.
In one of the labour camps.
A nameless number on a list that was afterwards mislaid.
That was quite common in those days.
Despite these traumas, Pasternak kept writing.
If the Soviet tactic was to pressure him to stop, it wasn't working.
And then, in 1953,
Stalin's death heralded a new era of hope and redemption for Pasternak.
Olga was released after four years
and they rekindled their love affair.
Towards the end of the writing of the novel,
Olga was typing up the manuscript every afternoon
and it was she who was literally taking bound copies
of the manuscript around to publishers.
She acted like an editor, a literary agent, she was his stalwart,
she watched his back.
She absolutely held this man energetically with this love and belief and support.
And I think we owe her everything.
In 1954, after 20 years work,
Pasternak finished writing Doctor Zhivago in Peredelkino.
He was ecstatic.
He wrote, "You cannot imagine what I have achieved.
"I have found and given names to the sorcery that has been the cause of
"suffering, bafflement, amazement and dispute for several decades.
"Everything is named, in simple, transparent and sad words.
"I also renewed and redefined the dearest and most important things.
"Land and sky, great passion, creative spirit, life and death."
If Boris's feelings about mother Russia were clear,
so to were his enduring feelings towards the Soviet regime
in the pages of Doctor Zhivago.
"I don't know of any teaching more self-centred and further from the
"facts than Marxism.
"Ordinarily, people are anxious to test their theories in practice,
"to learn from experience.
"But those who wield power are so anxious to establish the myth of
"their own infallibility that they turned their backs
"on truth as squarely as they can.
"Politics mean nothing to me.
"I don't like people who are indifferent to the truth."
Despite such bold passages,
Pasternak was still confident his book would be published
and he submitted it to the state publisher, Novy Mir.
Advertisements even appeared
forecasting the imminent arrival of the book.
But then the Soviets moved the goalposts.
In September 1956, Novy Mir turned the book down
on ideological grounds.
Pasternak was torn between his desire to see his book published
and his fear over the possible repercussions.
He now realised that if Doctor Zhivago
was ever to see the light of day,
he would have to look beyond Russia for a publisher.
The Soviet loss of the book was about to become a wonderful
opportunity for the West.
As luck would have it,
an Italian publishing house with links to the Communist Party
had a man in Moscow at the time
and he got wind of Doctor Zhivago and liked the sound of it.
That man would go on to be one of the most important go-betweens in
He's still alive, 95 now,
and lives in a village north of Rome.
SPOKEN IN ENGLISH:
What happened next?
In 1957, Sergio D'Angelo smuggled the Zhivago manuscript
out of Russia through Berlin,
where he passed it to his employer, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
The Feltrinelli Foundation in Milan is now run by his son, Carlo.
Why was your father so committed to Zhivago and to Pasternak himself?
How did your father communicate with Pasternak
during this whole process?
And this code paid off.
When the Russians forced Pasternak to send a telegram to Feltrinelli,
asking for the manuscript to be returned for corrections to be made,
it was in Russian.
So Feltrinelli knew it had been sent under duress.
The Soviet regime then blocked the publication of Doctor Zhivago
in Russia, putting more pressure on Pasternak.
Even with his arrangement with Feltrinelli in place,
he didn't stop there.
Either through determination or desperation,
Pasternak gave out four other copies to contacts he trusted to take to
countries with a strong literary tradition.
I'm here in Paris to discover how one of those typescripts
was smuggled into France.
Jacqueline de Proyart was studying Russian at Moscow State University
in 1956, and her fellow students said there was
someone she had to meet.
And they said, you know, if you are in Russia here
and you don't go and see Pasternak,
you will have been here for nothing.
I was amazed because I knew Pasternak,
but like a name across a blackboard.
You saw the book before you met Pasternak.
I opened it, I read it, the language is wonderful,
because it's a poetic one.
Very well-balanced. Pleasant to hear.
I mean, it's very musical.
So the literary value of this novel was...
Pasternak trusted her and gave her a set of typescripts to smuggle back to France.
