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To a God Unknown

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  8,148 ratings  ·  606 reviews
While fulfilling his dead father's dream of creating a prosperous farm in California, Joseph Wayne comes to believe that a magnificent tree on the farm embodies his father's spirit. His brothers and their families share in Joseph's prosperity and the farm flourishes - until one brother, scared by Joseph's pagan belief, kills the tree and brings disease and famine on the fa ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 30th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1933)
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Alison Smallwood A young man leaves the family farm to start out on his own in California and is soon joined by his siblings and their families due to the fertile…moreA young man leaves the family farm to start out on his own in California and is soon joined by his siblings and their families due to the fertile soils. He develops a spiritual attachment to the land and practises unusual rituals to keep the land happy and prosperous. His catholic brother is very concerned about these pagan practises, believing it to be very dangerous. The land does bless him abundantly but also appears to be cursed after a series of tragic events. The family needs to decide whether to stay or leave.(less)

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3.93  · 
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 ·  8,148 ratings  ·  606 reviews

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Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dolors by: My yearning for a warm day on the Monterey bay
Shelves: read-in-2017
Steinbeck’s second novella is more than the sum of words that composes it.
On the surface, a story of a young man called Joseph Wayne who leaves his homeland in Vermont to establish his own farm in Our Lady of the Valley, California.
Underneath, a parable that is a converging point between pagan rites, Greek myths and the Old Testament, rich with allegorical meaning and thought-provoking interpretations.

The lush, fertile valley that Joseph selects to start a family and a cluster of farms with hi
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
“In a dry year all signs fail.”

There is little doubt that the migrants to the Salinas Valley of central California around the turn of the 20th century thought they had arrived in Paradise - like the Spanish and native settlers before them. This is why Joseph and his brothers quit their inhospitable Vermont. The climate was perfect. The resources and beauty abundant. The soil was fecund and waiting for seed. And the available technology was just right to exploit it all.

But the beautiful land has
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle

Back in 2012 I embarked on a project of reading my way through the works of John Steinbeck. Looking back on it, I should have developed a bit more of a plan: reading the novels in chronological order probably would have appealed to my Virgo tendencies. As it is, I started with Cannery Row, moved on to The Grapes of Wrath and then just read whatever came my way. Having finished To a God Unknown, I now only have one more novel– Steinbeck’s first, Cup of Gold – and a couple of volumes of non-fictio
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Steinbeck impõe-me cada vez mais respeito. Voltei atrás, a relembrar o que já li dele, e a verdade é que todos se destacam pela intensidade das personagens e das histórias. Histórias que nos arrastam desde o início numa torrente de fatalidade irremediável, num prenúncio nem sempre claro, mas indubitavelmente presente e ao qual não escapamos. E por mais que a dor nos consuma, por mais que desejemos um outro desenrolar, sabemos que aquele é o desenlace perfeito - quebra-nos o coração, mas não ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
این کتاب رو اولین بار شش سال پیش خوندم و تنها چیزی که ازش یادم مونده بود غم سنگین عجیبی بود و همذات پنداری شدید با شخصیت اصلی.
امروز که میرفتم چند تا بسته پست کنم با خودم برداشتمش که اگه صف طولانی شد یک دور دیگه بخونمش تا بتونم تصمیم بگیرم که آیا این کتاب همراه من می مونه یا نه.
اگه این قسمت که آقای گرامی بغل دستی من که دماغشون توی کتاب بنده بود و یک بار هم درخواست کرد که آرومتر ورق بزنم رو نادیده بگیریم, قسمت جالبش برام دوباره همون حس های چند سال پیش بود. همون غم سنگین عجیب. همون تاثر شدید. یه مل
(review in English below)

4 estrelas e meia!

Nem sei bem que diga, fiquei um bocado abananada por esta história, duma intensidade que parece atravessar décadas e continentes, transmitida através duma escrita superior, incisiva e sem floreados, mas com uma sensibilidade que me surpreendeu.

