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Of Mice and Men Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1993
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About the Author
John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
Top customer reviews
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My book is from The Viking Press. It contains six short novels. They are mostly chronological in the order that John Steinbeck published them. The one exception is that the first short novel in the book is "Tortilla Flat". The second is "The Red Pony". These were composed, I think, in the opposite order. Mr. Jackson explains this. These are followed by "Of Mice and Men", "The Moon Is Down", "Cannery Row", and "The Pearl".
I read "The Red Pony First". There is a lot in "The Red Pony" which reminds me "Of Mice and Men". It is episodic. The first episode is "The Gift", which is about a child Jody, and his pony. It is beautiful, poignant, and ultimately painful. The second episode is "The Great Mountains". It actually is about a visitor to the same ranch that is the setting for first story. Jody and his family are in this story, along with an elderly visitor. The next episode is "The Promise" which is, more or less, a sequel to the first story. It is somewhat painful. The last episode is "The Leader of The People" which is a bittersweet story about a senior citizen member of the same family at the ranch. It is my personal favorite episode.
I completely enjoyed this novella "Of Mice And Men". It is a relatively short work. It was written in 1937, before The Grapes of Wrath. I had previously read The Grapes of Wrath. I enjoyed this book more. I have very little formal education in regard to literature. So my opinion may be very faulty. Anyway, I felt this work was a more artistic work than The Grapes of Wrath.
This work reminded me more of Ermest Hemingway. I was very impressed. As is common with many shorter works, the author leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The reader is left to speculate why certain issues develope and are resolved in certain manners. I felt all the aspects of the relationship between George and Lenny were slightly unclear. The book ended with me wishing I knew more about George. My guess is that is intentional on the part of Mr. Steinbeck.
I would like to note that I purchased this "Of Mice and Men" on Kindle and at the same time purchased the audiobook narrated by Gary Sinise. I felt Mr. Sinise was really excellent and I highly recommend the audiobook version as read by Mr. Sinise. Mr. Sinise really added to the pleasure of the reading experience with his very professional performance.
As the father of a son with autism, I identified with George and Lenny’s lopsided relationship, especially George’s caregiver stress. Sometimes it’s hard keeping someone you love from hurting himself or herself … or someone else.
Dear, sweet Lenny — how can you not sympathize with his childlike innocence and eagerness? Everyone in Of Mice and Men is affected by Lenny’s simple-minded focus — he just wants to cuddle with soft, fuzzy rabbits. People let their guard down around Lenny, sharing personal dreams with him. George wants his own piece of land. Candy wants his hand and youth back. Crooks wants a straight back and the same treatment as the white men he works alongside. Even Curly’s slutty wife opens up — she just wants someone to love her; she needs a friend. Lenny lets them know it’s okay to dream; you can live off the fumes of pipe dreams if you have to … and you often do.
Loneliness permeates this novel. There is such longing, such sorrow among these broken misfit characters. Billy Joel says we’re sharing a drink we call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone, while the late great Charles Bukowski suggests you get so alone sometimes that it all makes sense. We’re all connected on a basic human level, yet we remain mysteries to each other, walled up inside our own heads.
Steinbeck said he wanted to write a novel that could be played from its lines, or a play that could be read like a novel. Of Mice and Men is pretty damn close to perfect that way. It’s a lean, mean, dialogue-driven machine. This novel is as socially relevant today as it was when it was published in 1937 — a snapshot of a desperate working class, struggling to make ends meet amidst a shrinking job market.
According to literary scholar Thomas Scarseth, "in true great literature, the pain of Life is transmuted into the beauty of Art." Experience Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men for yourself, and let the transmutation begin!
I also understand why this book has been challenged so many times on the secondary level. I had an understanding teacher who led us read whatever she thought would teach us something besides the right wing jingoistic view of U.S. History that was then in vogue. Thanks Mrs.Hunt.
Most recent customer reviews
While somewhat slow, this book sheds new light on friendship, dreams, and loneliness.