Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “John Steinbeck: A Biography” as Want to Read:
John Steinbeck: A Biography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

John Steinbeck: A Biography

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  118 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about John Steinbeck, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about John Steinbeck

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 11, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it

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
Feb 24, 2016 Stasha rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2012 Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Thomas Walsh
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
Kristin Huston
Sep 17, 2012 Kristin Huston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 16, 2009 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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!!
May 19, 2009 Yeti rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 19, 2008 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
fascinating biography--have been in a steinbeck phase lately--and parini does a wonderful job of both telling his life and exploring his writing.
Logann Merritt
Logann Merritt rated it really liked it
Dec 14, 2016
Steven rated it it was amazing
Feb 18, 2010
Jim wagner
Jim wagner rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2016
Constantine Alexander
Constantine Alexander rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2013
Athena Papadopoulou
Athena Papadopoulou rated it liked it
Apr 18, 2013
Timmy rated it liked it
Mar 21, 2009
Jeremy Walker
Jeremy Walker rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2017
Linda rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2012
allison rated it really liked it
Aug 28, 2012
Michele E.
Michele E. rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2017
Jessica P Lopez
Jessica P Lopez rated it it was amazing
Oct 18, 2015
Amanda Gjefle
Amanda Gjefle rated it liked it
Feb 15, 2015
David rated it really liked it
May 16, 2013
Jeanne rated it really liked it
Jun 24, 2013
Keren Davies
Keren Davies rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2014
Lucas_Deschain rated it liked it
Oct 29, 2012
Robert Allen
Robert Allen rated it it was amazing
Nov 06, 2015
Marlee Baldridge
Marlee Baldridge rated it it was amazing
Mar 19, 2016
Dave rated it really liked it
Feb 19, 2012
Brian rated it really liked it
Jan 06, 2014
Amy rated it it was amazing
Jan 31, 2010
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Hemingway
  • John Steinbeck, Writer
  • Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood
  • Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath
  • Mozart: A Cultural Biography
  • Steinbeck: A Life in Letters
  • James Joyce: A Biography
  • Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World
  • The Roosevelt Women: A Portrait In Five Generations
  • Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long
  • Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities
  • Hemingway: The Paris Years
  • The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury (P.S.)
  • Tolstoy: A Russian Life
  • Living Well Is the Best Revenge (Modern Library)
  • Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, 1882-1940
  • American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
  • Eisenhower: The White House Years
Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.
More about Jay Parini...

Share This Book