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Episode 3

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 09 July 2014

By Peter Finn and Petra Couvée.

It's 1956 and Boris Pasternak presses a manuscript into the hands of an Italian publishing scout with these words, 'This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world.'

Pasternak knew his novel would never be published in the Soviet Union as the authorities regarded it as seditious, so instead he allowed it to be published in translation all over the world - a highly dangerous act.

By 1958 the life of this extraordinary book enters the realms of the spy novel. The CIA, recognising that the Cold War was primarily an ideological battle, published Doctor Zhivago in Russian and smuggled it into the Soviet Union. It was immediately snapped up on the black market. Pasternak was later forced to renounce the Nobel Prize in Literature, igniting worldwide political scandal.

With first access to previously classified CIA files, The Zhivago Affair gives an irresistible portrait of Pasternak, and takes us deep into the Cold War, back to a time when literature had the power to shake the world.

Abridged by Libby Spurrier
Read by Nigel Anthony

Producer: Joanna Green
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.


Nigel Anthony
Joanna Green
Libby Spurrier
Peter Finn
Petra Couvee


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