Reclaiming John Steinbeck: Writing for the Future of Humanity.

2021
Author(s)
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Reclaiming John Steinbeck: Writing for the Future of Humanity.

John Steinbeck is a towering figure in twentieth-century American literature yet he remains one of our least understood writers. This major reevaluation of Steinbeck by Gavin Jones uncovers a timely thinker who confronted the fate of humanity as a species facing climate change, environmental crisis, and a growing divide between the powerful and the marginalized. Driven by insatiable curiosity, Steinbeck's work crossed a variety of borders – between the United States and the Global South, between human and non-human lifeforms, between science and the arts, and between literature and film – to explore the transformations in consciousness necessary for our survival on a precarious planet. Always seeking new forms to express his ecological and social vision of human interconnectedness and vulnerability, Steinbeck is a writer of urgent concern for the twentieth-first century, even as he was haunted by the legacies of racism and injustice in the American West.

About the Author

Gavin Jones is the author of Strange Talk: The Politics of Dialect Literature in Gilded Age America (U of California, 1999), American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty in U.S. Literature, 1840-1945 (Princeton, 2007), Failure and the American Writer: A Literary History (Cambridge, 2014), and Reclaiming John Steinbeck: Writing for the Future of Humanity (Cambridge 2021). He has published articles on writers such as George W. Cable, Theodore Dreiser, W.E.B. DuBois, Sylvester Judd, Paule Marshall, Mark Twain, and Herman Melville, in journals including American Literary History, New England Quarterly, and African American Review. Jones has edited a new version of a neglected classic of American literature, Sylvester Judd's "transcendental novel," Margaret: A Tale of the Real and Ideal, Blight and Bloom (1845). He is also co-editing a much needed Cambridge Companion to the American Short Story, and is beginning a new project titled The Secret History of the Short Story.