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Log from the Sea of Cortez (Penguin Modern Classics)

84 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0141186078
ISBN-10: 0141186070
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nobel-Prize winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. His complete works will be available in Penguin Modern Classics.


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186078
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,920,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Steinbeck (1902-1968), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, achieved popular success in 1935 when he published Tortilla Flat. He went on to write more than twenty-five novels, including The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 134 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on September 8, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Steinbeck had a high interest in marine biology, one that helped forge an extraordinary friendship with Ed Ricketts in the 1930s. Ricketts, the model for Doc in CANNERY ROW, was a professional biologist living in Monterey. He proposed an exploration of the Gulf of California and in the spring of 1940 he and Steinbeck set sail on a rented boat with a colorful crew that should have suggested a sea novel along the lines of CANNERY ROW and TORTILLA FLAT. The original result from this trip was the book THE SEA OF CORTEZ, which included the "log" fashioned by Steinbeck and an extensive inventory of the scientific information collected. It was published in the fall of 1941 and promptly forgotten when Pearl Harbor was struck. A decade later, the scientific catalogue was removed and Steinbeck added another section, a moving and often hilarious appreciation of his friend Ed Ricketts. The title became THE LOG FROM THE SEA OF CORTEZ and that's what we have here.
This is a great book for the beach, where I read it. It is filled with the imagery of a warm coastal area. It is several things, really: a book filled with the wonder and scientific knowledge of marine life, a how-to (and sometimes how-not-to) guide for collecting specimens, a travelogue that captures the wilderness communities of Baja California in its time, and an often hilarious account of staying amused at sea with the likes of a crew with names like Tony, Tex, Sparky and Tiny. Steinbeck also takes the occasion to explore his own philosophy as inspired by their studies. Especially interesting is his Easter Day entry, in which he defines and explores at length what he calls "teleological" and "non-teleological" thinking. He gives us much to think about, and does so in clear, fluent prose.
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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful By John Anderson on June 26, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the book that really "turned me around" on Steinbeck. I had been forced to read RED PONY & THE PEARL in High School & while I acknowledged Steinbeck's ability I found his subjects unbearably depressing. LOG FROM THE SEA OF CORTEZ showed me another, funnier, more thoughtful, and more engaging Steibeck that then lead me to CANNERY ROW etc. This is the so-called Narrative Portion of a much longer guidebook co-authored by Steinbeck & Ed Ricketts that was simply called SEA OF CORTEZ and includes both illustrations and keys to the marine intertidal of Baja. The longer version is alas now long out of print & a real collectors item. LOG it turns out is a mixture of an actual travel log as Ricketts, Steinbeck & the crew of the Western Flyer wander in and out of the coves on the eastern side of the Baja peninsula, and also some philosophical essays by Ricketts that I gather actually pre-date th Cortez trip. I have frequently assigned the Easter Sunday chapter to my students as an marvellous discourse on science & scientists, but in fact the whole book is just that -we get a real sense of the joys & follys of field ecology & a wonderful look at an amazing piece of country before it was "discovered" and at least in part spoiled. The book is like a wonderful conversation with two very very smart & funny people & one comes away having learned a great deal & wishing one could have gone along on the original trip.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By derek elder on January 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like many people of my age (45) I read 'Grapes of Wrath' and 'Cannery Row' as schoolbooks. Steinbeck was 'just' another modern author, one of many in the curriculum, although I enjoyed the writing more than that of some other authors. Thirty years later, I am sitting in Crete, in my favourite town, reading a worn Penguin paperback of 'The Log from the Sea of Cortez'. I bought it for pennies in a charity shop just before leaving for Greece, more out of curiousity than anything else. It is a cliche, but I was captivated. Steinbeck's use of English and his powers to describe a scene and circumstances, with tight narrative, are an object-lesson for would be writers. Since reading about the expedition, I have returned, belatedly, to one of the best authors of the twentieth century. Beware, it is fashionable to reduce Steinbeck to a social commentator whose later work was poorly conceived. Don't believe the hype. This book will take you to a place that no longer exists outside its pages, and it is a glorious description of two friends doing something just because they could. That's all folks!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Joseph H Pierre on May 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book while preparing to follow the footsteps of Steinbeck and Ricketts to the Sea of Cortez (the Gulf of California).

I was living, at the time, in 'Steinbeck Country,' Monterey, California--where Ed 'Doc' Ricketts kept his lab (referred to in "Cannery Row.").

In this book, "The Log From the Sea of Cortez," Steinbeck sheds his fiction-writer persona, and regales his readers with the story of his trip, which Ricketts initiated for scientific purposes.

The thing that interested me the most, aside from the descriptive passages about the area in question, was the juxtaposition of Ed Rickett's pragmatism and Steinbeck's unabashed idealism and populism. Steinbeck comes across as a flaming socialist--not too surprising, considering "The Grapes of Wrath" and some of his other works.

The friendship of these two men, despite the radical differences in their philosophies, is intriguing.

If you are a fan of Steinbeck's fiction, this book will give you more insight into his character and philosophy than any of his other books save, perhaps, "Travels With Charlie," which came much later.
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