These typescripts didn't carry Pasternak's name, for fear of them
being found in transit out of Russia.
The only name printed in the front matter was Doctor Zhivago.
Is this the one you took to the French embassy?
-Yes, yes, of course...
I had it in my suitcase.
And I put it in a certain way in my suitcase.
When I came back,
I opened my suitcase and the book was not at all in the same place.
No, so somebody had opened your suitcase.
Yes. Of course.
But they didn't remove it. They saw it...
They saw it, maybe they opened it, they saw no name
and nobody knew Doctor Zhivago at that time.
It was quite a scary proposition,
it was a big responsibility, to do that.
Well, I think when we are 29, you have still punch.
It's not like putting a microchip in a handkerchief, is it?
You've really got to...
You've really got to hide that.
-And I love the fact that these are sort of careless tea stains
on the cover of this great historical document.
Meanwhile, in Oxford,
the exiled Pasternak family was also involved in the intrigue of bringing
Boris's masterpiece to print.
When I was about 13, my mother
asked me to go with her on a little bus journey
up to the northern part of Oxford
to the household of a Russian academic, because she had to pick up a parcel.
I had the feeling this is an important occasion.
There's something going on.
Why did she need me with her?
We came to this small academic's house
and I was left in a room and my mother went into another room
and came back with a brown paper parcel.
And the brown paper parcel
was the second volume of the two-volume typescript
of Doctor Zhivago.
And what was the plan?
What was your mother meant to do?
Boris wanted her and his sister to read it
and it was guarded ferociously by them.
There was a controversy on whether it would be dangerous
for Boris to have it published or not.
And it clearly was dangerous for Boris,
but on the other hand, Boris had
put the last 20 years of his life working on it,
and he wanted to have his say,
and he knew that it was dangerous.
Despite the best efforts of the Kremlin and
the Italian Communist party to get the typescript back
from Feltrinelli in Milan to censor,
Feltrinelli got the book published first, in November 1957,
giving him the global copyright.
So great was the demand for Doctor Zhivago
that he licensed rights in 18 different languages
in advance of the novel's publication.
No Russian writer had gone round the state control of
published works before, and this especially infuriated the new
Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev.
As if Pasternak's life was not complicated and perilous
enough, he was about to become a pawn in a much bigger
and more dangerous political game,
as anything that annoyed the Soviet Union was a godsend
for their biggest Cold War enemy.
The book came to the attention of the CIA,
who wanted to make sure copies got into the hands of ordinary Russians.
I'm here to meet Peter Finn,
who is now the national security editor for the Washington Post.
In 2014, he co-wrote a book documenting the CIA's involvement
in turning Pasternak's novel against the Soviet state.
How did you get involved in the story of Pasternak
and the writing of this great book?
I was a correspondent in Moscow for the paper between 2004 and 2008.
And at that time I started to read about Pasternak
in various biographies
and I saw that the evidence on the CIA and its role
was elusive but persistent.
I also realised that if I'm going to bring anything to this story
that's fresh or original, I would have to do get the CIA documents.
So, that was a long process, that took probably three years
from when I first approached the agency to when I got them.
What are the documents or paragraphs that particularly catch your eye
from your tranche here?
This one I like because this is the beginning of it all.
So, this is a document dated January 2nd, 1958,
and you can see the outline of the whole operation here.
They talk in the second paragraph, and it's redacted, but essentially
"British intelligence are in favour of exploiting Pasternak's book.
"and have offered to provide whatever assistance they can.
"They have suggested the possibility of getting copies into the hands of
"travellers going to the Iron Curtain area."
So, it's essentially telling headquarters,
"we are including two rolls of film, this is the book, Doctor Zhivago."
This is very spy craft, isn't it?
Somebody has stood over the book and taken pictures of every page presumably.
Yes, correct. And then used to typeset their own edition.
So, for them, this was a propaganda operation.
They viewed culture as a form of propaganda
that they could use against the Soviet state.
These were not...
They may have had very fine literary tastes,
but they weren't doing this for literary or philanthropic reasons.
They were doing this for political reasons.
