PASTERNAK, BORIS LEONIDOVICH. 1890-1960.
Typed Manuscript Carbon, "Doktor Zhivago," with some typed corrections, being volume one only of the entire novel, 177 pp, 8vo, Moscow, 1948. Magenta wrappers, bound with raw yarn; preserved in a embossed black paper-covered "Dlya bumag" [For Papers] portfolio. Some wear and tear with loss of the top and bottom of spine.
Provenance: Sergei Spassky.
RARE CARBON COPY OF THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE FIRST VOLUME OF "DOCTOR ZHIVAGO." This early text was written nearly a decade before the book's publication and presented by the author to poet and friend Sergei Spassky. The subtitle present here: Kartiny poluvekobogo obikhoda (Scenes of a Half-Century of Daily Life), was later discarded. Although he had been working on the story off and on since the 1910s, Boris Pasternak (known primarily as a poet) started writing a novel in 1945. On September 9, 1946, Pravda denounced Pasternak as "an author lacking in ideology and remote from Soviet reality." That very evening the author gave a reading from the first part of the novel that perplexed several of his listeners including critic and translator Kornei Chukovsky. Anna Akhmatova too did not care much for it when she attended another reading.
Undaunted, he continued to work on his novel. According to the author's son, Pasternak completed the first draft of the first volume in four parts in June 1948 and went to Peredelkino to proofread it. He instructed his typist Marina Baranovich to prepare a dozen carbon copies of the script. He left one with Akhmatova to take to Leningrad and give to Spassky to read. Pasternak wrote to him on July 12th: "Check if A[nna] A[ndreevna] arrived and brought something, pop in to pick it up and read. Please write to me your impression, if you feel you have to. Give me your honest opinion and don't beat around the bush." He wrote again on July 20: "I did the right thing in sending you a raw, not thoroughly edited copy. A year spent picking and polishing with prudence and deliberation and now I have to rush. There are not many in the world who are able to understand as well as you dowhat [the novel] is about and why." Spassky replied: "Dear Borya, It's been a while since I read your manuscript. I was going to read slowly, but it consumed me right away, and every chance I had I returned to it until I reached the end." Spassky was struck by "the patent, unconcealed energy" within the manuscript; and he admitted to Pasternak, "Quite simply, your entire poetic arsenal is now in play." Pasternak was grateful for his friend's "understanding and kindness and generosity." He then had to put the book aside to get back to his translation of Goethe's Faust. However, a second version of the manuscript was available in October 1948. By 1956 Pasternak felt it was ready for publication. He submitted it to the prominent literary journal Novy mir, but it was rejected for its lack of Social Realism. Friends and family in the West were sent copies; and the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli had one smuggled out of the USSR. He published it in Italian in 1957 and arranged for eighteen other translations. The CIA recognized its "great propaganda value" and circulated the Russian text in the Vatican pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. The book was denounced by the Soviet government and Pasternak was forced to decline the 1958 Nobel Price for Literature. Although Vladimir Nabokov hated Doctor Zhivago, eminent American critic Edmund Wilson declared it simply "one of the great events in man's literary and moral history." It remains one of best known and most popular novels of the 20th Century. See Boris Pasternak: Materialy dlya biografii, Moscow, 1989; and Christopher Barnes, Pasternak: A Literary Biography, Vol. 2, Cambridge, 1998.