In response to Paul Kingsnorth’s piece on climate change, I’d like to make three points (LRB, 23 October). First, China, India and other newly industrialising countries (NICs) don’t dispute the threat of global warming but they have concluded that the benefits of economic growth far outweigh it. As they don’t accept any of the catastrophe scenarios, this isn’t an irrational position, but rather the conclusion cost-benefit analysis has led them to. Even if one disagrees with them, or even if their position were irrational, what would it matter? China’s emissions alone make global emission reductions impossible.
There is nothing in the 1992 Framework Convention to alter the will of the NICs to put growth before emissions. It isn’t, despite what Kingsnorth says, that the Convention isn’t binding. It is. But far from containing an agreement on global emissions reduction, it gives explicit permission to developing countries, including China, India and other NICs, to prioritise growth. These countries would never have signed the Convention otherwise. All subsequent climate change negotiations have been predicated on this, which is why they have gone nowhere and why no agreement of any value will be reached in Paris in 2015. China and India have been utterly consistent in their diplomatic stance, the last display of this being their refusal to send their heads of government to the UN’s Climate Summit in New York on 23 September, despite the strongest requests having been made to them to do so. Narendra Modi of India was actually in New York on the day of the summit, but had other business.
The choice for those who acknowledge the threat of global warming is not between mitigation (prevention is no longer thought possible) or doing nothing. It is between mitigation or adaptation. The Stern Review concluded that mitigation was by far the cheaper course of action, but it did so with very little thought being given to the question of whether the institutions necessary for mitigation could be created. Naomi Klein’s fantasies of world government notwithstanding, the position of China, India and other NICs has always meant that such institutions can’t be created, making mitigation impossible.
The trillions which the developed countries have spent and plan to spend on mitigation have been and will be wasted, as there have been no global emissions reductions and there never will be. The failure of the collective brain of environmentalism to look this in the face will erode the goodwill which is its principal resource when its role in causing the immense waste becomes indisputable. This will be another very regrettable result of international climate change policy.
Bishop Auckland, Durham
I live a few dozen nautical miles from Little Galloo Island, mentioned by Jonathan Rosen as the site of what Linda Wires calls an ‘act of terrorism’ against cormorants (LRB, 9 October). Rosen’s article may inadvertently suggest there is some doubt about the denuding of islands by these birds in the last several decades. It is sadly all too easily observed that in eastern Lake Ontario all islands below a certain size (at less than an acre, presumably too small to support a population of predators?) have had their trees and bushes killed by cormorants, whose antics also ensure that no regrowth occurs. Cormorant flock sizes have shrunk back noticeably since a peak some ten years ago, but fish numbers even in shallow bays remain tiny. Snorkelling around here, I almost never see any fish other than a few bass and plenty of gobies, who are busy eating zebra mussels. These last two species are recent invasives, arriving hereabouts only some twenty and thirty years ago respectively (from the Black Sea via ship ballast water discharges into the Great Lakes/St Lawrence River drainage system). The mussels thrived immediately and denied nutrients to the algae that dominated the water during my youth. Suddenly the waters were as clear in high summer as they only ever used to be in winter. Now, when we go boating, we are frequently alarmed by reefs we used not to be able to see at all. Clearly these waters have been afflicted by many and various human-caused environmental abuses for at least two centuries and it would be ridiculous to blame the cormorants for any of these. But the fact remains that they are not good community members at this stage in the story. We used to picnic in the shade of grand elms on the nearby Brother Islands. Now we can only visit these places in the dead of winter: in the summer the smell is indescribable. If Wires thinks cormorants have rights, why not trees too?
