Abstract

A piece of travel writing, rather than the well-received fiction that solidified his public reputation, Steinbeck’s 1948 A Russian Journal lacks both the reading and the critical audiences it so well deserves. This article explores the textual complexities that make A Russian Journal a wholly different and experimental work for the writer. Concerned with language, translation, and objectivity during the Cold War, Steinbeck wants to communicate things that reflect the ethos of Soviet society to the American public. Using things rather than words, Steinbeck models an alternative mode of translinguistic communication using things that impress on its readers more than just words, but concepts, emotions, and power. Knowing that Russia today, well into the twenty-first century, is a place of “otherness,” Steinbeck’s mode of writing using things to communicate needs to be underscored and discussed as a means to share and know more about our worldly neighbors that live in other cultural and linguistic zones.

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