Literally Speaking: This Week in Literary History

On October 25, 1962, John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for his literary works. You may recognize him from your high school reading list, nestled between other writers such as Ray Bradbery, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. He was the most notable American lit writer on my list and when I saw “Of Mice and Men” on the list, I groaned. How many times would I have to read about the depressing sympathy killing of the complicated character Lennie?
Nevertheless, John Steinbeck is actually one of my favorite writers. Not only was he an excellent narrator, he also illustrated and perpetuated major events in society at the time. This is easily seen in one of his best known works, “The Grapes of Wrath.”
This event in history — Steinbeck winning a Nobel Prize — met with a lot of criticism. People disagreed with the decision and felt Steinbeck did not meet the standard of a Nobel laureate. Despite those criticisms, I think we cannot deny Steinbeck’s place in American history and his special tact for identifying the importance of social issues while living through them.
So this week, if I get a chance between exams and essays, I will grab my favorite Steinbeck novel, “East of Eden,” off the shelf. I will sip on mandarin orange tea and be transported to the not-so-distant world created by the American people, and illustrated by the legendary John Steinbeck.
You can reach me at arabusa@asu.edu or on Twitter @marie_eo.