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To a God Unknown To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck
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“There are some times...when the love for people is strong and warm like a sorrow.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“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.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“I should have known […] I am the rain. […] I am the land […] and I am the rain. The grass will grow out of me in a little while.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“The first grave. Now we're getting someplace. Houses and children and graves, that's home, Tom. Those are the things that hold a man down.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“ لا يموت الإنسان ما دام له أثر لم يمت ”
جون شتاينبيك / ترجمة عمر ديرواي, البحث عن إله مجهول
“Rama continued: “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. Joseph has strength beyond vision of shattering, he has the calm of mountains, and his emotion is as wild and fierce and sharp as the lightning and just as reasonless as far as I can see or know. When you are away from him, try thinking of him and you’ll see what I mean. His figure will grow huge, until it tops the mountains, and his force will be like the irresistible plunging of the wind. Benjy is dead. You cannot think of Joseph dying. He is eternal. His father died, and it was not a death.” Her mouth moved helplessly, searching for words. She cried as though in pain, “I tell you this man is not a man, unless he is all men. The strength, the resistance, the long and stumbling thinking of all men, and all the joy and suffering, too, cancelling each other out and yet remaining in the contents. He is all these, a repository for a little piece of each man’s soul, and more than that, a symbol of the earth’s soul.”
Her eyes dropped and her hand withdrew. “I said a door was open.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“Yes, I’ll be glad.” And she said suddenly, “There are some times, Joseph, when the love for people is strong and warm like a sorrow.”
He looked quickly at her in astonishment at her statement of his own thought. “How did you think that, dear?”
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Because I was thinking it at that moment — and there are times when the people and the hills and the earth, all, everything except the stars, are one, and the love of them all is strong like a sadness.”
“Not the stars, then?”
“No, never the stars. The stars are always strangers — sometimes evil, but always strangers. Smell the sage, Elizabeth. It’s good to be getting home.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“I should have known,” he whispered. “I am the rain.” And yet he looked dully down the mountains of his body where the hills fell to an abyss. He felt the driving rain, and heard it whipping down, pattering on the ground. He saw his hills grow dark with moisture. Then a lancing pain shot through the heart of the world. “I am the land,” he said, “and I am the rain. The grass will grow out of me in a little while.”
And the storm thickened, and covered the world with darkness, and with the rush of waters.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“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
“He went to his own dark house and lighted the lamps and set fire in the stove. The clock wound by Elizabeth still ticked, storing in its spring the pressure of her hand, and the wool socks she had hung to dry over the stove screen were still damp. These were vital parts of Elizabeth that were not dead yet. Joseph pondered slowly over it. 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.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
tags: death
“وقع ما كنّا نعلم وقوعه ونجهل زمنه، والموت يصدمنا حتى مع علمنا بضرورة حلوله”
جون شتاينبيك / ترجمة عمر ديرواي, البحث عن إله مجهول
“The wedding was in Monterey, a sombre boding ceremony in a little Protestant chapel. The church had so often seen two ripe bodies die by the process of marriage that it seemed to celebrate a mystic double death with its ritual.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“وما أن اقترب جوزيف حتى سمع أنيناً حاداً وزعيقاً منكراً اقشعر له بدنه، وزاد اقترابه، فرأى فحل خنزير بري عظيم الجسم، أحمر اربد، تساقط الشعر عن كتفيه، كانت أنيابه معقوفة حادة وهو يمزق جسد خنزير آخر صغير، يرتعش، وينزف، ويبعث ذلك الزعيق المنكر، وفي الجانب الآخر رأى جوزيف خنزيرة وخنانيص تدك الأرض بقوائمها وهي تولي أدبارها مذعورة، وقد هالها الرعب وتملّكها الذهول من منظر الوحش الكبير مقبلاً قبل أن يفتك بشقيقها...تناول جوزيف بندقيته من مقرها في السرج ثم دكها وصوّب على جبهة الخنزير، إلا أنه ضحك، وخفض البندقية من يده بعد أن ردّ ضاغط الأمان إلى موضعه وهو يقول:
إن بين يديّ قوة هائلة، كما أنها قاتلة. ولربما كان هذا الفحل أباً لخمسين خنوصاً كما أنه يستطيع أن يكون أباً لخمسين آخرين...فلماذا أقتله؟”
جون شتاينبيك / ترجمة عمر ديرواي, البحث عن إله مجهول
“...um homem tem de ter qualquer coisa a que se ligue, qualquer coisa que ele possa estar certo de encontrar lá de manhã.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“Хората винаги вършат непозволени неща, когато са прекалено щастливи.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“Joseph saw how he could make a gesture with his arms and hands, that would sweep in and indicate and symbolize the ripe stars and the whole cup of the sky, the land, eddied with black trees, and the crested waves that were the mountains, an earth storm, frozen in the peak of its rushing, or stone breakers moving eastward with infinite slowness. Joseph wondered whether there were any words to say these things."
