John Steinbeck Long Fiction Analysis
John Steinbeck remains a writer of the 1930’s, perhaps the American writer of the 1930’s. Although his first novel, Cup of Gold, was published in 1929, its derivative lost-generation posturing gives little indication of the masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath, he would publish at the end of the next decade. Steinbeck developed from a Romantic, imitative, often sentimental apprentice to a realistic, objective, and accomplished novelist in only a decade. The reasons for this change can be found in the interplay between a sensitive writer and his cultural background.
A writer of great talent, sensitivity, and imagination, Steinbeck entered into the mood of the country in the late 1930’s with an extraordinary responsiveness. The Depression had elicited a reevaluation of American culture, a reassessment of the American Dream: a harsh realism of observation balanced by a warm emphasis on human dignity. Literature and the other arts joined social, economic, and political thought in contrasting traditional American ideals with the bleak reality of breadlines and shantytowns. Perhaps the major symbol of dislocation was the Dust Bowl; the American garden became a wasteland from which its dispossessed farmers fled. The arts in the 1930’s focused on these harsh images and tried to find in them the human dimensions that promised a new beginning.
The proletarian novel, documentary photography, and the documentary film stemmed...
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