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John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings 1936-1941: The Grapes of Wrath, The Harvest Gypsies, The Long Valley, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (Library of America) Hardcover – September 1, 1996
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From Library Journal
Now here is something special. This edition of Steinbeck's 1939 epic of the Joad family is a newly edited version based on his original manuscript, typescript, and proofs. Words omitted or misconstrued by typists have been restored to the text for the first time. This volume combines fiction and nonfiction works and includes the text of the 1938 collection of short stories, The Long Valley, which contains "The Red Pony." There is also The Log from the Sea of Cortez, which is Steinbeck's account of a marine biological expedition, and The Harvest Gypsies, his investigative report on migrant workers that inspired Grapes. This corrected text edition of The Grapes of Wrath is essential for all serious American literature collections, both academic and public.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Publisher
The Library of America is an award-winning, nonprofit program dedicated to publishing America's best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. Hailed as "the most important book-publishing project in the nation's history" (Newsweek), this acclaimed series is restoring America's literary heritage in "the finest-looking, longest-lasting edition ever made" (Newsweek).
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Now onto a few words about this exceptional novel. Since John Steinbeck always wrote books re: the Great Depression, he had an ability to understand their fear on a daily basis. If Steinbeck were alive today, his novels would probably be very close to how they were over 75 years ago.
His books, especially ‘Grapes of Wrath’ dealt with racism, extreme poverty, family problems not far from the ones today. This novel was the perfect example.
The descriptive words he used in explaining their hurt, their living environment , lack of housing, etc. was spot on. I closed my eyes listening & even sometimes reading because I wanted to be there, to try and understand what the Depression years were really like..they were not ‘The Walton’s’! This was real..not knowing what tomorrow would bring for themselves or their family.
I’m so glad I decided to read and listen again...every single person must read ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and realize at one time in the 20th Century individuals were living worse than dogs & cats...and unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t sound too far from reality today.
I’ve been honored to read a masterpiece!
The Grapes of Wrath is so completely, so guturally human that it's practically impossible not to become engrossed in the life stories of the main characters. Some have complained that the characters are flat, that there is little growth. I find this only partially true. There is much to read between the lines. One who reads closely can find much growth in the characters of Ma Joad, Rose of Sharon, Tom, and even Al. Then there is the former preacher, Casy, whose growth occurred before the Joads' story even began -- but Steinbeck offers glimpses of that growth in his stories to the Joads.
This careful examination of the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and the effects of corporatism and the ensuing expansion of poverty is insightful and heart-rending. Migrant farmers find themselves picking fruit and vegetables to sell for mere pennies a day, meanwhile they are unable to even feed their own families. They watch as corporate farms burn and destroy fruit and vegetables to keep the prices high and prevent the starving from stealing the "extra." They see acre upon acre of land go unused, but they cannot even plant a few carrots because it is owned by the banks and the migrants are charged with trespassing. The "Okies," as they are called, are treated worse than animals. Families break apart and the old, sick, or very young die of malnutrition and sickness. Meanwhile, the corporate farms and banks continue to put small farms out of business and scheme to keep prices high and wages low. The stark contrast can be seen in a corporate farm owner, decked out in gold chains, wryly offering work to the desperate Joads in the midst of a strike.
I have heard it said that it is only in recent years that people are crying "class warfare." The Grapes of Wrath is a poignant example of class warfare before the term was even coined. This book is a time capsule of times passed -- and history will repeat itself if we don't learn from the lesson Steinbeck has to teach.
Too unfortunate that HS AP & Lit101 students couldn't have this well presented information a couple decades ago, when we were forced to read the book & regurgitate highfalutin claptrap.
It can be really slow at times, but be patient and try hard to FEEL this book. Picture the struggle, the desperation, the hunger. Find yourself what it would be like making that trek with the Joad's across country, then among the camps. It is so powerful and the ending will leave you feeling true pain and disappointment (not in the book, but in the very American experience many people had... and still have...).