Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

John Steinbeck enjoyed a very long writing career. His first book was published in 1929, when he was twenty-seven years old, and his last book went to print in 1961, seven years before his death. However, he did not, despite his having won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962, enjoy critical support throughout his entire writing career. As a matter of fact, many critics believed that his finest work was The Grapes of Wrath, which was published early in his career, in 1939. Similarly, some believed that the awarding of the Nobel Prize was actually a reflection on his early stage of writing and not for the works that he created after 1939.

Steinbeck's first three novels received very little attention. It was not until he published Tortilla Flat (1935) that he gained recognition. Over his long career he achieved great success, though some critics choose to give more weight to the works written in his early career. The works produced within this time frame include The Red Pony.

In general, Steinbeck's work was often praised for its positive view of life. When he used California as a setting, critics believed that his work flowed more naturally and clearly, such as in The Red Pony, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men. Although his male characters were often well developed and thus highly complimented by reviewers,...

(The entire section is 322 words.)