Categories
Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: John Steinbeck, The Great American Realist

“A book is like a man—clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun. Well—then the book is done. It has no virtue any more. The writer wants to cry out—”Bring it back! Let me rewrite it or better—Let me burn it. Don’t let it out in the unfriendly cold in that condition.

John Steinbeck, A Book Is like a Man – Letters of Note

Letters of Note

First off, special thanks to one of our loyal followers who helped us with our very first author spotlight. Thank you for providing your review on Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl.

Some Background Information

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was born on the 27th of February, 1902 to a middle-class family in Salinas, California. His hometown of Salinas (and the region of Central California) would later serve as the setting for his iconic books. If you visit Salinas today, there is an entire museum dedicated to him. His works are mainly social critiques told from the lens of ranch owners and/or workers. Steinbeck would later win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 and to this day is considered one of the greatest American novelists of all time.

Of Mice and Men (1937)

Perhaps the most famous novella in American literature, Of Mice and Men sheds light on the difficult conditions during the Great Depression through its two main characters George and Lennie. George and Lennie are polar opposites (George is a small and weak but clever man while Lennie is a large and strong but dim-witted man) and have a beautiful dynamic. George is very protective of Lennie, and the two travel around California in hopes of one day owning their own farm but of course they face numerous challenges throughout the book. At just over 100 pages, this novella is poignant, emotional and manages to present many controversial topics such as mental illness, brawns vs brains, racism, poverty and morality.

The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

Set against a backdrop of depression-era America, The Grapes of Wrath tell the hardships of Tom Joad as he, his family, and other fellow “Okies” ventures west to California in search of a better life as farm hands to survive their precarious position. (Author’s note: The best journeys always head west, think the Gold Rush or Manifest Destiny). What should pique the readers’ interest more than its depiction of a downtrodden and neglected side of America is the fact that this was the book that led to Steinbeck being labeled as a communist for years afterwards for its anti-capitalist undertones. Ironically, the movie based on the book was also banned in the Soviet Union. When the movie came out in the late ’40s, Stalin allowed it to be screened in the Soviet Union to show the flaws and poverty under capitalism. However, this backfired as Soviet citizens noticed that even the poorest Americans are able to afford a car, and hence Stalin quickly pulled the movie out.

The Pearl (1947)

This light reading is a classic tale of how greed blinds even the eyes of those with the best intentions. Set in Mexico, The Pearl tells the story of a poor pearl fisherman couple, Kino and Juana, along with their infant son Coyotito. They live an idyllic life until the young one suffers a sting from a scorpion. Determined to get him the best medical attention, Kino set out to find the biggest pearl he can sell, and by sheer luck, he did. However, as in real life, whispers of sudden wealth bring upon malicious parties who are, in no uncertain terms, out to get you. Will the struggling family survive?

East of Eden (1952)

Not as well-known as Grapes of Wrath, but was actually considered by Steinbeck as his magnum opus. I actually decided to buy this book because whenever I was looking for “best books” or “what should I read next?” on reddit, this book kept coming up over and over again. I finally read the book and was surprised at how much I loved it. It feels quite optimistic for a Steinbeck book, and though it is set in Central California as usual, the tone of the novel is decidedly more grand and epic. This is because the novel deals with universal themes of sibling rivalry (mirroring the biblical story of Cain and Abel) and good vs evil. A central question the book tries to tackle is “Are we stuck with the character we were born with? If we are born innately evil, is it even worth it to try and become a good person?”. Also, the housekeeper Lee is one of the best characters in literature and a testament to Steinbeck’s brilliance and open-mindedness. Lee is an intelligent, college-educated Chinese-American housekeeper who reads Marcus Aurelius but pretends to speak in pidgin to those outside of his inner circle because he knows people see what they want to see.

Final Thoughts

I think the reason why so many people love Steinbeck is that his stories are set in locations familiar to him, retelling the tales of many average Californians he had been familiar with, and with topics near and dear to his heart. Consequently, every work of his is authentic, honest, no fluffs and through his works you get a sense of his moral compass and love for the underdogs.

Next on my list are Cannery Row and Travels with Charley. Are you a Steinbeck fan? Please leave your comments below! And if you have any suggestions or requests for upcoming Author Spotlight posts, please let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading

  1. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1962/steinbeck/biographical/
  2. “A Book Is like a Man.” Letters of Note, 29 Feb. 2012, lettersofnote.com/2012/02/29/a-book-is-like-a-man/.
  3. National Steinbeck Center. 2020. Biography – National Steinbeck Center. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from: https://www.steinbeck.org/about-john/biography/.

Need ideas on what to read next? Check out our list of books to stock up on during self-isolation.

3,598 replies on “Author Spotlight: John Steinbeck, The Great American Realist”

I absolutely love this post! As someone trying to get into reading, I feel that Steinbeck is the right author to start with. Books are, after all, Netflix before Netflix was.