Now that the CIA had a manuscript of the novel,
the race was on to weaponise it,
to turn it into a kind of cosh to beat the Soviets with.
But they needed to conceal their part in the subterfuge and find
a European publisher to print copies in Russian.
And as for what happened next in the story, well,
that brings me as far as you can imagine from the steppes of Russia
to the bosky countryside of Hampshire
and somebody who was there at the time.
My husband worked for the Dutch security service, the DBB.
And they set up an operation,
although it was initiated by the CIA.
They found this printer in the Hague and my husband,
he said to them, "I've got to go and collect some books."
And he collected these books from the publisher
and took them out to the CIA officer's house in Wassenaar.
Are we talking about dozens or hundreds?
Well, they printed 1,000 altogether.
And they took something like 395 to the World Exhibition
that was being held that year in Brussels.
And they took them to the Vatican pavilion
and the Vatican, when Soviet visitors came,
had a rather cunning arrangement
because they had a little sort of chapel at the back of the pavilion,
so they would take their Soviet visitors there
and hand out a book.
It had a hardback cover in blue
and it was wrapped in plain brown paper.
Of course, these people who were going back to the Soviet Union,
you couldn't just take a hardback book, so they removed the cover,
divided the book into sections,
and stuffed them in pockets or their trousers or whatever.
This is the original copy that my husband brought back,
and he wrote on it, "Saturday 6th of September, 1958."
I'm sure you read fluent Russian.
Do you think, when we look back at the Cold War and how it all ended,
how significant was this episode?
I think it did actually help sway opinion.
It was very different to military operations
because if you can sway people's way of thinking,
in the long run that can be very effective.
Was there much discussion,
much thought about where this would leave Pasternak
when his novel started turning up in Russia in a Russian edition?
I don't think that they had worried too much about that.
They were too keen on embarrassing the Russians.
Boris, marooned in Peredelkino,
was oblivious to the way his book was being used as a cultural
weapon against the Soviet Union, but on the 23rd of October 1958,
a very important announcement was made,
shattering the relative calm in the household.
It proved to be yet another major embarrassment for the Russian state.
Imagine the elation bursting into this quiet rural retreat
the day the telegram arrived in 1958
telling the isolated, frustrated author
that he had won the Nobel Prize.
And here he is sharing that moment of triumph.
But that sense of triumph was short-lived when Pasternak found
himself confronting an exquisite and somehow rather Russian dilemma.
Of course, he was free to go and collect the Nobel Prize if he wished,
but if he did so, the authorities left him under no doubt
that he would not be welcome again in his mother country.
Word of Pasternak's award soon got around and he came out onto
his steps to meet a horde of journalists.
He told them, "to receive this prize fills me with great joy and also
"gives me moral support, but my joy is a lonely joy."
Perhaps he was referring to the many people in his own country who
couldn't share in such happiness.
Closer to home,
Pasternak's nearest and dearest also had grave misgivings and
his neighbour Fedin, another writer, called on Pasternak,
not to offer his congratulations,
but to tell him on no account should he accept the award.
But as the West was giving Pasternak praises and prizes,
Russia reacted in a very different way.
That same year, he was expelled from the powerful Union of Writers,
then publicly denounced and instructed to leave the Soviet Union
in front of Khrushchev.
This added to the pressures on Pasternak, and again
the regime turned to his lover Olga to reinforce that.
Olga was summoned to a meeting in Moscow and left it fearful that
she and Boris were about to be expelled.
On the street she bumped into a plausible seeming fellow,
probably KGB, who gave her a cock-and-bull story
about loving the poet's work.
All Pasternak had to do to be safe, he said,
was to write to Khrushchev assuring him of his allegiance to the USSR.
A letter was sent, but its wording went on to become
a contentious issue in the Pasternak family.
I've come back to Moscow to meet Boris's daughter-in-law, Yelena,
who is very clear about the particular point
Pasternak wanted to make.
Even given his perilous situation,
Pasternak was still willing to risk riling the Soviet regime,
by making a clear and personal distinction
between the Soviet Union he despised, and the Russia he loved.
