Of Mice and Men by wulinqing



        An Introduction

   John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was born in Salinas,
    California, near Monterey on February 27, 1902 of
    German and Irish ancestry.
   His father was treasurer of Monterey County and his
    mother was a public school teacher.
   An avid reader, he was influenced by Malory, Hardy,
    Dostoevsky, Flaubert, George Eliot, Milton and the
   After graduating from Salinas High School, he
    attended Stanford University but did not graduate.
   Instead, he left for New York in 1925 to establish a
    career as a writer, but he was unsuccessful and
    returned to California.
   He worked a series of odd jobs as a hired hand on
    nearby ranches, a road construction worker, a
    caretaker, a chemist, a freight handler, a sugar beet
    factory worker, and a fruit picker.
   His first three novels earned little
    literary attention until, in 1935, he
    published Tortilla Flat. Tortilla Flat
    finally brought Steinbeck the critical and
    financial success he had been working
    so hard to achieve.
   In 1937, his dog chewed up half of an
    original manuscript entitled Something
    That Happened. He recreated it from
    memory, completed the work, changed
    the title to Of Mice and Men, and sent it
    to his publisher two months later.
   Of Mice and Men is an experiment in
    literary form: Steinbeck blends narrative
    with dramatic technique. For example,
    although the novel technically may be said
    to have an omniscient narrator, the
    narrator’s role is sharply limited. Steinbeck
    only reveals a character’s thoughts or what
    is happening outside the immediate scene
    through dramatic means—an action,
    gesture, facial expression, or dialogue. In
    short, Steinbeck’s primary aim is showing
    rather than telling.
   Maybe this is why Of Mice and Men, when
    adapted into a play, was such a huge hit
    with critics and audiences on Broadway.
   During the 1930s, Steinbeck was concerned about the plight of
    America’s downtrodden and dispossessed. From 1935 to 1940,
    exiles from the drought-plagued Southwest poured into California,
    drawn by the conviction that California was the promised land, a
    place to begin anew with employment in the orange groves and
    lettuce fields. More than 350,000 people from Oklahoma, Arkansas,
    and Texas came to California for employment. California could not
    employ all of these people. So from the mid 1930s until 1940, the
    migrants moved restlessly up and down the state, waiting for crops
    to ripen, longing for work.
   In fact, he missed the opening night of Of Mice and Men
    on Broadway because he was traveling with a group of migrant
    workers from Oklahoma to California.
   In 1939 Steinbeck published the story of their lives in the
    best-selling novel and controversial exposé Grapes of Wrath.
   This masterpiece won a Pulitzer prize and the National Book Award.
   In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He
    was praised for his impartial instinct for truth in a particularly
    American vein.
   John Steinbeck died December 20, 1968.
   In 1974, his Salinas home was opened as a
    museum and restaurant.
   Learn more about the National Steinbeck Center at
Throughout his work, Steinbeck advocated a kind of
  “moral ecology,” emphasizing the need for humans
  and nature to be in partnership. He was ultimately
  more interested in what unites humanity than what
  causes isolation.
Much of Steinbeck’s work focuses on the outcasts of
  society—the poor, the demented, the uneducated,
  and the rebellious. His obvious sympathy for the
  underdog reveals that the inhumanity that
  individuals inflict upon each other never failed to
  outrage him.
“Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not
    changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are
    not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties,
    their responsibilities have been decreed by our species…the writer is delegated
    to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and
    spirit—for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless
    war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and
    emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the
    perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”

                     --John Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Cup of Gold (1929)             The Moon is Down (1942)
The Pastures of Heaven         Bombs Away: The Story of a
   (1932)                         Bomber Team (1942)
To a God Unknown (1933)        Cannery Row (1945)
Tortilla Flat (1935)           The Pearl (1947)
In Dubious Battle (1936)       The Wayward Bus (1947)
Of Mice and Men (1937)         East of Eden (1952)
The Long Valley (1938)         Sweet Thursday (1954)
The Grapes of Wrath (1939)     The Short Reign of Pippin IV
The Forgotten Village (1941)      (1957)
The Sea of Cortez (1941)       The Winter of Our Discontent
                               Travels with Charley (1962)

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