Terry Eagleton has mixed up his King Charleses (LRB, 23 October). It was Charles, Prince of Wales (and not Charles I) with whom John Wilmot’s father fled the battle of Worcester in 1651 to exile in Paris. And it was there, after the old king’s execution in 1649, that Charles II made Henry Wilmot the first earl of Rochester.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Mark Mazower approvingly ascribes to Tim Butcher and Vladimir Dedijer the notion that Serbian assistance to the Sarajevo assassins was ‘relatively modest’, and ‘against the wishes of the government’ (LRB, 23 October). This formulation is misleading. What was ‘modest’ was the ability of Pasic, the Serbian prime minister, to control the extreme nationalists in Narodna Odbrana (‘national defence’) and its shadowy operational arm, the Black Hand: both founded by the men who had organised the assassination of the Serbian king and queen in 1903 (in anticipation of which Pasic had sensibly taken his family off to the Adriatic the day before).
The queen, formerly Draga Masin, was unpopular not because she had once been a lady-in-waiting to the king’s mother, but because, as Christopher Clark puts it in The Sleepwalkers, she ‘was well known for her allegedly numerous sexual liaisons’ (he describes her as ‘the disreputable widow of an obscure engineer’). The interior minister protested at the king’s idea of marrying her, arguing: ‘Sire, you cannot marry her – she has been everybody’s mistress – including mine.’ The king slapped the minister’s face; when he announced his actual engagement to Draga, the entire cabinet resigned.
As for the ‘modest’ help to the assassins, the three main conspirators – all Bosnian Serbs – were recruited in Belgrade by Narodna Odbrana. Princip’s first planned mission had been in 1912, targeting Turkey, not Bosnia. A Serb army major, Tankositch, and the Black Hand’s founder, Apis, to whom he reported, chose the Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the next target, and Tankositch supervised the training, arming and illegal transporting across the border of the assassins by Serb officers and officials. The trio were supplied with four revolvers and six bombs from the Serbian State Arsenal. They were then supported by Narodna Odbrana agents in Sarajevo for the month before the archduke’s visit.
Pasic learned of the conspiracy, and wrote to his war minister, Stepanovic, four days before the 28 June attack, warning that the actions of ‘officers’ allowing weapons and agents to be smuggled across the border into Bosnia was treasonable, ‘because it aims at the creation of conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary’. Indeed, if friends of Serbia knew the truth, he warned, they would support Austria-Hungary should it decide ‘to punish her restless and disloyal neighbour, who prepares revolts and assassinations on her territory’. When Stepanovic in turn wrote to the chief of the general staff asking for an explanation, the matter was referred to the head of military intelligence – who happened to be Apis.
Somewhat half-heartedly, Pasic tried to warn the Austrians, but was too much at risk of being deposed by the Black Hand to be explicit. It was not the Serbian government that tolerated the plot – as Mazower says, it certainly did not – but the Serbian political system, which had allowed so much sway to the extreme Serb nationalists who nurtured, equipped and managed the assassins. To suggest that Princip had a personal, Bosnian, agenda which transcended this state of affairs is naive. To say of the trio that they were ‘nobody’s pawns’, when the entire enterprise had been dreamed up and delivered to the Appel Quai that day by highly organised and effective Serb nationalists, is foolish. It was precisely because the three boys were Bosnians that they were the ideal pawns.
Unlike Ian Penman, I remember exactly where I was when Elvis died (LRB, 25 September). I was the (quite young) administrative officer at the Canadian Embassy in Islamabad. I was, luckily, aware that we had in stock special black-rimmed stationery, so when the news came in, I immediately issued a memorandum to all staff: ‘le roi est mort.’
Mary-Kay Wilmers’s offhand dismissal of ME as a ‘fashionable condition in the 1980s’ shows a disturbing level of ignorance about an increasingly prevalent illness which has destroyed the quality of life of many sufferers (LRB, 9 October). As a former kick boxer, now bed bound as a result of ME, this is something to which I can attest. ME is a complex neurological illness recognised for many years as such by the World Health Organisation, and more recently classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a serious life-threatening disease.
Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
Panegyricise Karl Miller all you like, but he still trashed the Listener. Never forgotten, never forgiven.