Isolated in Peredelkino, Pasternak was reduced to poverty,
not being allowed to accept the Nobel Prize money,
or the considerable royalties from the novel's international sales.
But soon money worries became overshadowed
when Boris was diagnosed with lung cancer.
And just three years after the global success of his novel,
he died here in Peredelkino on the 30th of May, 1960.
The Russian Literary Gazette carried only the smallest of notices of his death.
If the Russian authorities wanted Pasternak's death to pass unnoticed,
the Russian people had very different ideas.
Unnoticed by the security guards,
handwritten messages for travellers appeared at the ticket desk here
at Kiyevskaya station.
They said, "At three o'clock on the afternoon of Thursday 2nd of June,
"the last leave-taking of Boris Pasternak,
"the greatest poet of modern Russia, will take place."
These little samizdat, or underground funeral announcements,
led to thousands of mourners travelling out from Moscow to Peredelkino,
to attend Pasternak's last rites,
in defiance of strict Soviet laws on mass gatherings.
The similarities between Pasternak's own funeral and Yuri's in
David Lean's epic are striking and poignant.
I was astonished at the extent of his reputation.
His work was unattainable at the time,
and was disapproved of by the party.
But if people loved poetry, they loved poets,
and nobody loves poetry like a Russian.
The enmity of the Russian state towards Pasternak continued,
and shortly after the funeral,
Olga and Irina were sent to a labour camp for allegedly receiving
royalties from the West.
It was not until 1988, 30 years after he finished the book,
that it was finally published in Russia in its original form,
and caused an instant sensation.
I love the image of the Moscow Metro in 1988,
and absolutely everybody sitting with their copies of Doctor Zhivago.
You know, a bit like when Harry Potter comes out, and everybody...
-Or Lady Chatterley.
-Yes, or Lady Chatterley.
And there were queues snaking round the streets
from book shops of people waiting,
spending their hard-earned roubles to get a copy.
So, I think it was definitely worth the wait.
Judging by the response I have to meeting Russians around the world,
and in Russia, when they discover I am a Pasternak,
it was definitely worth the wait.
The following year,
Pasternak's eldest son, Yevgeni, was allowed to travel to Stockholm
and collect the Nobel Prize on behalf of his father.
I feel this is an historic moment.
When you look at it now,
do you think it was worth all the pain and suffering that he and other
people around him went through?
What struck me throughout has been the extraordinary determination of
Boris Pasternak to abide in Russia, his homeland,
and to live life on his own terms.
He somehow contrived to find hope and promise
amidst incredible setbacks and intolerable pressure.
And that is what makes the epilogue of his book so compelling,
when the friends of Yuri Zhivago are gathered together,
watching the sunset, with a copy of his book in their hands.
"They felt a peaceful joy for this holy city, and for the whole land,
"and for the survivors among those who played a part in this story and
"for their children. And the silent music of happiness filled them
"and enveloped them and spread far and wide.
"And it seemed that the book in their hands knew what they were
"feeling, and gave them its support and confirmation."
Dr Zhivago is one of the best-known love stories of the 20th century, but the setting of the book also made it famous. It is a tale of passion and fear, set against a backdrop of revolution and violence. The film is what most people remember, but the story of the writing of the book has more twists, intrigue and bravery than many a Hollywood blockbuster.
In this documentary, Stephen Smith traces the revolutionary beginnings of this bestseller, to it becoming a pawn of the CIA at the height of the Cold War. The writer of the novel, Boris Pasternak, in the words of his family, willingly committed acts of literary suicide in being true to the Russia he loved, but being honest about the Soviet regime he hated and despised. Under Stalin, writers and artists just disappeared if they didn't support the party line. Many were murdered.
Writing his book for over 20 tumultuous years, Boris Pasternak knew it could result in his death. It did result in his mistress being sent to the Gulag twice, but he had to have his say. This is the story of the writing of perhaps the bravest book ever published. It is the story before the film won Oscars and its author the Nobel Prize, it is the untold story of the real Dr Zhivago - Boris Pasternak.