The CIA-Sponsored Edition of "Zhivago"

Doktor Zhivago: roman [Doctor Zhivago: a novel], in two volumes.

Paris [e.g. Washington, DC]: Societe d'Edition et d'Impression Mondiale, 1959. 12mos (15 × 9 cm). Original printed wrappers on light yellow stock; 634 pp. (continuous pagination). Both volumes in fine condition.

The third edition of Pasternak's novel (after the appearance of the Michigan and Milan editions), reportedly financed by the CIA and published by Boris Filippov under a fictitious imprint in early May 1959. In their recent book on the complicated publishing history of the novel, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Books, Peter Finn and Petra Couvée write: “The CIA attempted to create the illusion that this edition of the novel was published in Paris by ascribing publication to a fictitious entity that was called the Societe d'Edition et d'Impression Mondiale. Some of these copies were subsequently distributed by the NTS (National Alliance of Russian Solidarists) the militant Russian émigré group in Germany, another measure to hide the CIA’s involvement, although the agency’s released records don’t mention the organization.”

Printed both as a single volume and a two-volume set, this edition is a reduced-size reproduction of the Mouton version and includes a new anonymous preface (by Boris Filippov, 1905–1991, an important editor, publisher, and professor of the second wave of the emigration). Reportedly, Filippov claimed that his preface was so significantly "mangled" by the CIA that he did not wish his name to be associated with the publication. Filippov himself is entangled in bizarre Cold War narratives. On the one hand, reports surfaced that he collaborated with German occupants during WWII, writing pro-German articles under the name Filistinsky, a story some view as a KGB fabrication. Others continue to suspect that he was, in fact, an informant of the KGB hiding beneath the facade of an anti-communist immigrant. Printed at the CIA Press in Washington, the book was published in a small format and on very thin paper to make for easy smuggling into the Soviet Union. According to CIA records cited by Finn and Couvée, the book was given to agents in contact with Soviet tourists and officials active in the West, as well as Soviet students and athletes abroad. It was this edition that was responsible for the novel's fame in the USSR in the 1960s. While the print run was at least 10.000 copies, the edition is now scarce in the market. A copy of the book is held by the CIA Museum at Langley, Virginia.

Book ID: 51897