He said, "I like the night. It's more strong than the day.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“De bruiloft was in Monterey, een sombere, dreigende plechtigheid in een klein, Protestants kerkje. De kerk had al zo dikwijls twee rijpe lichamen zien afsterven door middel van het huwelijk, dat zij in het ritueel een mystieke, dubbele dood scheen te vieren. Jozef en Elizabeth voelden beiden de gemelijkheid van het vonnis. 'Gij zult verduren" zei de kerk; en haar muziek was een profetie zonder een sprankje zon.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“Joseph stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked upward, waiting for her to reappear. He felt a desire to open his body for her inspection, so that she could see all the hidden things in him, even the things he did not know were there.
"That would be right," he thought. "Then she would know the kind of man I am; and if she knew that she would be a part of me.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“Thank God this man has no message. Thank God he has no will to be remembered, to be believed in.” And, in sudden heresy, “else there might be a new Christ here in the West.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“The mountains sat with their feet in the sea, and the old man's house was on the knees.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“مرگ حتی هنگامی‌که میدانیم باید بیاید ما را به وحشت می‌اندازد.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“He's eating God the way a bear eats meat against the winter.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“He felt a desire to open his body for her inspection, so that she could see all the hidden things in him, even the things he did not know were there.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“The calm and the sorrow were so great that they bore down on his chest, and the loneliness was complete, a circle impenetrable.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“These were words to clothe a naked thing, and the thing is ridiculous in clothes.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“ما همه او را دوست داشتیم، اما میان محبت و تنفر فاصله اندکی وجود دارد.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“این زمین مملو از ارواح است، نه؛ ارواح سایه‌های ناتوان واقعیت هستند، آنچه اینجا زندگی می‌کند واقعی‌تر از ماست، ما بسان اشباحی از واقعیت آنیم.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“Steinbeck’s hunger, his compulsion to tell the significant stories of people situated in and on, but not apart from, this land, became one of his recognizable signatures as a novelist. In a 1932 journal (addressed privately to former Stanford roommate and close friend Carlton “Duke” Sheffield), Steinbeck noted of To a God Unknown: “The story is a parable, Duke, the story of a race, growth and death. Each figure is a population, and the stones, the trees, the muscled mountains are the world—but not the world apart from man—the world and man—the one indescribable unit man plus his environment”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“I have made up reasons, but they aren't true. I have said to myself, 'The sun is life. I give life to life'-'I make a symbol of the sun's death.' When I made these reasons I knew they weren't true.....I gave up reasons. I do this because it makes me glad. I do it because I like to.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown
“When reading this unusual novel, then, with its oddly unsettling and sometimes strained combination of Christian and pagan, sacred and profane attributes—its earthiness and surreality, violence and pastoralism, pantheism and anthropomorphism, naturalism and lyricism—it is helpful to remember that Steinbeck invested his essential self in it, which is to say, he wrote it more like an extensive poem, or extended dream sequence, than like a traditionally mimetic or realistic novel. “I have the instincts of a minstrel rather than those of a scrivener,” he informed Grove Day in late 1929. Thus, while To a God Unknown has an urgent, breathless fairy-tale quality, and is, as critic Howard Levant asserts, more “a series of detached... scenes” than “a unified... organic whole,” it is not an incoherent concoction—“a rambling and improbable history,” as Warren French calls It—that flies in the face of all sensible literary convention. During its long gestation through different versions and multiple drafts, Steinbeck worked hard to create a palpable factual dimension that gives this otherwise arcane book a recognizable texture in regard to its geographical setting and landmarks (the moss-covered rock actually existed in the northern California town of Laytonville), its unusual characters (some of whom, such as the seer, Steinbeck claimed were based on living persons), and in its feel for telling details of nature and social life in Monterey County in the early part of this century.”
John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown

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