Mr. Steinbeck


Dear Pat,

You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said,”Why don’t you make something for me?”

I asked you what you wanted and you said “A box.”

“What for?”

“To put things in.”

“What things?”

“Whatever you have,” you said.

Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts — the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.

And top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.

And still the box is not full.


(from the front page of East of Eden)


Ad Astra Per Alia Perci

Throughout his life Steinbeck signed his letters with his personal “Pigasus” logo, symbolizing himself “a lumbering soul but trying to fly.” The Latin motto Ad Astra Alia Perci translates “To the stars on the wings of a pig.”


It is such a shame that I read none of John Steinbeck’s novels during my college years. I get stuck on romance-kind-of books and postmodern dramas, one of which becomes my subject of graduating paper. Once I leave the university seat, I go to one of the cities bookstores and find this book. I already know Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath but not this particular book. I remember I get to know this title from The analogy of Adam and Eve in this novel leads me to learn “family” side of Steinbeck. News has it that he wants to explore his family anchestor through this book. One prominent reason on why I am deeply in love with this man is that he is such a great obverser who is able to write novels from everything and everyone who is nearby. What lies in front of his eyes become miraculous ideas. Below are some of his quotes from East of Eden. I read it years ago thus I hardly remember his beautiful quotes. P.S: The book is quite expensive, in my opinion, but really worth reading.

Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? …Well, think about it. Maybe you’re playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.”

“I think I love you, Cal.” -Abra
I’m not good.” -Cal
Because you’re not good.” -Abra

“But you must give him some sign, some sign that you love him… or he’ll never be a man. All his life he’ll feel guilty and alone unless you release him.

Regarding “thou mayest”:
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.”

All quotes are from his own family saga

What if John Steinbeck were still alive? Hmmm…

I have been searching for Travels with Charlie: In Search of America, but to no avail thus far. Can one of you guys, if happen to find this book, buy it first then I will compensate it?

Or may be below quotes may attact you as well…

“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

Laugh your ass off! Tortilla Flat is way a lot of hillarious, ridiculous, witty. Precious lessons of life is rich in this book. So, its not really easy reading. The book is so funny that I disbelieve it is John Steinbeck who writes it. The novel revolves around the lives of silly people called paisanos. They are drunkards, thieves, ruffians, and vagabonds, but they are also surprisingly good at heart; requiring little more from life than friendship and a little wine. Among these paisanos are Danny, Pilon, Pablo, Jesus Maria, and Big Joe Portagee.

Spoiler: I dislike the ending. Thats all! All in all, the book is such an amusement!

Jose Maria Corcoran: What’s the matter with him? Is he crazy?
Pablo: “A little love is like a little wine. Too much of either will make a man sick

Pilon: He makes a good speech.
Daniel Alvarez: Yeah, like an old goat in the moonlight!

“Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.”

This is the first, and strongly hope, the last of his book, that puts at very stressful condition while reading it. In Dubious Battle is the first kind of politic and labor themes book that I read, and I dont think I am trying to read another similar novel both from Steinbeck or other authors. The book is just too heavy for me. And to be honest, the flow of the story does no run well. I mean, I hardly grasp emotional thread in between characters. If I were driving a car, I feel like I hit small rocks along the way. So I think, Mr. Steinbeck admits he does find troubles while creating this piece of work. Below is his opinions prior to the publication of the book:

“This is the first time I have felt that I could take the time to write and also that I had anything to say to anything except my manuscript book. You remember that I had an idea that I was going to write the autobiography of a Communist. … There lay the trouble. I had planned to write a journalistic account of a strike. But as I thought of it as fiction the thing got bigger and bigger. It couldn’t be that. I’ve been living with this thing for some time now. I don’t know how much I have got over, but I have used a small strike in an orchard valley as the symbol of man’s eternal, bitter warfare with himself. “


John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Tortilla Flat, East of Eden, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, In Dubious Battle


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