Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Steinbeck Reading Plans

I like Steinbeck's writing and have been through East of Eden several times with reading groups of faculty and students. Now I've decided to read through all the rest of John Steinbeck's writings --sort of in the general order of his writing... I'm just getting started but here is the order I'm going to read them:

1 Cup of Gold (1929) (over Christmas break)
2 The Pastures of Heaven (1932) DONE: (Great short stories of the people in one valley--many sad stories with great insight on human nature)
3 The Red Pony (1933) (over Christmas break)
4 To a God Unknown (1933) DONE: (Probably the deepest writing [after East of Eden] for religion readers--about a nominal Christian's reverting to paganism)
5 Tortilla Flat (1935)
6 The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath (1936)
7 In Dubious Battle (1936)
8 Of Mice and Men (1937)
9 The Long Valley (1938)
10 The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
11 Forgotten Village (1941)
12 Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research (1941)
13 The Moon Is Down (1942)
14 Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team (1942)
15 Cannery Row (1945)
16 The Wayward Bus (1947)
17 The Pearl (1947)
18 A Russian Journal (1948)
19 Burning Bright (1950)
20 The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951)
21 East of Eden (1952) DONE --several times--can't wait for the next trip through... are there 'moral monsters' born with no conscience?)
22 Sweet Thursday (1954)
23 The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957)
24 Once There Was A War (1958)
25 The Winter of Our Discontent (1961)
26 Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962) DONE --a wonderful tale of travel--my first Steinbeck writing..can;t wait tor ead it again!
27 America and Americans (1966)

28. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969) DONE--for a writer a must to read near East of Eden!
29 Viva Zapata! (1975)
30 The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976)
31 Workings Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989)


Mark Schnell said...

Keith, I read The Grapes of Wrath a few years ago. Steinbeck was a master but that book was so dark. Of course so was his subject matter. I haven't read any of his other stuff. What is the tone of his other stuff like?

Keith Drury said...

Mark, the tone varies but I understand GOW is very dark... His best book for anyone in the field of theology is East of Eden where he explores the depravity of humanity asking if there are ever individuals born who are moral monsters--completely and totally depraved.

He is my #2 favorite writer. James Michener is #1--but I've read through his life's work already.

I like Steinbeck's writing because he explores theological and sociological themes I'm interested in... generations, humanity, sin, religion, though he takes a dim view of organized religion (though not always negative on the Catholic variety--see the priest in "To a God Unknown").

I recently finished "To a God Unknown" in a reading group with Ethan Lennox... here Steinbeck explores how a nominal Christian might revert to paganism when he gets tied enough to the land... this book [I believe] grows out of his two-year friendship with the scholar Joseph Campbell who was a renowned scholar on the development of natural religion... Steinbeck just explored how a person might "backslide" into paganism from Christianity (howbeit of he nominal variety) and how hat pagan religion might grow "innocently" (I saw a parallel with the competitive development of civil religion though he did not imply that.)

Sometimes dark? Yes... which might just be an accurate representation of the human condition ;-)

Jess said...

coach...i just finished reading east of eden two days ago for the second time and want to immediately open it up to start over. Ther is so much there I want to think about and ponder. I also read Of Mice and Men this summer while hiking. I was just last night picking through the steinbeck books at barnes n noble deciding which one to find next at the library. I am going to keep your list on hand. Oh! and thanks for the insight into To a God Unknown. That was my pick on what to read next!

Jess said...

Any recommendations on where to start with Michener? I read The Source and loved it, but there are so many others that he's written I can't decide where to go next...

Pastor Al said...

Greetings Keith,

'Travels with Charley' was one of my favorite reads as a youth. He captured a sense of northern Maine with very few words. I am familiar with that area...he reminded me of my own experiences. Steinbeck had an artist's eye.

His book inspired me to travel the Northwest in similar fashion. The danger of reading is that it can unsettle the status quo. I tend to live out what I am thinking. All the best with Steinbeck. I am too busy reading your books! When is your auto-biography coming out? I really would like to think about how your experinces relate to the how and why you write.

Josh said...

I have a couple of those books if you need to borrow them - The Short Reign of Pippen and The Red Pony. I can put them in the mail as soon as tomorrow. I'll also start looking for Steinbeck in my weekly second hand bookstore runs. Let me know!

I'm currently going through Vonnegut...

Keith Drury said... are reading parellel with me... if you are doing TOGU then that's where I'd go next too--especially as a REL grad.

JOSH... I just got Red Pony in the mail... I'm thinking of buying-keeping the set.. I have most everything thru the 40's I think... that'll take me until YOU are 40 maybe ;) (THen I can put them in my estate for YOU!. THanx for the offer ..