Glossary entry for
mice and men

Van's use of the phrase "of mice and men" traces its origin to the poem "To a Mouse" by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796):

The best-laid plans o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promised joy.

Burns' phrase was also used by American writer John Steinbeck (1902-1968) on his 1937 novella Of Mice and Men. That story is about Lennie, a man who has great physical strength but a feeble intellect, and he unwittingly commits homicide. Other well known works by Steinbeck are The Grapes of Wrath (1939; Pulitzer Prize), Cannery Row (1945) and East of Eden (1956). He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962.

Contributed by Alan Pert, Sydney, Australia

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