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Every picture tells some stories: photographic illustrations in British travel accounts of Russia on the eve of World War One

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Slavonic and East European Review
Issue number4
Volume92
Number of pages30
Pages (from-to)674-703
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Changes in technology meant that it had by the early twentieth century become comparatively cheap and easy to reproduce photographs in books. Many travel books written by British visitors to the tsarist empire, in the years before 1914, included reproductions of photographs. These photographs were sometimes carefully selected to complement the text and present a particular image of the country. On other occasions, though, they were little more than adornments designed to increase sales. The use of photographs in travel books was sometimes designed to foster a sense of the authenticity of the written text, given that they possessed a patina of realism that could not always be achieved by words alone. Some authors, like the travel writer Stephen Graham, nevertheless found it difficult to identify two-dimensional photographs capable of capturing in visual form a nuanced (if eccentric) understanding of Russia as a place whose identity was founded on a distinctive spirituality. Nor is it clear how readers were influenced by photographic illustrations in the books they read.