|Beegel, Susan F., and Susan Shillinglaw, ed. Steinbeck and the Environment:
Interdisciplinary Approaches. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1997.
Transcribes the papers delivered at the conference “Steinbeck and the Environment,”
which was held in May 1992. Divided into five parts: “Origins,” “The Grapes of Wrath,”
“Sea of Cortez,” “Later Works,” and “Overviews.” Comiles nineteen essays by scholars in
American literature, philosophy, history, feminist theory, environmental studies, social and
physical sciences, and marine biology with a focus on Steinbeck’s environmental perspective.
Includes an introduction divided into three parts: Tiffney’s “A Scientist’s Perspective,”
Shillinglaw’s “A Steinbeck Scholar’s Perspective,” and Beegel’s “A Generalist’s Perspective.”
Buitenhuis, Peter. “The Interventionist Propaganda of Archibald MacLeish, Robert E.
Sherwood, and John Steinbeck.” Canadian Review of American Studies 26.1
Discusses how MacLeish, Sherwood, and Steinbeck became agents of propaganda for
the United States government. Begins by describing President Roosevelt’s decision to
use liberal internationalists to turn public opinion so the U.S. could aid the Allies. Offers a
detailed summary of The Moon is Down and asserts that the novel/play is a clear example
of propaganda. Reports that Roosevelt persuaded Steinbeck to write Bombs Away, even
though he was reluctant to do so. States that all three writers sacrificed the quality of their
work because they believed the survival of democracy was more important.
Chabot, C. Barry. Writers for the Nation: American Literary Modernism. Tuscaloosa:
U of Alabama P, 1997.
Studies American literary modernism in the years between the world wars. Focuses on
the works of Willa Cather, Van Wyck Brooks, T. S. Eliot, Allen Tate, Wallace Stevens,
and Harlem Renaissance writers. The chapter “The Thirties and the Failure of the Future”
discusses writers who were influenced by that decade. Compares Of Mice and Men and
The Grapes of Wrath to other proletarian and revolutionary novels. States that Steinbeck
looked to the future for solutions while his contemporaries looked to the past.
DeMott, Robert J. Steinbeck’s Typewriter: Essays on His Art. Troy, NY: Whitson, 1997.
Collects and revises nine of DeMott’s essays on Steinbeck. Is considered to be the third
volume in DeMott’s Steinbeck trilogy, which also includes Steinbeck’s Reading (1984)
and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989). Part One, “Creative
Reading/Creative Writing,” contains three essays emphasizing the importance of Steinbeck’s
reading to his writing. Part Two, “Negotiating Texts,” contains three essays on the writing
and reception of three of his novels. Part Three, “Interior Dimensions,” includes three
essays that deal with three different off-beat topics. Part Four is a bibliography of books
by and about Steinbeck.
Ditsky, John. “‘We Are Cain’s Children’: Towards a Newer Testament.” South
Dakota Review 35.2 (1997): 47-59.
Observes the changes in the way Steinbeck uses the theme of betrayal of brotherhood
throughout his writing career. Proposes that his use of the Cain figure developed into the
use of a Judas figure until, in Winter of Our Discontent, Ethan Allen Hawley comes to
contain both Cain and Abel, both Jesus and Judas. States that Steinbeck saw the Cain
sign not as a curse but as a mark of protection and a promise.
- - -. “Cannery Row: Passageway in the Heart.” Steinbeck Newsletter 12.1 (1999): 5-8.
Argues that Cannery Row as a metaphor affects all of Steinbeck’s writing by grounding
it in the here-and-now. Demonstrates that all of his works “bespeaks a willingness to
prefer a passionate enjoyment to the aggressive ambition to own for the sake of owning.”
Gilbert, James N. “The Influence of John Steinbeck on American Social and Criminal
Justice.” Platte Valley Review 24.1 (1996): 89-99.
Examines the use of social and criminal justice in The Grapes of Wrath, In Dubious Battle,
The Long Valley, and East of Eden and asserts that the novels’ great popularity had
significant potential to influence public opinion. Claims that, with the publication of In
Dubious Battle, public attention to crime shifted from organized gangsters to corrupt
government officials. Notes the reaction the president and prominent politicians had to
Grapes and their promises to reform legislation. Proposes that Eden caused 1950’s
America to contemplate inherent criminality versus environmental criminality.
Gray, James. “John Steinbeck.” American Writers: Selected Authors. Vol. 3. Ed.
Leonard A. Unger and Walter Litz. New York: Scribner, 1998. 1185-1208.
Offers a brief biography and overview of Steinbeck’s major works. States that all of his
works celebrate the worth of man and can be examined on many different levels. Looks
at Steinbeck as storyteller in The Grapes of Wrath and In Dubious Battle. Discusses his
technical skills used in East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, and The Red Pony and his skill as
a myth maker in To a God Unknown, Tortilla Flat, Burning Bright, and The Pearl. Praises
his power of description and ability to create a total environment, and confronts early
criticism that dismisses Steinbeck as being too sentimental.
Heavilin, Barbara. “Judge, Observer, Prophet: The American Cain and Steinbeck’s
Shifting Perspective.” South Dakota Review 34.2 (1996): 192-206.
Compares the treatment of good and evil in Travels with Charley in Search of America
and The Grapes of Wrath to their treatment in America and Americans and East of Eden.
Contends that Steinbeck approaches Travels and Grapes as a judge and, therefore, the Cain
figures (“The Cheerleaders” in Travels and the bankers and landowners in Grapes) are written
as unredeemable. States that his approach as an observer in America and Eden allows good
to come from evil in the Cain figures (“The American” in America and Cal in Eden). Declares
that Steinbeck took on a prophetic voice in The Winter of Our Discontent, which allows good
and evil to intermix so that the strength of Cain combines with the goodness of Abel in Ethan.