Monday, March 28, 2011

John Steinbeck's Biography and Literature Contributions

Utilizing an authentic voice essential to the common man, and novels such as the Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck unveils the difficulties faced by the working class and how they overcame the countless obstacles laid before them during troubled times such as the Great Depression. John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California on Feburary 27, 1902 and happened to write in a majority of his stories with similar settings of where he lived, including 25 books, a majority of which are novels (Magill American 1886). Later he moved to New York and later New York, New York on December 20th, 1968. John Steinbeck was a world renowned author whom was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1962, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Grapes of Wrath in 1940 (Magill Long Fiction 3149).

Steinbeck often refers to his childhood as a happy one. His father was fairly wealthy and bought him gifts such as a red pony, which influenced a series of books called The Red Pony. His mother who was a former school teacher encouraged him to read and write in his class. Later he attended Stanford University, but soon had problems with classes and dropped out several times. He soon went to go work on ranches in Salinas Valley to help him for what he considered to be "real life" (Magill Long Fiction 3153). He left Stanford without a degree in 1925 and went to New York where he worked as a "laborer, newspaper reporter, and free-lace writer" (Magill Long Fiction 3153). "He became disillusioned in all his abortive pursuits, and returned to California, where he got a job as a winter caretaker at Lake Tahoe and was able to finish his first novel, Cup of Gold" (Magill Long Fiction 3154). Shortly afterward Steinbeck released his newest book Tortilla Flat which "is a droll tale of Monterey's Mexican quarter, and established him as a popular and critical success in 1935" (Beach 3377). Steinbeck soon produced several successful books and the things that held him up were plentiful in number. He soon fled California, and with it left the realistic style of his finest novels, and was unable to cope with the war, World War II. "His personal life mirrored his literary difficulties. Although Gwen Conger presented him with his only children - Tom, born in 1944, and John in 1946 - they were divorced in 1948" (Magill Long Fiction 3154). In the same year his close friend, Ricketts was killed in a car crash. This change in style led to some of Steinbeck's finest novels such as Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.

Though Steinbeck's career continued long afterward despite the fact that he was later only viewed as a "shell of the great writer of the 1930's" (Beach 3381). Yet as Charles Poore of the New York Times stated the day after John Ernst Steinbeck's death, "His place in U.S. literautre is secure, and it lives on in the works of the innumerable writers who learned from him how to present the forgotten man unforgettably" (Magill American 1899).

Works Cited

Beach, Joseph Warren, et al. John Steinbeck Draper, James P., ed.
    World Literature Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc.,
    1992. 3372-3389.
Magill, Frank N. John Steinbeck Millichap, Joseph R., ed. Critical
    Survey of Long Fiction: English Language Series. Pasadera:
    Salem Press, 1991. 3149-3162.
Magill, Frank N. John Steinbeck Shuman, Baird. R., ed. Magill's
    Survey of American Literature: Volume 6. New York: Marshall
    Cavendish Corporation, 1991. 1885-1899


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