- Series: Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (October 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780140187397
- ISBN-13: 978-0140187397
- ASIN: 0140187391
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 204 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Red Pony (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Paperback – October 1, 1994
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By the Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
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.
John Seelye was a graduate research professor of American literature at the University of Florida. He is the author of The True Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain at the Movies, Prophetic Waters: The River in Early American Literature, Beautiful Machine: Rivers and the Early Republic, Memory's Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock, and War Games: Richard Harding Davis and the New Imperialism. He also served as the consulting editor for Penguin Classics in American literature.
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While I was hoping the story would turn out differently, this is the way things happen on a farm, even today, with or without veterinarians' help. Events have a true-to-life feel, as though most of them really happened in the author's life. The style is almost poetically beautiful. A wonderful read!
This review, I suppose, is about two things. The wonderful story of Jody and his initiation into the world of death, birth, and disappointment as told by John Steinbeck, and Frank Mullers interpretation of Johns short novel. If you want to read a good story, you won't be disappointed reading John Steinbecks moving tale. If you want to hear the story, find this edition read by Frank Muller. Together, John and Frank will touch your heart and make you feel joy and loss and love and hurt.
Here in the Land of Steinbeck (Monterey, CA), the man is revered—and rightfully so. “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden” are beautiful novels that still move readers, decades after their publication. “Cannery Row” and “Tortilla Flat” are whimsical, yet poignant tales from a bygone era of my neighborhood.
As I re-read “The Red Pony” and thought about today’s middle schoolers, I found the story of Jody, the somewhat mischievous 10-year-old farm boy with stern parents, less than riveting. Granted, the themes of death and dying, maturing as a result of difficult experiences, of wanting to please parents and earn their love, are timeless and universal. Steinbeck wrote about them in a simple, yet profound way that continues to make this little book a classic at the middle school level. Nonetheless, I couldn’t get past visions of the 31-year-old Steinbeck, not yet a fully formed novelist, scribbling away and honing his skills for the great works to come.
Do I recommend it for middle schoolers? Definitely. Just don’t expect Jody Tiflin to grab their interest the way Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen do.