The Short Novels of John Steinbeck

Critical Essays with a Checklist to Steinbeck Criticism

The Short Novels of John Steinbeck

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Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

The Grapes of Wrath is generally considered Steinbeck’s masterpiece, but the short novel was the form he most frequently turned to and most consciously theorized about, and with constant experimentation he made the form his own. Much of the best—and the worst—of his writing appears in his short novels. This collection reviews what has been categorized as the “good” and the “bad,” looking beyond the careless labeling that has characterized a great deal of the commentary on Steinbeck’s writing to the true strengths and weaknesses of the works. The contributors demonstrate that even in the short novels that are most often criticized, there is more depth and sophistication than has generally been acknowledged.
The essays examine the six most popular short novels—Tortilla Flat, The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, The Moon Is Down, Cannery Row, and The Pearl—in addition to the three usually thought of as less successful—Burning Bright, Sweet Thursday, and The Short Reign of Pippin IV. Because most of Steinbeck’s short novels were adapted and presented as plays or screenplays, many of the essays deal with dramatic or film versions of the short novels as well as with the fiction. The collection concludes with a comprehensive checklist of criticism of the short novels.

Contributors. Richard Astro, Jackson J. Benson, Carroll Britch, John Ditsky, Joseph Fontenrose, Warren French, Robert Gentry, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, William Goldhurst, Tetsumaro Hayashi, Robert S. Hughes Jr., Howard Levant, Clifford Lewis, Peter Lisca, Anne Loftis, Charles R. Metzger, Michael J. Meyer, Robert E. Morsberger, Louis Owens, Roy S. Simmonds, Mark Spilka, John Timmerman



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Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

My Short Novels / John Steinbeck 15

I. Tortilla Flat

1. Tortilla Flat and the Creation of a Legend / Joseph Fontenrose 19

2. Nonteleological Thinking in Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat / Robert Gentry 31

II. Of Mice and Men

3. A Historical Introduction to Of Mice and Men / Anne Loftis 39

4. Of Mice and Men: John Steinbeck's Parable of the Curse of Cain / William Goldhurst 48

5. Of George and Lennie and Curley's Wife: Sweet Violence in Steinbeck's Eden / Mark Spilka 59

III. The Red Pony

6. The Red Pony as Story Cycle and Film / Warren French 71

7. John Steinbeck's The Red Pony: A Study in Narrative Technique / Howard Levant 84

IV. The Moon is Down

8. Dr. Winter's Dramatic Functions in The Moon is Down / Tetsumaro Hayashi 95

9. Steinbeck's "European" Play-Novella: The Moon is Down / John Ditsky 101

V. Cannery Row

10. Cannery Row: Escape into the Counterculture / Peter Lisca 111

11. "Some Philosophers in the Sun": Steinbeck's Cannery Row / Robert S. Hughes Jr. 119

12. Cannery Row and Steinbeck as Spokesman for the "Folk Tradition" / Jackson J. Benson 132

VI. The Pearl

13. The Shadow and the Pearl: Jungian Patterns in The Pearl / John H. Timmerman 143

14. Precious Bane: Mining the Fool's Gold of The Pearl / Michael J. Meyer 161

15. Steinbeck's The Pearl: Legend, Film, Novel / Roy S. Simmonds 173

VII. Sweet Thursday

16. Steinbeck's Version of the Pastoral / Charles R. Metzger 185

17. Critics and Common Denominators: Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday / Louis Owens 195

18. Steinbeck's Bittersweet Thursday / Richard Astro 204

VIII. Burning Bright

19. Burning Bright: The Shining of Joe Saul / Carroll Britch and Clifford Lewis 217

20. Straining for Profundity: Steinbeck's Burning Bright and Sweet Thursday / Mimi Reisel Gladstein 234

IX. The Short Reign of Pippin IV

21. Steinbeck's "Deep Dissembler": The Short Reign of Pippin IV / Louis Owens 249

22. The Narrative Structure of The Short Reign of Pippin IV / Howard Levant 257

X. Overview

23. Steinbeck and the Stage / Robert E. Morsberger 271

Notes 295

Steinbeck's Short Novels: Comprehensive Checklist of Criticism 315

Contributors 347

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-0994-9
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