In the High Peaks

Friday, June 20, 2014

In My Mailbox: The Zhivago Affair

Since my birthday early in June, I haven't stopped indulging myself by buying books. It has to stop, of course, but there have been a number of titles that I have refused to wait for at the library. Sometimes these moods strike me and my bank account.

Recently published and in my mailbox today: The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee (Pantheon). When I read the review in BookPage, I knew I had to order the book immediately. You see, Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak has been a big part of my life since age 14. It just so happens that the David Lean film was my first introduction to Dr. Zhivago (and it is still my favorite film after all these years). I first saw it in March 1967 with my older brother, and I was astounded, awed, shocked, and swept away. A love affair with Russian literature and history ensued. I turned 15 that June and read Dr. Zhivago the novel while sunning myself at the beach every afternoon for many weeks that summer. I was determined to read every word. I loved it, though I haven't read it since. I'd like to, especially the new translation that was published two years ago.

There is another connection I have to the smuggling of the Dr. Zhivago manuscript out of Russia in 1956. I'm afraid that due to the late hour and empty stomachs, I must save this rare tidbit for another post. In any case, I'm so psyched that Finn and Couvee have written this book.


  1. Well, you have me intrigued. I bet the non-fiction story of Zhivago is a good one. I also saw the movie when I was very young. I do't recall what I thought of the story, but I loved the visuals. It's a beautiful movie.

    1. James,
      I heartily recommend seeing the film as an adult. Such command performances: Julie Christie, Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger, and Billy woops? the great English actor. The cinematography is exquisite. The movie was filmed in Spain and in Finland. Extremely worthwhile to spend three hours on a blistering hot summer day that keeps you indoors.
      As for the tidbit to come, if only I could get the final week of my summer course out of the way! The students have been wonderful, but they're now giving me fits. Way of the world, or the classroom that is. My summer vacation starts on June 26. How about you?