Hi there, thank you for your kind comments. I agree, Steinbeck writes a lot of novellas so they are perfect for those just starting out or trying to “get in the groove”. Let us know if you have any suggestions for our next Author Spotlight or Book Review!

Detail: http://zrenieblog.ru/ http://zrenieblog.ru/ http://zrenieblog.ru/
歷史
六七千年前的先民就開始釣魚。周文王曾和兒子們在靈沼釣魚取樂。戰國時范蠡也愛釣魚,常把所釣之魚供給越王勾踐食用。 二十世紀八十年代,中國大陸的各級釣魚協會成立,釣魚地點也從自然水域向養殖水域過度,所釣之魚則從粗養向細養過度。人數增多、水體污染及濫捕濫撈導致釣魚難度上升。釣魚協會開始與漁民和農民簽訂文件,使更多釣者能夠在養殖水域釣魚,達到了雙贏的目的。 二十世紀九十年代初,來自台灣的懸釣法走紅大陸,各地開始建造標準釣池。 二十世紀末,發達國家的釣者提倡回顧自然,引發新一輪野釣戰,而中國的釣者則更青睞精養魚池。]

工具

一种钓鱼竿机械部分示意图
最基本的钓具包括:鱼竿、鱼线、鱼钩、沉坨(又名沉子)、浮标(又名鱼漂)、鱼饵。]:1其他辅助钓具包括:失手绳、钓箱、线轮、抄网、鱼篓、渔具盒、钓鱼服、钓鱼鞋等。]:1

钓竿一般由玻璃纖維或碳纖維轻而有力的竿状物质製成,钓竿和鱼饵用丝线联接。一般的鱼饵可以是蚯蚓、米饭、蝦子、菜叶、苍蝇、蛆等,现代有专门制作好(多数由自己配置的半成品)的粉製鱼饵出售。鱼饵挂在鱼鉤上,不同的對象鱼有不同的釣組配置。在周围水面撒一些誘餌通常会有較好的集魚效果。

钓具
鱼竿
主条目:鱼竿
钓鱼的鱼竿按照材质包括:传统竹竿、玻璃纤维竿、碳素竿,按照钓法包括:手竿、矶竿、海竿(又名甩竿),按照所钓鱼类包括:溪流小继竿、日鲫竿(又名河内竿)、鲤竿、矶中小物竿。]:6-8

鱼钩
主条目:鱼钩
鱼钩就是垂钓用的钩,主要分为:有倒钩、无倒钩、毛钩。]:14

鱼线
主条目:鱼线
鱼线就是垂钓时绑接鱼竿和鱼钩的线,历史上曾使用蚕丝(远古日本)、发丝(江户时期日本)、马尾(西欧)、二枚贝(地中海)、蛛网丝(夏威夷)、琼麻(东南亚)、尼龙钓线(美国)。]:25

鱼漂
主条目:鱼漂
鱼漂又名浮标,垂钓时栓在鱼线上的能漂浮的东西,主要用于搜集水底情报,查看鱼汛,观察鱼饵存留状态,以及水底水流起伏变化。]:36

鱼饵
主条目:鱼饵
鱼饵分为诱饵和钓饵,是一种用来吸引鱼群和垂钓时使用的物品,钓饵分为荤饵、素饵、拟饵、拉饵。]:170

沉子
主条目:沉子
沉子又名沉坨、铅锤,是一种调节鱼漂的工具。]:45

卷线器
主条目:卷线器
卷线器主要安装在海竿和矶竿上的一种卷线的工具。]:63

连结具
主条目:连结具
连结具是连结鱼线与钓竿、母线与子线的一种连结物,使用最广泛的是连结环。]:55

识鱼
鱼类的视力不如人类,距离、宽度均无法和人类的视力比较,鱼类对水色、绿色比较敏感,鱼类的嗅觉非常灵敏,鱼类的听觉也非常灵敏,钓鲤鱼时,不能在岸上大声谈笑、走动不停,鱼类的思考能力非常弱,鱼类应对周边环境随着气象、水温、水色、潮流、流速、水量的变化而变化,于是便出现了在同一个池塘、水库、湖泊,往日钓鱼收获大,今日少,上午收获大,下午少,晴天大,雨天少等情况。]:114-117淡水钓鱼,中国大陆经常垂钓的鱼类对象是本地鲫鱼、日本鲫、非洲鲫、鲤鱼、游鱼、罗非鱼、黄刺鱼(黄鸭叫)、黄尾、鳊鱼、青鱼、草鱼、鲢鱼、鳙鱼,台湾经常垂钓的鱼类对象是本地鲫鱼、日本鲫、吴郭鱼(罗非鱼)、溪哥仔和红猫(粗首马口鱲)、斗鱼、罗汉鱼、苦花、三角姑(河鮠)、竹蒿头(密鱼)。]:117

影响鱼类的6大因素主要是:季节变更、气温高低、水的涨落、风的大小、水的清浊、天气阴晴