- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140144188
- ISBN-13: 978-0140144185
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters Reprint Edition
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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 are available in Penguin Modern Classics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was hoping that the journal, addressed to his good friend and editor Pascal Covici, would reveal much about Steinbeck the writer and the man.
However, there is very little of the former except repeated brief accounts of the self-doubt and ups and downs a writer endures while creating a long and complex piece of literature. There are only hints of the technical or mental processes involved his writing.
And the same applies to autobiographical information about this period of his life. There is a lot of the trivia of daily life without the real depth of observation and feeling that is shown in other books of his letters.
He was a master at letter writing, and to find and know the real John Steinbeck, I strongly suggest "Steinbeck: A Life in Letters" edited by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten.
On the one hand, JOURNAL OF A NOVEL is instructive in how to use journaling to order one's demons, to focus and forge ahead. More important, it brings the reader right up to the man, and Steinbeck is a fascinating person to know. At age 48 when he produced this, he is twice divorced, happily remarried a third time, engaged in fatherhood and transplanted to New York. He is a whittler, a tinkerer, an inventor. His credo is, why pay someone to do something badly that he can do just as badly himself. He maintains an active family, professional and social life that he chattily reports and offers some prescient observations on the Marshall Plan and MacArthur. He is not without his depressive cycles, but at this point in his life he is more understanding of them and never lets them interfere with his work. His resolve is extraordinary.
It is especially rich to read this following WORKING DAYS, the journal he kept as he wrote THE GRAPES OF WRATH. You get a sense of personal growth and a fuller sense of the middle of the 20th century through his eyes.
If you have ever wondered what the dedication in East of Eden means (or what Steinbeck originally called the book) this is the place to find it. Peek into the relationship between a great writer and his publisher. Marvel as he discusses the problems that come up from day to day during the process of writing (including finding the right kind of pencil).
This book provides a unique insight into what it must be like to live with genius.
Starting in the days leading up to the actual writing, Steinbeck shares his hopes for his book, his concerns for his children, and his thoughts about critics. As he gets deeper into the writing process, we see how the working title changed from "The Salinas Valley" to "My Valley" to "East of Eden." We smile as he shares his newest inventions and talks about how inventors are seen as crazy--until they make some money at it. We also get insights into the naming of his characters, the themes stemming from the book of Genesis and the story of Cain and Abel, and the ways his own family history overlapped those biblical stories.
All in all, it's a highly readable and enjoyable collection for those who are Steinbeck fans, particularly those like me who love "East of Eden," and also for those who like to write fiction. He gives many peeks at the creative mindset and the practical matters that are part of the writing process. I laughed, smiled, dog-eared pages, and turned nostalgic as I read through this gem of a journal.