A história é excelente, tal como os personagens e as descrições dos ambientes; é perceptível que o autor conheceu aqueles locais, mas ilustrá-los desta forma não é para qualquer um.

Foi o meu primeiro Steinbeck
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nick, Teri
Continuing in my quest to read all of Steinbeck...

Wow, this book affected me more than any other book in a long while. First, Steinbeck's writing is pure beauty. Sometimes I stop and savor each sentence, particularly in descriptive passages, and the perfection with which he writes is unbelievable.
Like the protagonist, Joseph, I love and feel connected to nature in a deep and a strong way. I also have a strong sense of the sacred that permeates my everyday experiences; Joseph seems always distrac
«Non so se ci siano uomini nati al di fuori della natura umana, o se alcuni uomini siano tanto umani da far sembrare irreali gli altri. Forse un semidio vive di tanto in tanto sulla terra.»

Sicuramente Steinbeck conosceva bene la Bibbia, molto meglio di me che pure vado a messa tutte le domeniche.
La sua produzione o perlomeno quello che io ho letto della sua produzione letteraria, sin qui cinque opere, ne è pervasa; che si tratti dell'esodo dei contadini di Furore che partono in massa verso la te
Célia Loureiro

“To a God Unknown” is my first read by Steinbeck. I owned an old edition of The Grapes of Wrath, but I remember start reading it and being lost in so much description. Description is, precisely, what worked so well in this book. The title is a marvel, and the book revolves around its symbology with admirable grace. The script is rather simple: land in the West Coast is being given away and Joseph Wayne, who always dreamt of possessing something of his own, says goodbye to his dying father and
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I do not know whether there are men born outside humanity, or whether some men are so human as to make others seem unreal. Perhaps a godling lives on earth now and then...I tell you this man is not a man, unless he is all men."

4.5 stars. This book has so much symbolism and layers of meaning that I will probably read it again to try to absorb everything. I can't believe this was one of the first books Steinbeck wrote; it seems like something written at the end of a writer's career. It is rich an
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Μια από τις καλύτερες εκδόσεις που συνάντησα ποτέ και μια άψογη μετάφραση του Κοσμά Πολίτη. Ένα συλλεκτικό παλαιό βιβλίο που πραγματικά αξίζει να το έχει κανείς στη βιβλιοθήκη του. Πολύ ωραία η εισαγωγή του Αντώνη Σαμαράκη και τα σκίτσα στην αρχή του κάθε κεφαλαίου δίνουν μια ταξιδιάρικη ώθηση στη φαντασία του αναγνώστη. Και για όσους ενδιαφέρονται για τον Steinbeck, υπάρχει στο τέλος μια υπέροχη ιστορική αναδρομή στους προγόνους του, στη ζωή και στο έργο του, καθώς και μια συλλογή από σπάνιο φω ...more
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
“Everything seems to work with a recurring rhythm except life. There is only one birth and only one death. Nothing else is like that.”
― John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown


An early Steinbeck filled with amazing biblical, pagan, and Greek images. The novel sketches the relationship between Joseph and his efforts homesteading out West with his family. It is a story of four brothers who move from the East (Vermont) to the West (California) to work the land and raise cattle.

Joseph Wayne isn't the olde
Δε με ενθουσίασε αλλά δε με άφησε και αδιάφορο. Κατά τη γνώμη μου δε μένει όπως πχ Τα σταφύλια της οργής. Διαβάζεται όμως εύκολα και ευχάριστα, έχει πλοκή και ανατροπές. Ο τίτλος του βιβλίου δε κατάλαβα που ακριβώς αναφέρεται, ίσως στο ότι πολλά σημεία του βιβλίου έχουν να κάνουν με την πίστη των ανθρώπων σε ότι νομίζουν πχ ένα δέντρο, έναν βράχο ή σε μια δύναμη που ονομάζουν Θεό και Τον πιστεύουν με πάθος.
Κατά σύμπτωση είδα την περίοδο που το διάβαζα ένα ντοκιμαντέρ του NatGeo σχετικά με τις π
Lena Bokogianni
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Το διάβασα από μια παλιά, πανέμορφη, βιβλιοδετημένη έκδοση (εκδόσεις Κοράλλι) του 1968. Έχοντας διαβάσει το Άνθρωποι και Ποντίκια, το Σε έναν άγνωστο θεό ήταν λίγο κατώτερο των προσδοκιών μου (αλλά καλύτερο από το Δρόμο με τις φάμπρικες, αν θέλω να τα κατατάξω κάπως).