Melrose, Scottish Borders
Mary-Kay Wilmers writes: Apologies to Tony Gee. With more thought I would have said ‘that first became widely known in the 1980s’. As for the Listener, we had many letters similar to F.E.A.W.’s deploring the redesigned Listener’s ‘populism’ and ‘triviality’. Giving consideration to commercial television programmes! Printing material from TV as well as from radio! Articles about pop music (as it was then called)! How low! Most of those who wrote in gave their full names.
What your anonymous correspondent does not state is that the payment for unfair dismissal is capped in UK universities so that human resources departments know that if they offer more than the cap most people will accept, though the offer invariably comes with a gagging order (Letters, 23 October). And most university employees are far too spineless to protest at this treatment of their colleagues.
Richard Howell’s defence of joint enterprise prosecutions is naive (Letters, 9 October). He writes that a conviction depends on the prosecution showing that ‘the defendant did foresee that his co-defendant might commit the offence during the course of the joint enterprise but nevertheless continued to take part in it.’ This may be how joint enterprise is supposed to work, but as Melanie McFadyean demonstrates, it isn’t how it works in practice.
McFadyean refers to the case of Edward Conteh, convicted of manslaughter for an attack that took place outside a park in South London. Conteh was shown on CCTV to be riding his bike in the park itself at the time of the attack. According to the campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association, Conteh didn’t know either the perpetrator of the stabbing or the victim. To suggest that he must have foreseen a violent attack on one stranger by another, in a location at which he wasn’t present, is, shall we say, implausible.
David Trotter states that Stanley Baldwin was deputy prime minister in 1932 (LRB, 9 October). In fact, while Baldwin was arguably the most powerful man in the National Government, the position he held was that of ‘lord president of the Council’. The post of deputy prime minister was invented for Clement Attlee in 1942.
Nick Richardson writes about ‘disobedient objects’ (LRB, 9 October). I recently came across the story of a powerful disobedient object, in the form of a small stone. When the Nazis came to power in Potsdam, they kicked out the Jewish director of the Research Centre for Earth Sciences but didn’t manage to get their hands on a bronze bust of Einstein which had been very carefully hidden in the vaults. It was returned to its plinth when the war was over, but during the Nazi period, workers at the institute put a single stone on the empty plinth. ‘Einstein’ in German, means ‘one stone’.
A Lancaster bomber was once a soldier who threw grenades, David Trotter writes, and a Predictor was once a soothsayer (LRB, 9 October). To add to his list, radar was once a sound mirror. Sound mirrors were concave concrete constructions, like enormous satellite TV dishes, installed along the South Coast during the 1920s and 1930s to detect the sound of approaching enemy aircraft. Commonly known as ‘whisper dishes’ or ‘listening ears’, they became redundant once radar was developed, but during the interwar years they were Britain’s early warning system.
Michael Wood quotes Nabokov quoting Pushkin, in his letter to Véra, his wife: ‘They say that misfortune is a good school. Yes, true. But happiness is the best university’ (LRB, 23 October). This made me wonder who is at fault here, Nabokov or his translators, Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd. I do not have Nabokov’s Russian original, but I have Pushkin’s letter of mid-March 1834, to his best friend, Pavel Naschokin, where he wrote these words, which Nabokov quoted – from memory, naturally. But his memory, uncharacteristically, must have failed him in this case. What is translated as ‘Yes, true’ should have been translated as ‘Quite possible’, if Nabokov was quoting Pushkin correctly.
Frances Stonor Saunders’s lively and intriguing article, ‘The Writer and the Valet’, which has much to say about the role of Isaiah Berlin (hereafter IB) in the complex story of the publication of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, raises two kinds of question about journalistic practice that bear consideration (LRB, 25 September).
First, factual accuracy. FSS (as we shall now call her) has clearly done a good deal of research, but perhaps not quite enough. Moreover, she is not always careful enough to report her findings with scrupulous accuracy, and freely invents what is not in the documents.
