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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Excerpt from Transnational Russian-American Travel Writing


Margarita Marinova’s text is excerpted from her new work Transnational Russian-American Travel Writing. The work’s purpose is to examine “the diverse practices of crossing boundaries, tactics of translation, and experiences of double and multiple political and national attachments” found in a group of writings about encounters between Russians and Americans between 1865 and the Russian Revolution of 1905. (These encounters provide a prelude to the more famous American travelogue of 1930s Soviet satirical writers Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, Odnoetazhnaia Amerika [Single-Storied America].) Contrasting viewpoints on race and ethnicity form an important element of Marinova’s corpus, and one fine example is the extract shown here, which treats the encounter of Russian-Jewish revolutionary Vladimir Bogoraz (Tan) with a Black American student working as a Pullman porter, and the Russian’s unwittingly humorous incapacity to view him outside of stereotypes (in a fashion that anticipates the character of the mother in Shirley Jackson’s mordant short story “After You, My Dear Alphonse”).

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