Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002583, Thu, 27 Nov 1997 12:09:00 -0800

Re: Pasternak's "Lara" and KGB (fwd)
From: Gennady Barabtarlo <gragb@showme.missouri.edu>

First of all, the late Ivinskaya makes no secret in her book that it was
she who prevailed upon Pasternak to write that letter to Khrushchov and
who in October and November of 1958 shuttled between a chief of the
Bolshevik Central Committee's department of "ideology and culture"
(technically not a KGB operative, although there was no difference
whatever) and Pasternak. Her memoir is coated with poshluster and is full
of silly claims (in artistic sense, she was NOT Pasternak's "Lara"), but it
is not purposely misleading.

The whole story about Ivinskaya and Pasternak was much more complex than is
usually known -- certainly much too complex for the NYT's clumsy pens. For
example, I know from one of the main participants in the drama that even in
winter of 1959 Pasternak was seriously considering emigration after all,
and the difficulty of dealing with the impasse in his private life (his
wife and his mistress) was a very important obstacle.. Be it as it may,
there is no doubt that Pasternak would have approved of Ivinaskaya's method
to get out of the concentration camp where she was thrown for trying to get
a hold of the money Pasternak had arranged for her to receive from his
royalties abroad. In fact, it would not surprise me if the letter were a
move SUGGESTED by Pasternak who foresaw troubles for his love and her
daughter (also imprisoned) after his death and tried to protect them and
provide for them as best he could. "Vot i umnitsa", he would have said
("clever girl!") -- which, of course, does not make the whole affair less
sad and invidious.

The link to Nabokov seems to me farfetched. That his juvenile love
got married to a GPUshnik was probably only of fleeting interest for him.
Besides marrying, say, a Gestapo officer is not quite the same as
collaborating with the Gestapo -- in fact, there have been quite remarkable
instances of the opposite behaviour.
And since VN certainly felt sympathy with PAsternak's political
predicament in the police state (and said so more than once and more than
lightly) -- and since he certainly was a poriadochnyi chelovek (roughly, a
gentleman),-- he could not possibly welcome the delay in Dr Zhivago's
appearance on the bestseller's list caused by the "KGB-Ivinskaya" efforts,
as the GD's note seems to imply. Why even hint at such a terribly base and
ignoble possibility?

Gennady Barabtarlo
451 GCB University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
573-882-9454 Fax 573-884-8456