Ο Τζόζεφ λατρεύει τη γη, τη φύση και τη ζωή που γεννάται από αυτή. Η λατρεία του φτάνει σε σημείο παγανισμού, που εγείρει αντιδράσεις από τον θρήσκο αδερφό και φόβο από τους υπόλοιπους οικείους. Ο Τζόζεφ πιάνει στα χέρια του μ
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Steinbeck wrote a number of California novels. The early ones feature lyrical descriptive prose of the land, whether of the Salinas Valley or the Pacific Coast. Clearly Steinbeck loved the area, had a real passion for the valleys, the vegetation, the animals and the people who lived there. But while almost all of his other California novels that focused on the land and the people who lived on it were gently affectionate, To A God Unknown is a very different bird. The title is taken from an adapt ...more
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, classics
Pensei que me fosse mais fácil escrever sobre este livro, mas talvez noutra altura. Por enquanto quero só dizer que foi uma experiência bastante enriquecedora e que tenciono, quando tiver mais disponibilidade, ler outras obras do autor. Muito, muito recomendado.
Michael Canoeist
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
An odd, often clumsy, but also fearless book. To a God Unknown is John Steinbeck's second novel, following a historical romance. I would not have guessed, in reading its first half, that I would end up giving it a 4-star rating, but its insistence on its unusual pantheistic themes, coupled with Steinbeck's tremendous evocation of the interior, unsung part of the California landscape's beauties and terrors, combined for powerful effect. The reader must be prepared for unrealistic dialogue -- Stei ...more
May 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mostly just Steinbeck fans
I opened this book for the first time - one of the few Steinbeck novels I had not yet read - shortly after completing my own first attempt at writing a novel. The little book is one of Steinbeck's earliest published works and, interestingly enough, the one that took him the longest to complete. It was in this context that I found the book most provoking: myself an aspiring writer, it was interesting to witness part of the development of one of my favorite novelists. Although not yet as strong an ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I'll call this creepy Steinbeck. The detached writing style added a sinister element to these common place events and conversations. This story also took dark turns at almost every chance it got. I don't really understand Steinbeck's intent for this book, but I think I'd be a good read to kick off October. Just play creepy music in the background and nearly all the scenes will take on a menacing tone.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nu tot ce este bun este în totalitate bun și nu tot ce este rău este în totalitate rău. Acesta este sentimentul pe care mi l-a lăsat această carte încărcată de simboluri și descrieri care m-au acaparat cu totul în poveste.

“Nu-i nici un blestemat de pas între dispreț și iubire.”
Mike Frost
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Although it runs only 240 pages (compare that to East of Eden at 601 pages), To a God Unknown was the project which took Steinbeck the longest to complete. It was only his second full-length novel, and he worked on it over a period of five years, nearly scrapping it on more than one occasion. And despite all of his revisions and efforts he just did not succeed in making it a great piece of literature.

Now don't get me wrong -- it is still in an entirely different league than the pulpy kind of gar
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Книгата на Джон Стайнбек „To a God unknown“ (Към един незнаен бог) беше втората книга прочетена по препоръка на приятел. И втората книга на Стайнбек, която въобще чета.

Първата ми среща с автора беше чрез „За мишките и хората“, която ме остави с доста постни впечатления и въобще не ми допадна. Ако не беше препоръката най-вероятно въобще нямаше да посегна отново към Стайнбек, но сега не съжалявам.

