Sunday, 14 March 2010

On this day...

John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath', was published in 1939. The novel, like several of Steinbeck's works, is set in the Great Depression, and chartered the life of protagonist Tom Joad, who sets out for California in an attempt to find wealth and prosperity. Steinbeck had previously published a series of short stories, including of course, 'Of Mice and Men', yet this latest endevour was said to be 'a very grave attempt to do a first-rate piece of work'.

Yet while writing this 'first-rate piece of work' Steinbeck struggled to come up with a title, and indeed it was his wife who supplied him with 'The Grapes of Wrath', itself taken from a passage from Revelation 14:19. The novel's strong social and political subtext ensured that it was a 'phenomenon on the scale of a national event'. Indeed, the book was criticised across the country, yet was later cited as one of the major reasons for Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel Prize win. It is now one of the most frequently read novels in the American school system.

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