john e. steinbeck (1902 – 1968)


John Ernst Steinbeck (1902 – 1968) described the tragedies of the poor with scientific naturalism. He wrote about the migrants and Mexican workers, the illiterate and the oppressed. His dialogues reflect the speech patterns (modelli di discorso) of the rural labourers while his prose is often lyrical and shows the influence of folk tales (racconti popolari) in its use of repetition and rhythm revealing the nostalgia for a primitive and simple life.

Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, of German and Irish ancestry (origini). His mother, Olive (Hamilton) Steinbeck, a school teacher, promoted (support) Steinbeck’s love of reading and the written word. During summers he worked as a hired hand (bracciante) on ranches, nourishing (arricchendo) his impression of the California countryside and its people. After graduating from Salinas High School in 1919, Steinbeck attended Stanford University for two years. In 1925 he left university to pursue (perseguire) his writing career in New York. During World War II, Steinbeck was a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his dispatches (dispacci) were later collected (collezionati) and made into Once There Was a War. John Steinbeck was awarded (fu premiato) the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. He was a private person who avoided (evitò) publicity.

John E. Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902 of German and Irish ancestry. His mother, Olive (Hamilton) Steinbeck, a former school teacher, promoted Steinbeck’s love of reading and the written word. During summers he worked as a hired hand on nearby ranches, nourishing his impression of the California countryside and its people. After graduating from Salinas High School in 1919, Steinbeck attended Stanford University for two years, during this time he worked periodically at various jobs and left Stanford permanently in 1925 to pursue his writing career in New York. However, he was unsuccessful in getting any of his writing published and finally returned to California. During World War II, Steinbeck was a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his dispatches were later collected and made into Once There Was a War. John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.  Throughout his life  he remained a private person who avoided publicity. He died in 1968.

Steinbeck wrote particularly about the Salinas-Monterey area, describing the migrants and Mexican workers, the illiterate and the oppressed. His novels depict the tragedies of the poor with scientific naturalism, but they are also pastoral and imaginative, imbued with nostalgia for a primitive and simple life. His dialogues reflect the speech patterns of the rural labourers while his prose is often lyrical and shows the influence of folk tales in its use of repetition and rhythm.

His most famous works are:  Tortilla Flat (1935), a sentimental and humorous tale about the lives of California peasants; Of Mice and Men (1937) about landless rural workers during the Great Depression; The Grapes of Wrath (1939) about the efforts of a dispossessed emigrant family from Oklahoma to California;  The Moon is Down (1942) about a military occupation of a small town in Northern Europe by the army of an unnamed nation; The Pearl (1947), a retelling of a Mexican folk tale; East of Eden (1955) about two families, and their stories; The Winter of our Discontent (1961) about a man who renounces his morals to get rich. 

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