Four months before a visit to the Soviet Union in 1956, IB received a letter from the Russian historian Martin Malia, who had met Pasternak there in 1955. Pasternak told Malia, FSS recounts, ‘that he had “sent out the first five parts"’ of Zhivago through a friend. What Malia actually wrote was that Pasternak had sent out ‘the first of five parts’ of the novel (my italics). He goes on to speak of ‘the other four parts’, whereas FSS next discusses what Pasternak was doing with ‘the later parts’, which accordingly makes no sense (the original typescript was divided into five parts, and sent abroad in that form).
IB first read the complete text of Zhivago at the British Embassy in Moscow (where he was the guest of the ambassador) after a visit to Pasternak’s dacha on 18 August 1956 during which Pasternak gave him a typescript of the novel. IB arrived at the house, FSS relates, ‘his indoor skin betraying the rigours of the Senior Common Room and the international diplomatic circuit’. This is pure novelistic invention, with no place in a serious article – and this is only the worst instance of several.
FSS mocks IB’s alleged deployment of the ‘subgenre’ she calls ‘The Foreigner Visiting Pasternak at His Dacha’: ‘Oh, that “cool" pine forest, and look, some dusty peasants’ etc. IB mentions no forest, let alone a ‘cool’ one (many of the trees in the grounds of Pasternak’s dacha are deciduous, for what it is worth: FSS herself mentions his orchard), or any peasants, dusty or otherwise. ‘And finally the farewell at the gate, at which Pasternak disappears back into the dacha and re-emerges with sheaves of typescript.’ More fantasy. As she later (this time correctly) says, ‘Pasternak took Berlin into his study, where he thrust a thick envelope into Berlin’s hands.’ Which is it to be, the gate or the study?
FSS tells us: ‘Pasternak looked, Marina Tsvetaeva said, “like an Arab and his horse".’ Her quotation marks give the misleading impression that she is quoting directly from Tsvetaeva rather than from a secondary source, but had she taken the trouble to look up Tsvetaeva’s Art in the Light of Conscience she would have been able to quote the remark accurately: ‘There’s something in his face of both the Arab and the Arab’s horse.’ She also quotes Pasternak as saying to IB: ‘I may not deserve to be remembered as a poet, but surely as a soldier in the battle for human freedom.’ As Pasternak makes clear in IB’s account, but FSS neglects to mention, Pasternak is quoting Heine.
FSS complains that in IB’s account of the 18 August meeting ‘there is no mention of his bride, Aline, who accompanied him, or of Pasternak’s wife, Zinaida.’ Wrong on both counts. Admittedly IB’s biographer for some reason supposes his wife Aline was with him on 18 August, but, as IB wrote to his mother the day before the visit, ‘Aline has gone to see Vladimir & Suzdal while I remained because I can see a poet tomorrow & I prefer people to architecture.’ As for Zinaida (who is mentioned five times in the full version of IB’s account, in Personal Impressions, four times in the shortened version in The Soviet Mind, which FSS seems to be using, at any rate some of the time), she is referred to in the narrative of the first 1956 visit, albeit not as a present actor – but a mention is a mention. Neuhaus’s ‘former wife Zinaida – now Pasternak’s wife – had told him that Pasternak was determined to get his novel published somewhere.’ If FSS is implying that IB wrongly downplays the role of the womenfolk, her implication does not stand up.
According to FSS, Pasternak ‘told Berlin that he had already given a typescript to an agent of the Italian communist publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, and this copy was now in Milan (a fact that had been duly noted by the KGB, which was trying to get it back)’. The KGB noted this on 24 August, after the conversation between IB and Pasternak.
FSS reports that, while IB was reading Zhivago in the embassy, in the Kremlin ‘the Soviet response to Dr Zhivago was being prepared. In an “important memo", the foreign minister, Dmitry Shepilov, was working himself up to an ulcer.’ Shepilov’s memo was written on 31 August, 12 days after IB finished reading the typescript. (The ulcer belongs with the indoor skin, the cool pines and the dusty peasants.)
