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John Steinbeck: A Biography
by Jay Parini
Born in a small town in northern California in 1902, Steinbeck refused from the outset to fit himself to any mold, digging ditches and washing dishes while intermittently attending Stanford University. Failing to take a degree, he struggled for more than a decade to establish himself as a writer, always putting his work first. Eventually he enjoyed an extraordinary period ...more
Hardcover, 614 pages
Published March 28th 1994 by Heinemann
(first published 1994)
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This has given me everything I could have wanted from a biography of Steinbeck. In clear and accessible prose, Parini sets out Steinbeck's family and personal history and an analysis of the writer's various works in context. In some senses, the book is also a social history of the US in the first 2/3 of the 20th century, as it traces Steinbeck's relationship with his favourite subject, the American people. The Steinbeck of Parini’s biography is the Steinbeck I imagine from the relatively few of ...more
Ed Ricketts influenced Steinbeck by introducing him to the works of William E Ritter and John Elof Boodin and J.S. HAldane. The thought that "the living body and its physiological environment form an organic whole, the parts of which cannot be separate from one another ( cannot be understood in separation from one another." Steinbeck's thesis is that man in groups, like all units made up of individual parts, appear to connect to a larger spirit or will that exists somewhere beyond individual res ...more
Neither hagiography not hate, Parini's biography is an even-handed life in extremely readable prose, that situates the books within the life. Parini is a sympathetic reader of Steinbeck's work who nevertheless has his eyes wide open to the excesses and faults that marred even the best of Steinbeck's novels. Because Parini avoids the beatification of Steinbeck's best work (Grapes of Wrath), he is free as well to avoid the excessive overreaction many critics lavished on the later writing. This jud ...more
I have been a fan of Steinbeck's for a long time. I've read most of his novels, but never a bio. I was instantly surprised he was from Salinas, the town ot "East of Eden." Steinbeck led me to Zola, where I discovered Naturalism, a genre I have tried to read much about, but still have more to learn. I was not disappointed. Parini did a thorough job on Steinbeck. I was surprised the critics were so harsh. I never suspected he was so depressed with his reviews. His writing, to me, is superb! Good b ...more
Fabulous read. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and after reading this book my admiration has not been diminished. Sure he had issues but don't we all. He felt passionately about America and the less fortunate and was so eloquent in writing about their lives. There is no other author that I have re-read as frequently as John Steinbeck. I just wish more high schools would use his books.
This is an amazing biography! One of the best I have read. Steinbeck was an interseting man. I did not know that he had been a reporter in Vietnam. He so loved the whole Salinas Valley and Monteray and Carmel, CA. His writing showed how much he loved the area. He loved to travel and he loved to meet people. If you are a fan of his novels, you shoud definitly read this book. Great book!!
The best of Parini's three biographical works. Steinbeck is not the man I thought he was ... Parini set me straight. Parini's research is meticulous, his prose is sharp, insightful, and well tuned to the subject matter. Steinbeck is a worthy subject for Parini.
Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.More about Jay Parini...