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Books & Authors

Happy Birthday, John Steinbeck

 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression, Steinbeck's tale of commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss remains one of America's most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. They hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. Of Mice and Men represents an experiment in form, which Steinbeck described as "a kind of playable novel, written in a novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands." A rarity in American letters, it achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films.

Carol & John Steinbeck : portrait of a marriage by Susan Shillinglaw

Carol Henning Steinbeck, writer John Steinbeck's first wife, was his creative anchor, the inspiration for his great work of the 1930s, culminating in The Grapes of Wrath. Meeting at Lake Tahoe in 1928, their attachment was immediate, their personalities meshing in creative synergy. Carol was unconventional, artistic, and compelling. In the formative years of Steinbeck's career, living in San Francisco, Pacific Grove, Los Gatos, and Monterey, their Modernist circle included Ed Ricketts, Joseph Campbell, and Lincoln Steffens. In many ways Carol's story is all too familiar: a creative and intelligent woman subsumes her own life and work into that of her husband. Together, they brought forth one of the enduring novels of the 20th century.

 The Grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck

The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized--and sometimes outraged--millions of readers. First published in 1939, Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads--driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California.  A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man's fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman's stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

 Steinbeck in Vietnam : Dispatches from the War edited by Thomas E. Barden
Drawing on four primary-source archives--the Steinbeck collection at Princeton, the Papers of Harry F. Guggenheim at the Library of Congress, the Pierpont Morgan Library's Steinbeck holdings, and the archives of Newsday --Barden's collection brings together the last published writings of this American author of enduring national and international stature. In addition to offering a definitive edition of these essays, Barden includes extensive notes as well as an introduction that provides background on the essays themselves, the military situation, the social context of the 1960s, and Steinbeck's personal and political attitudes at the time.


 East of Eden by John Steinbeck

A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America's most enduring authors, in a deluxe Centennial edition In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden "the first book," and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. The masterpiece of Steinbeck's later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence.

Journey to the Sea of Cortez retracing the Stienbeck/Ricketts expedition of 1940
In March 1940, the author John Steinbeck and his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts, sailed down the coast of California and Mexico to the Sea of Cortez. Their stated purpose was to document the creatures that inhabit shallow waters and tide pools on the margins of the Sea of Cortez. But it became much more. In these mysterious, phosphorescent waters, they sought an understanding of mankind's relationship to the natural world, and a wellspring of hope for a world headed toward war.

 

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck


Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, John Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above the town of Monterey, California, and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. At the center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur's castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging--men who fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil and civil rectitude. As Nobel Prize winner Steinbeck chronicles their deeds--their multiple lovers, their wonderful brawls, their Rabelaisian wine-drinking--he spins a tale as compelling and ultimately as touched by sorrow as the famous legends of the Round Table, which inspired him.

 

 Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

 

Steinbeck's portrait of people on the margins of society, dependant on one another for both physical and emotional survival Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values. The author returns to the setting of Tortilla Flat to create another evocative portrait of life as it is lived by those who unabashedly put the highest value on the intangibles--human warmth, camaraderie, and love.

 

The Pearl by John Steinbeck


One of Steinbeck's most taught works, The Pearl is the story of the Mexican diver Kino, whose discovery of a magnificent pearl from the Gulf beds means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife Juana cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to tragedy. This classic novella from Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck examines the fallacy of the American dream, and illustrates the fall from innocence experienced by people who believe that wealth erases all problems.

 

 

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