Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art

Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art

Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art

Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art


"With this book DeMott (Ohio Univ.), the preeminent scholar among the second generation of Steinbeck critics, completes a trilogy he announced years ago would be his final words on his subject. . . . . With a bibliography of relevant volumes alongside, this is a conspicuously necessary addition to any serious collection. The annotation alone is worth a night's reading."¿Choice


We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.

--Dencombe to Doctor Hugh, inHenry James The Middle Years (1893)

For we work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing. I think I know . . . but it still isn't much.

--John Steinbeck to Pascal Covici, 23 April 1951, in Journal of a Novel (1969)

I have come belatedly to regard Steinbeck's Typewriter as the final work in a trilogy. It began with Steinbeck's Reading (1984), which reconstructed Steinbeck's composite library of more than nine hundred books he read and/or borrowed during his lifetime (a significant number of entries include his comments on or reactions to specific books). My annotated edition of his Grapes of Wrath journal, Working Days (1989), provided an inside narrative of the multiple forces, historical events, and personalities that entered the composition and controversial aftermath of Steinbeck's most powerful and famous novel. I am disposed to think that Steinbeck's Typewriter not only extends my involvement in the complexities and contradictions of Steinbeck's writerly life by addressing the creation, reception, and interpretation of several of his books, but does so according to his own preferred life--long attitude of acceptance and understanding.

By continuing my habit of letting his published and unpublished texts speak as often as possible for themselves, I hope some light will be thrown on Steinbeck's interior spaces and his creative habits, which I believe have been not only seriously underestimated but woefully ignored. As in my previous two . . .

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