(Dorothy Butchard’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 2/26.)

Mark Twain visited Russia with a group of Quakers in 1867, who described themselves as “a handful of citizens of the United States, traveling for recreation.” In Sevastopol, the “fragments of houses” still showed the effects of siege during the Crimean War, described in Tolstoy’s “Sevastopol Sketches.” The group scoured the area for trinkets and mementos of the famous conflict. “There was nothing else to do,” Twain reports in “Innocents Abroad,” “so everybody went to hunting relics.”

Meeting the Tsar

Twain had lost his passport before visiting Russia, and his arrival was accompanied by “fear and trembling…a vague, horrible apprehension that I was going to be found out and hanged.” Years later, he published a short story reminiscent of these fears. In “The Belated Russian Passport,” the hero worries his lack of a passport will lead to detention:

“In a few hours I shall be one of a nameless horde plodding the snowy solitudes of Russia… bound for that land of mystery and misery and termless oblivion, Siberia!”


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