SUMMARY: While the powerlessness of the laboring class is a recurring theme in Steinbeck's work of the late 1930s, he narrowed his focus when composing "Of Mice and Men" (1937), creating an intimate portrait of two men facing a world marked by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness. But though the scope is narrow, the theme is universal; a friendship and a shared dream that makes an individual's existence meaningful.
The Grapes of Wrath is generally considered Steinbeck's masterpiece, but the short novel was the form he most frequently turned to and most consciously theorized about, and with constant experimentation he made the form his own. Much of the best—and the worst—of his writing appears in his short novels. This collection reviews what has been categorized as the “good” and the “bad,” looking beyond the careless labeling that has characterized a great deal of the commentary on Steinbeck's writing to the true strengths and weaknesses of the works. The contributors demonstrate that even in the short novels that are most often criticized, there is more depth and sophistication than has generally been acknowledged. The essays examine the six most popular short novels—Tortilla Flat, The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, The Moon Is Down, Cannery Row, and The Pearl—in addition to the three usually thought of as less successful—Burning Bright, Sweet Thursday, and The Short Reign of Pippin IV. Because most of Steinbeck's short novels were adapted and presented as plays or screenplays, many of the essays deal with dramatic or film versions of the short novels as well as with the fiction. The collection concludes with a comprehensive checklist of criticism of the short novels. Contributors. Richard Astro, Jackson J. Benson, Carroll Britch, John Ditsky, Joseph Fontenrose, Warren French, Robert Gentry, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, William Goldhurst, Tetsumaro Hayashi, Robert S. Hughes Jr., Howard Levant, Clifford Lewis, Peter Lisca, Anne Loftis, Charles R. Metzger, Michael J. Meyer, Robert E. Morsberger, Louis Owens, Roy S. Simmonds, Mark Spilka, John Timmerman
"Editor Katharine A. Rodger has enriched the correspondence with an introduction, a biographical essay, and a list of works cited. The book will be important for students of John Steinbeck and the development of 20th-century American fiction, as well as for those interested in the history of science, especially in the fields of marine biology and ecology."--BOOK JACKET.
The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in the series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format. In CliffsNotes on Of Mice and Men, you'll meet drifters Lennie and George and recount their peculiar difficulties and unusual bond. The CliffsNotes commentaries, summaries, and character analysis will show you why this sweet, sad, and moving American story is considered to be one of Steinbeck's greatest works. You'll also find Life and background of the author, John Steinbeck A short introduction to the novel A character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the characters Critical essays A review section that tests your knowledge A Resource Center with books, Web sites, films, and magazine articles for further study Classic literature or modern-day treasure—you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.
Bloom's How to Write about John Steinbeck offers valuable paper-topic suggestions, clearly outlined strategies on how to write a strong essay, and an insightful introduction by Harold Bloom on writing about Steinbeck.