On their month long trip to the Soviet Union in 1947, John Steinbeck and the photographer Robert Capa had several meetings with local literati which they generally found daunting. Here they compare notes on the relative standing of writers in the Soviet Union versus those in the United States. It made me laugh.  Enjoy!

‘He seemed a little surprised that writers in America do not get together, do not associate with one another very much. In the Soviet Union writers are very important people. Stalin has said that writers are the architects of the human soul. 

We explained to him that writers in America have quite a different standing, that they are considered just below acrobats and just above seals.’


Source: John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal, with photographs by Robert Capa (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999 (1948)), p. 26

Photo credit: kerttu at pixabay


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