When IB returned home, he took steps to arrange publication in the UK, as Pasternak had asked. FSS quotes a somewhat paranoid statement by Lydia Pasternak to the effect that IB controlled all intellectual life in Britain and kept everyone in a state of constant terror, followed by the claim that this statement is ‘supported’ by IB’s papers. In fact the papers she quotes merely show that IB was in touch with the publishers Hamish Hamilton and Mark Bonham Carter, suggesting that he might be able to procure them a text of Zhivago (he had not yet returned to the UK and could not be certain that the typescript Pasternak had entrusted to him, which he probably sent back by diplomatic bag, would reach him safely). This is hardly evidence of an unrelenting cultural reign of terror.
Later, the storm raised by Zhivago got out of hand, and IB tried ‘to stem the flow of “vulgar propaganda"’. No source is given for the phrase: is it IB’s? And some broadcasts of the novel by the BBC, ‘Berlin later stated, were “perhaps the worst of all the acts of persecution on our part"’. Stated where? I expect I have missed something in these cases, and should be glad to be put right.
‘It’s 1958,’ FSS writes, ‘but Feltrinelli is refusing the rights to a Russian edition until Pasternak gives him the go-ahead. Pasternak hesitates, gambling on ever poorer odds that the novel might yet appear in Russia.’ No: Pasternak’s correspondence with Feltrinelli, Jacqueline de Proyart and Hélène Peltier shows Pasternak already pushing for publication of the Russian text in 1957. Indeed, he is happy about the possibility of Mouton publishing the book in Russian.
FSS then rehearses an old canard: ‘Since the prize can’t be awarded for a work not published in its original language, the CIA prints an edition through a cut-out, or front, in Holland. This, the first ever appearance in Russian of the original text, deals with the Nobel Prize requirement.’ The claim that publication in the original language is a precondition of Nobel nomination has no foundation in fact, as Paolo Mancosu points out in Inside the Zhivago Storm: The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece – one of the books FSS is reviewing. And the CIA documents (available online) never refer to any such requirement.
Second, there is the question of acknowledging one’s sources. This is a matter of both good manners and not misleading the reader. FSS gives the impression that her quotations from IB’s letters are culled from his papers in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. This may be so, but since all but two of her quotations have appeared in the edition of IB’s letters published by Chatto and Windus, it would have been helpful to have mentioned at least the existence of this edition, which also contains the letter to IB’s mother that I quote above. (Here I declare an interest: I am one of its editors. But all the same. Could the omission be anything to do with a footnote in the third volume that points out mistakes made by FSS in her 1999 book Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War?) One of the remaining quotations (not to be found in the Bodleian) appears in Mancosu’s book, and that too might have been noticed. A further quotation she takes from his book is that Pasternak, ‘in his own words’, wanted ‘to suffer as all the true Russian poets have always suffered’. The words come from a letter from Angelo Ripellino to Italo Calvino, and we cannot assume that they are (or are meant to be) Pasternak’s actual words.
One could go on. For example, she refers to Hamish Hamilton, unnaturally, as ‘an editor at Hamish Hamilton’. And her quotations are repeatedly just slightly inaccurate: for example, IB declares himself ‘terribly shaken’ by Zhivago, not (as FSS has it) ‘deeply shaken’. Why not get them right? But enough. Maybe none of these points amounts to a hanging offence, but cumulatively they constitute a clear case of trahison des clercs, sometimes for the sake of a spicier story, and undermine one’s faith in FSS’s hypothesis that IB’s motivation for his role in the Zhivago affair was self-serving, which is in any case entirely at odds not only with the available documents but also with the personality of the man I have known well for over forty years. He was certainly no saint, but he deserves (as we all do) less cavalier treatment. Establishing truth in human affairs is a difficult enterprise: the very least we can expect from investigators is proper care and courtesy.
