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Of Mice and Men ()

Nobel Prize Winners (1962)

This wonderful novella tells the ineffably sad tale of two itinerant farm laborers in Depression California.  George Milton is a small wiry man, his traveling companion, Lennie Small, is a giant, but a simpleton.  The two travel from farm to farm, one step ahead of trouble as Lennie's incredible strength and feeble brain continually land them in trouble.  Other farm hands are struck by the rarity of finding such men traveling as partners, but Lennie and George have a dream, a dream of a better life.  As soon as they can raise $600 they can buy a farm and be their own bosses and Lennie will get to raise the rabbits that he loves, but has a tendency to accidentally crush.  Unfortunately, trouble awaits at the farm where they are headed.  The ranch owner's son, Curley, can't control his new bride who has "the eye" or his own temper which flares up whenever she starts flirting with the hired hands.

This is one of those books you had to read in 9th grade, largely because it was by a famous author and it's short enough that teachers figure students might actually finish it.  If you haven't read it since, give it another try.  The relationship between George and Lennie is one of the most beautiful, and oft imitated, in all of literature and the themes of love, friendship, loyalty, courage and the dream of a better life are both timeless and compelling.


Grade: (A+)


John Steinbeck Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: John Steinbeck
-ESSAY: The Cruelty of John Steinbeck: America’s literary icons produced great stories; but their real lives were also cautionary tales. (Jonathon Van Maren, March 11, 2024, European Conservative)
    -ESSAY: Adopt this book: John Steinbeck: Novels 1942–1952 (Library of America, March 2021)
    -ESSAY: Banning The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 California: The Kern County, CA Board of Supervisors got a lesson in the Streisand Effect back in 1939, when they banned The Grapes of Wrath from their libraries and schools. (Livia Gershon March 27, 2022, Jstor Daily)
    -LETTER: John Steinbeck’s lovely letter to his broken-hearted teenage son is perfect Father’s Day reading. (Jessie Gaynor, June 17, 2022, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: John Steinbeck’s Promised Land: The great novelist’s travels in Israel showed him what America had lost (SHALOM GOLDMAN, DECEMBER 19, 2023, The Tablet)
    -ESSAY: How John Steinbeck Inspired the Resistance in WWII (Adam Nettina, November 2021, HistoryNet)
-REVIEW ESSAY: Of Mice, Men, and Murdering Misfits (Dwight Longenecker, April 21st, 2021, Imaginative Conservative)
    -ESSAY: Decades Later, a John Steinbeck Classic is Still Inspiring Travelers (and Their Dogs): Could "Travels With Charley" inspire your next road trip? John Steinbeck ( TOBIAS CARROLL, 1/01/20, Inside Hook)
    -REVIEW: Tom Joad and the Quest for an American Eden (Mark Malvasi, December 28th, 2020, Imaginative Conservative)
    -REVIEW: of Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck by William Souder (Vivian Gornick, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of Mad at the World (Philip Lopate, TLS)
    -REVIEW: of Mad at the World (Margot Enns, University Bookman)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Nobel Laureate 1962 : John Steinbeck (Official Nobel Site)
    -ARCHIVES : "steinbeck" (NY Review of Books)
    -Center for Steinbeck Studies
    -The National Steinbeck Center
    -Literary Research Guide: John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)
    -ESSAY : The Author, On 'Grapes Of Wrath'  (NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY : Return to Cannery Row (Herbert Gold, NY Times Book Review)
    -ONLINE STUDYGUIDE: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck  (SparkNote by Ross Douthat)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : Grapes of Wrath (Spark Notes)
    -REVIEW : of Grapes of Wrath (NY Times, April 16, 1939)
    -REVIEW : of The Grapes of Wrath By John Steinbeck  (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Winter of Our Discontent (London Sunday Times)
    -REVIEW: THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT and TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, by John Steinbeck (July 1961 and August 1962, The Atlantic)
    -REVIEW : of WORKING DAYS The Journals of ''The Grapes of Wrath,''1938-1941. By John Steinbeck. Edited by Robert DeMott (William Kennedy, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of JOHN STEINBECK A Biography. By Jay Parini (Terry Teachout, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF JOHN STEINBECK, WRITER. By Jackson J. Benson (Kevin Starr, NY Times Book Review)