Историята сама по себе си не блести с оригиналност – Джоузеф Уейн напуска бащиния дом и заминава за да
Luís Miguel
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Desconhecido, mas não irreconhecível. O segundo romance de Steinbeck tem os seus aspectos mais crus, mas a constante tensão que irradia demonstra arte. A própria sinopse é reveladora de desgraça: Joseph obtém a benção do pai para se mudar para um vale na Califórnia onde, após a morte do patriarca, desloca os seus três irmãos. No novo rancho da família, Joseph acredita que o espírito do pai continua vivo, através de uma árvore. Contrariado pela visão pagã de Joseph, o irmão Burton "mata" a árvore ...more
Радостина Даскалова
Много трудно прочетох тази книга, въпреки че изобщо не е обемна. За съжаление, периодът беше такъв. Подхванах я в ужасен дефицит на свободно време и я четох с голяма мъка, имаше дни, в които успявах да чета "гигантски" пет-шест страници. Четях и на телефона, в парка, докато детето поиграе, а вниманието ми беше разпределено и на много други места. Най-лошото, според психолозите - разхвърлянето на вниманието, така човек се уморява много повече, отколкото когато се съсредоточи върху едно-единствено ...more
Speravo in un'altra gemma della produzione di Steinbeck, ma sono stato parzialmente deluso. Ci sono molte (troppe?) belle descrizioni della natura, occupano forse la metà del libro e purtroppo vanno a scapito della storia e dei personaggi. Anche negli altri Steinbeck che ho letto la natura è sempre presente, ma è funzionale alle vite dei personaggi. In questo, al contrario, sembra che i personaggi siano accessori dell'ambiente. Il protagonista, Joseph, è un uomo quasi biblico che basa tutte le s ...more
Jorge Cienfuegos
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tiene todos los elementos que luego van a marcar la obra de Steinbeck: la importancia de la tierra, sequías, familias humildes luchando por salir adelante, migraciones, el oeste, misticismo y mucha simbología bíblica. La parte final me ha parecido un poco árida, y en general toda la novela se centra más en transmitir la idea y abandona un poco a los personajes, que están lejos de ser tan entrañables como otras familias steinbeckianas. Aun así, la he disfrutado mucho, y es interesante comparar es ...more
Reza Mardani
کارای اشتاین بک موضوع های جالب و خاصی داره، فقط تنها مشکل من باهاش توصیف های زیاد از حدشه، این کتاب اگر جای ۳۰۰ صفحه، ۱۰۰ صفحه بود بی نظیر میشد.
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A mystical tale of course, that I've been wanting to read for a while. It exactly shows Steinbeck growing into a mature and accomplished novelist...
Simona Bartolotta
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900, in-italian
"Vi dico che quell'uomo non è un uomo, a meno che non sia tutti gli uomini in uno. La forza, la resistenza, il lungo e incespicante pensiero di tutti gli uomini e anche tutta la gioia e tutta la sofferenza che in essi si cancellano a vicenda senza uscirne. E' tutto questo, è il ricettacolo di almeno un frammento d'ogni anima umana, e più ancora è un simbolo dell'anima della terra."

John Steinbeck è senza pari. Gli scrittori come lui sono pochi, i narratori come lui si contano sulla punta delle di
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  • Húmus
  • Roughneck
  • The Wreck
  • Internecine
  • The Long Dream
  • The Monkey Grammarian
  • Hotel Memória
  • Uma Abelha Na Chuva
  • Sinais de Fogo
  • A Queda dum Anjo
  • The Hamlet
  • Across the River and into the Trees
  • Lying With the Dead
  • O Retorno
  • Contos
  • Céu Em Fogo
  • De Profundis, Valsa Lenta
  • Desire Under the Elms & The Great God Brown
John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
“There are some times...when the love for people is strong and warm like a sorrow.” 62 likes
“Life cannot be cut off quickly. One cannot be dead until the things he changed are dead. His effect is the only evidence of his life. While there remains even a plaintive memory, a person cannot be cut off, dead. And he thought, “It’s a long slow process for a human to die. We kill a cow, and it is dead as soon as the meat is eaten, but a man’s life dies as a commotion in a still pool dies, in little waves, spreading and growing back toward stillness.” 21 likes
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