Frances Stonor Saunders writes: Henry Hardy (or HH, as we shall now call him) accuses me of inaccuracy and making things up in ‘The Writer and the Valet’. He warms up his case with the lofty assertion that my description of Isaiah Berlin as having ‘indoor skin’ has no place in a serious article. I accept that I entered this comment as an opinion, but I didn’t come to it while lolling on a chaise-longue with nothing better to do, but after looking at photographs of Berlin and from extensive reading of biographical and autobiographical material which nurtured the impression in me that he was an indoor type who preferred talking to walking (in contrast to Pasternak, the ‘woodsman-poet’). And is it really novelistic to suggest that his familiar beat was the Senior Common Room and the diplomatic circuit?
HH has a very low opinion of me, dating back to the publication of my book Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, and he expends great time and energy squinting at my every word under his jeweller’s magnifier. This is helpful where flaws are exposed, and I’m more than willing to accept his corrections where they are valid. But his nano-analytical gaze can sometimes lead to a blurring of both the wood and the trees. Literally. He gives us the flora of Peredelkino as being deciduous as much as evergreen, and says that Berlin mentions no forest (perhaps he, Berlin, didn’t notice it. I rest my case). Yet there are many reports that emphasise the foresty woodiness of Peredelkino. Here is Olga Carlisle, in the Summer-Fall 1960 issue of Paris Review: ‘The house’s veranda made it look much like an American frame house of forty years ago, but the firs against which it stood marked it as Russian. They grew very close together and gave the feeling of deep forest, although there were only small groves of them around the town.’ One could go on, as HH likes to say.
I intended it to be clear that ‘The Foreigner Visiting Pasternak at His Dacha’, as a ‘subgenre of intellectual history’, was invented by Berlin, but enlarged by many others. For this reason, I attributed the first quote about ‘the victims of a shipwreck’ to Berlin, but not the quotes that followed. They are taken from, inter alia, Olga Carlisle, Miriam Berlin, Gerd Ruge, Sergio d’Angelo.
HH helpfully refers me to the actual form of words Marina Tsvetaeva used about Pasternak’s appearance, and indeed the italics are my fault, though some secondary sources give it thus. I agree that it’s always better to go to the primary source, and not through an intermediary such as Isaiah Berlin, who happens to use a form of words not dissimilar to mine: Pasternak’s face, he writes, was ‘described by one of his contemporaries as looking like “an Arab and his horse"’. This is in an essay published in the Isaiah Berlin Virtual Library, which I notice advertises itself as a site ‘maintained by Henry Hardy’.
Next we have my failure to mention that Pasternak is quoting Heine (that’s Heinrich Heine, for accuracy’s sake), but as Pasternak, like many of his Russian contemporaries, couched his declarations in the declarations of others, I desisted from mentioning it on every occasion. I regret this, as it conveys the self-dramatising aspect of Pasternak that I was trying to capture in the article.
As to the matter of ‘the womenfolk’, after putting aside my sewing basket I searched through my notes and found that I mistakenly took Berlin’s authorised biographer, Michael Ignatieff, as a reliable source for Aline’s whereabouts on the 18 August visit to Peredelkino. No doubt Ignatieff will correct this in any further reprints of his book. As to Berlin’s mention of Zinaida on that same visit, I still can’t find it, although she is named elsewhere in Berlin’s account of his month-long stay in Moscow in the summer of 1956. The mention that HH gives by way of refuting my observation is not for the day in question.
The KGB memo is indeed dated 24 August, but the KGB had knowledge prior to this date of Sergio d’Angelo’s actions in taking the typescript of Dr Zhivago out of Russia. Their informant was most likely a colleague of d’Angelo’s at Radio Moscow. I refer HH to Ivan Tolstoy’s The Laundered Novel, and a collection of documents published in Russian in 2001 under the title And the Clamour of the Chase behind Me: Boris Pasternak and the Authorities, Documents of 1956-1972. Similarly, although the Shepilov memo was dated 31 August, it and its enclosures were weeks in preparation.
