The friendship of John Steinbeck and Robert Capa was strong, despite some funny frictions during their month-long trip to the Soviet Union. Idiosyncratic characters both, and both no doubt exasperating at close quarters, probably Steinbeck was the more infuriating, as outlined beautifully in Capa’s witty three-page ‘legitimate complaint’, slyly slipped in to the middle of Steinbeck’s slim and limpid travel journal.
Here Steinbeck admits to having been momentarily cruel and lists his acts of guilt-assuaging atonement. Note that he knew better than to touch Capa’s treasured camera equipment which the photographer cared for with the fierce zeal of a lioness protecting cubs.
‘And because I had been cruel to him, I fixed all of his non-camera equipment: filled his lighter, sharpened his pencils, filled his fountain-pen.’
Source: John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal, with photographs by Robert Capa (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999 (1948)), p. 138
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