A Question of Fairness

It all comes down to questions of fairness.  On January 27, 2007, a journalist by the name of Peter Finn published in the Washington Post an interview with Ivan Tolstoy, a literary scholar distantly related to the famous writer.  The subject of the interview was Tolstoy’s The Laundered Novel, a product of his ten-year investigation into the circumstances surrounding the publication of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago.  Tolstoy, wrote Finn, had revealed “in a forthcoming book that the CIA secretly arranged for the publication of a limited Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago in 1958 to help Pasternak secure the Nobel Prize in Literature that year.”

Looking under “T” in the index of Peter Finn’s and Petra Couvée’s volume, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book, one finds Leon Trotsky and Palmiro Togliatti, but no sign of Ivan Tolstoy.  His book is duly listed in the Bibliography, of course, as not to have done so would constitute a literary equivalent of criminal negligence, but apart from this (and two citations in the Notes to the volume) it is as though the man—of whom Finn wrote in 2007 that “Tolstoy offers the first detailed account of what would rank as perhaps the crowning episode of a long cultural Cold War”—had never existed.


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