HH claims that I refer to ‘Hamish Hamilton, unnaturally, as “an editor at Hamish Hamilton"’. I don’t. I refer simply to ‘an editor at Hamish Hamilton’ (his name was Jamie Hamilton, for accuracy’s sake). HH sees nothing odd about the tone of Berlin’s letters to the English publishers, including the unprompted lie about not having read Dr Zhivago, and he is entitled to his opinion, as I am to mine. But for HH to smart at the suggestion that Berlin was meddlesome or secretive while at the same time casually dismissing Lydia Pasternak Slater (for accuracy’s sake) as ‘paranoid’ seems a little unbalanced.
Where, HH asks, does Berlin state that the BBC broadcasts of the novel were ‘perhaps the worst of all the acts of persecution on our part’? ‘I expect I have missed something,’ HH adds. This is typical of his prosecutory style, implying error or fault while quietly stuffing a caveat emptor into his bag of tricks. And yes, he has missed something (it happens to all of us). The quote is taken from Berlin’s letter to Bernard Wall, 2 March 1959 (MS Berlin 406, fol.76, Bodleian Library), which goes on to say: ‘We have done [Pasternak] infinite harm as it is by identifying him with our cause.’
Most oddly, HH chastises me for bad manners and ‘misleading the reader’ by giving the impression that I have culled these and other quotations from Berlin’s papers. All right, I confess: I did cull, over a couple of hot days earlier this summer, welded to a desk (not literally, for accuracy’s sake) in the bowels (sorry, basement) of the Bodleian while all (OK, some of) the world outside was sunbathing. But HH takes offence, arguing that I should instead have gone to Berlin’s letters as published by Chatto and Windus, edited by none other than HH. Is anybody following this? I think HH is saying that it’s rude to overlook his own efforts, and that I should go to the primary source when it’s Tsvetaeva but not when it’s Berlin.
There seems to be a terrible confusion in HH’s mind about scholarly standards (I note he brackets my efforts as ‘journalistic’, thus banishing me from the highest hosannahs of his own intellectual praxis). A further example of this confusion is his claim that ‘we cannot assume’ that the words quoted by Professor Ripellino to Italo Calvino (that Pasternak, ‘in his own words’, wanted ‘to suffer as all the true Russian poets have always suffered’) were actually Pasternak’s own words. If we can’t assume they were his own words, as reported by Ripellino, then how can we assume they were his own words when reported by anyone else – Isaiah Berlin, say?
Much of the ‘evidence’ in the story of the publication of Dr Zhivago is frustratingly muddled. But I believe that Pasternak in early 1958 was still hoping for a Russian edition, published in Russia; that his instructions to his various foreign proxies were often contradictory; that the endless legal sagas that ensued over who owned what rights and what royalties point to the impossibility of drawing any safe conclusions as to what exactly happened. The involvement of the CIA further muddied the waters, leading to accusations that some of his collaborators were working in cahoots with the Agency (we shall never know), and that the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Pasternak was also in some way linked to this covert activity. The CIA clearly had their eye on it, as per the reference I give in my piece. There may have been no official, written requirement that the prize only be given to a work or works published in the mother tongue, but until the award to Pasternak, there was no exception to this formula.
HH is right to correct one quote, where I mistakenly give Berlin as being ‘deeply shaken’ after reading Dr Zhivago. I elided the two phrases ‘deeply moved’ and ‘terribly shaken’. I am happy to apologise for this. I do not dodge the duty of ‘proper care and courtesy’, and I’m confident that HH will not dodge it either.
There are two things critics of Nigel Farage overlook (LRB, 9 October). They almost always point to his public school, City trader and ex-Conservative Party pasts, but say little about his lack of post-16 educational qualifications, something he has in common with many of the voters in the parliamentary seats he purports to represent, according to social surveys of Clacton and similar Ukip targets. Second, he has only ever moved within a relatively small and clearly defined English Home Counties environment. Meek says he lives in South London, but although he went to Dulwich College, the Ukip leader in fact lives in a small village near Westerham in the Kentish constituency of Sevenoaks, just around the corner from where his mother still has the family home. So although Farage worked for a French bank, and his second wife is German, one can truly say that his hinterland is quintessentially Forever English.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.