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John Steinbeck : Novels and Stories, 1932-1937 : The Pastures of Heaven / To a God Unknown / Tortilla Flat / In Dubious Battle / Of Mice and Men (Library of America) Hardcover – September 1, 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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  • John Steinbeck : Novels and Stories, 1932-1937 : The Pastures of Heaven / To a God Unknown / Tortilla Flat / In Dubious Battle / Of Mice and Men (Library of America)
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  • Steinbeck Novels 1942-1952: The Moon Is Down / Cannery Row / The Pearl / East of Eden (Library of America)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Deep down it's mine, right to the center of the world", says a Salinas Valley farmer about his land in John Steinbeck's To a God Unknown, and Steinbeck the writer could have said the same. From the very start of his career he evoked the landscapes and people of central California with lyrical intensity and unflinching frankness. Through his intimate rendering of that place and those people, he expressed his abiding concerns: community, social justice, and the elemental connection between nature and human society. Here for the first time in one volume are Steinbeck's early California writings. In prose that blends the vernacular and the incantatory, the local and the mythic, these five works chart Steinbeck's evolution into one of the greatest and most enduringly popular of American novelists. The Pastures of Heaven (1932), a collection of interrelated stories, delineates the troubled inner lives and sometimes disastrous fates of families living in a seemingly tranquil California valley. The surface realism of Steinbeck's first mature work is enriched by hints of uncanny forces at work beneath. A sense of primeval magic dominates To a God Unknown (1933), as a California farmer reverts to pagan nature worship and begins a tortuous journey toward catastrophe and ultimate understanding. Steinbeck's sympathetic depiction of the raffish paisanos of Tortilla Flat (1935), a ramshackle district above Monterey, first won him popular attention. The Flat's tenderhearted, resourceful, mildly corrupt, ever-optimistic characters are a triumph of life-affirming humor. In Dubious Battle (1936) plunges into the political struggle of the 1930s, painting a vigorous fresco of a migrant fruit-picker'sstrike. Anticipating the collective portraiture of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck poignantly traces the surges and shifts of group behavior. With Of Mice and Men (1937), Steinbeck secured his status as one of the most influential American writers. Lenny and George, itinerant farmhands held together in the face of deprivation only by the frailest of dreams, have long since passed into American mythology. This novel, which Steinbeck called "such a simple little thing", is now recognized as a masterpiece of concentrated emotional power.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 72)
  • Hardcover: 909 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; 1st edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011017
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This volume contains some of the earlier works of John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was a master of the English language and had the talent of using the least amount of words to convey the greatest amount of emotions. His stories are moving without being cheap. He is compassionate and had keen insight into his characters and the world at large.
Reviewing each story that appears in this volume is beyond the scope of this review, and you should check out that various titles individually. I will just say a few words about the collection in general. Steinbeck's earlier works are, in my opinion, better than his later, more ambitious works. While his later works can be viewed as some sort of social criticism, these earlier works are simply his personal salute to human nature. Steinbeck knew a basic truth about writing - if you want to write a great book, before you have a great theme, make sure you have great characters, and the rest will follow.
Steinbeck is both profound and very accessible at the same time, which I think is the trademark of a great author. He wrote for ordinary people (unlike, say, Joyce), and at the same time his works are complex enough to be appreciated by scholars. Whatever group you belong to, you will not regret reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a big Steinbeck fan for a long time now, and I have found the ultimate collection of his works in this book. It is perfect for the long time fan as well as the beginner. The long time fans will appreciate the collection as classic Steinbeck, whereas the newcomers can get aquainted with his works. From "The Patures of Heaven" to "Of Mice and Men", you get five different tales, and a good look at the range of Steinbecks abilities. With "In Dubious Battle" you can get a taste of things to come in "The Grapes of Wrath." From "To a God Unknown" you get a good look at Steinbecks religious studies. In all five tales, you clearly see the tremendous influence that California's Salinas Valley has had on his work. All I can say is that it is a must have for any library, or just for anyone that's interested in Steinbeck.
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By A Customer on February 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I read chapter 6 of "The Pastures of Heaven" when I was a high school student. Since then, after thousands of short stories, I still find myself rereading Junius Maltby's story at least once a month. As part of the 'novel' it is the gravitational center. No one (Nabakov, Munro, Gallant) has ever achieved a short story with so much power. However, I still haven't figured out why?
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Format: Hardcover
This wonderful novella tells the ineffably sad tale of two itinerant farm laborers in Depression California. George Milton is a small wiry man, his traveling companion, Lennie Small, is a giant, but a simpleton. The two travel from farm to farm, one step ahead of trouble as Lennie's incredible strength and feeble brain continually land them in trouble. Other farm hands are struck by the rarity of finding such men traveling as partners, but Lennie and George have a dream, a dream of a better life. As soon as they can raise $600 they can buy a farm and be their own bosses and Lennie will get to raise the rabbits that he loves, but has a tendency to accidentally crush. Unfortunately, trouble awaits at the farm where they are headed. The ranch owner's son, Curley, can't control his new bride who has "the eye" or his own temper which flares up whenever she starts flirting with the hired hands.
This is one of those books you had to read in 9th grade, largely because it was by a famous author and it's short enough that teachers figure students might actually finish it. If you haven't read it since, give it another try. The relationship between George and Lennie is one of the most beautiful, and oft imitated, in all of literature and the themes of love, friendship, loyalty, courage and the dream of a better life are both timeless and compelling.
GRADE: A+
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Steinbecks' novels and stories. This book arrived early and very well packaged. Hard-bound with a flap cover to protect it, as well. You learn to appreciate back in the days where our fellow Americans live. Also, Speak Tagalog, A Basic Primer book by Juanita de Guzman Gutierrez on sale at Amazon will make you learn Tagalog the easy and quick way. Four other kids' books on sale at Amazon by Gutierrez are The Blessed One, The Just One, Full of Grace, Chosen You Forever will make your child love to read. Anyone of these books or all of them are great o have in your library and with you anywhere you go. Enjoy them all at Amazon/
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By Rod McHugh on November 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's Steinbeck; come on! This volume contains two really familiar novels in it, Tortilla Flat and Of Mice and Men that should interest the average reader of the best American Writer of the Twentieth Century, but it also includes three that are perhaps not as well known and yet very much worth the read. My favorite of those three is The Pastures of Heaven, set in the Carmel Valley along time ago prior to palatial hotels and spas corrupting the beautiful northern coast of California. It's Steinbeck! Need I say more?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read most of these writings in the past, going back to high school in the 1940s, but I need to read them again. Good writing does not wither and die, but is burnished by the years. Steinbeck is more readable than either Faulkner or Hemingway and is proof that obscureness is not equal to genius. His sense of humor, his understanding of our culture, and his unwavering sense of moral integrity make him one of the greatest writers our country has produced.
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