Spy Services Helped Publish “Dr. Zhivago”

“Doctor Zhivago,” starring Julie Christie and Omar Sharif, was the most formative movie of my youth, stirring in me at a very young age a love of Russian history and literature. Now we learn that British intelligence played a vital role in smuggling copies of Boris Pasternak’s banned novel “Doctor Zhivago,” upon which David Lean’s movie was based, to Soviet readers, with MI6 secretly passing the Russian manuscript to the CIA. All this according to a new book, “The Zhivago Affair.” Newly declassified CIA documents suggest that in 1957 an unnamed British intelligence officer managed to photograph Pasternak’s original text. Pasternak had entrusted his novel to a handful of foreign contacts the previous summer after it became increasingly clear the Soviet authorities would refuse to publish it.

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