Moscow Has Ears Everywhere: Olga Ivinskaya and the loss of Pasternak’s 'will'

Lecture | October 3 | 5-6 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Paolo Mancosu, Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy, UC Berkeley; Harsha Ram, Associate Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

 Institute of European Studies, Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Program for the Study of Italy

The struggle between the Soviet Communist Party and Boris Pasternak over the publication of Doctor Zhivago did not end when he won the Nobel Prize, or even with his death. After the prize the Soviets vilified and impoverished him. After his death, they turned against Olga Ivinskaya, his literary assistant, companion, and the model for Zhivago’s Lara, sending her and her daughter to a labor camp for accepting Pasternak’s royalties from the West.

In this presentation, Paolo Mancosu will explore some dramatic events that took place between the onset of Pasternak's final illness (April 1960) and the arrest of Olga Ivinskaya (August 1960). On April 15, 1960, Pasternak signed a 'will' on behalf of Ivinskaya, leaving her all his royalties in the West from the sales of Doctor Zhivago and the Autobiography. In addition, he put her in charge of all his literary interests in the West. After Pasternak died on May 30, 1960, the 'will' disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Since the time of the events there has been much unbridled speculation about the nature of the 'will' and what had happened to it. Using the Feltrinelli archives in Milan and other Russian archives, Mancosu will reconstruct the events connected to the 'will', what happened to it, and how he managed to unravel the mystery.

Mancosu's presentation - based on his recent book "Moscow has Ears Everywhere. Recent Investigations on Pasternak and Ivinskaya" (Hoover Press, Stanford, 2019) - will be followed by Harsha Ram's concluding remarks.