Moscow: Gosizdat, 1940. Item #97
504 pp.: ill., 1 front. (ill.). 20x13,5 cm. Illustrations by L. Brodaty. In original publisher's illustrated card boards. Covers slightly rubbed, owner's signature on the front endpaper, owner's ink book stamp on the title page, pp. 17, 41, 504; a small wormhole on the lower side of a few pages. Otherwise a very good clean copy.
First Russian edition. First book by Steinbeck in Russian.
Although the book was banned shortly in Ireland and few American towns (in schools and libraries) it was for obvious reasons
never banned in Soviet Union. It was important for Soviet authorities to monitor what was published in the West. Unfortunately for them it was a hard task to find anything suitable for their purposes - a high standard bright foreign fiction with correct ideology. That is why Grapes of Wrath was a definite bombshell not only in America but even more so in Soviet Union. It made Steinbeck famous in a day. Starting in August of 1939 such newspapers as Pradva, Ogonyok, Literary Newspaper printed short fragments from Grapes of Wrath. Soviet newspapers made it famous even before it was fully published. For example, Izvestiya from November 17th 1939 with an article titled "Grapes of Wrath - banned in USA" about a campaign against the book across America: "...because it reflects the hard
situation and conditions in which farmers live in California". Soviet anticapitalist interpretation was obvious and announced instantly in many reviews, e.g. in one of these reviews was said the author "leads us to a logical way out - a revolution, freeing lower classes from exploitation". Soviet periodicals clearly showed ideological and political bias typical for the Soviet assessment and interpretation of the novel as an example of proletarian and anti-capitalist American literature. After the full translation was published in 1940 Steinbeck received many letters from Soviet editors and officials thanking him for writing this novel and telling him about thousands of new fans.
In 1948 USSR bought rights for Grapes of Wrath film (1940) to demonstrate the Soviet viewer all "ulcers and vices" of American capitalism but in just a few days of the showing the film was cancelled because people noticed that a broke farmer was able to buy a used truck.
In 1963 Steinbeck came to Russia for the second time (his first visit he described in his book A Russian Journal published in 1948). At one of the unofficial meetings at Russian poet Evtushenko's apartment he met a Siberian driver (Evtushenko's uncle Andrey) with whom he spent almost the entire evening in a conversation. Apparently the driver knew Grapes of Wrath very well which maid Steinbeck ecstatic: "You made my day, Andrew! I would never thought truck drivers from Siberia would read my books!"
WorldCat locates four copies.