Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Steinbeck, John. (1902 - 1968).

L i f e

- born in California > portrayed the California paisanos in his writing

- left university without degree, underwent a series of odd jobs

- consistently wrote stories and novels x but: rejected for publication

- eventually received the Nobel Prize for literature

W o r k

- content: lowly dispossessed people with their indignant fear and inherent dignity against the Great Depression background x an universal desire to become a voice for the broken dreams and lives of common people

- form: naturalist methods to examine the inner workings of human mind

- interested in socio-biology: examined the difference between individuals and groups and believed it qualitative rather than quantitative

- concerned with extremely reduced states of consciousness <=> his California predecessor J. London: portrayed idiots, illiterates, and animals

The Pastures of Heaven (1932):

- a collection of short stories about a California farming community

To a God Unknown (1933):

- a novel about a California farmer’s pagan fertility cult

Tortilla Flat (1935):

- a novel about California paisanos and social problems

In Dubious Battle (1936):

- a novel about a strike by migrant fruit pickers and the mood of the mob

Of Mice and Men (1937):

- a folk parable of itinerant farmhands dreaming of a piece of land to own

The Long Valley (1938):

- a collection of short fiction, includes “The Red Pony” and “The Snake”

The Grapes of Wrath (1939):

- an odyssey of a family of dispossessed sharecroppers migrating to the ‘Promised Land’ of California against the Great Depression background

- the family driven from their home both by draughts and banks demanding the payments for mortgages = the trend of migration to western California, the indifference of capitalism

- originally intended as a study of the features of human nature x but: ended up as a novel of social protest: a record of poverty resulting from the Great Depression and draughts, and a chronicle of humanity

- won him the Pulitzer Prize, directly led to the Nobel Prize

Cannery Row (1944):

- a ‘down-and-out’ tale from the dock

East of Eden (1952):

- a family saga following the pattern of biblical Cain and Abel


(Photo: BBC).

  • Author

    John (Ernst) Steinbeck. (1902 - 1968). American.
  • Work

    Novelist. Short story writer. Nobel Prize Winner (1962). Author of The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
  • Genres

    Naturalism. Social novel. Local colour.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past"?

From The Grapes of Wrath (1939).


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