Famous writer John Steinbeck’s first great success came with his novel “Tortilla Flat” which was published on May 28, 1935. It told the story of a group of friends enjoying life and wine at the end of the Great War. It was made into a movie in 1945 starring Spencer Tracey and Hedy Lamarr.
Steinbeck was born in California and later on moved to New York. There he worked as a manual laborer and journalist. During this time he wrote his first two novels. After he got married in 1930 he and his wife moved back to California. Finally financial success came with “Tortilla Flat” describing the adventures of drifters sharing a house in California.
His next novels were “In Dubious Battle” and “Of Mice and Men”. Both were a success. Then Steinbeck came out with his masterpiece in 1938 it was “The Grapes of Wrath”. It told the story of an Oklahoma family who had lost their farm and had become fruit pickers in California. This impressive novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939. I remember struggling with it in my English literature class and was extremely grateful that Hollywood had made a movie out of it starring Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell.
After WWII Steinbeck’s other novels included “Cannery Row” and “The Pearl”. “Cannery Row” became a movie in 1982 starring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger. He is also known for writing some successful films such as “Forgotten Village” and Viva Zapata!” After becoming interested in marine biology Steinbeck published a nonfiction book “The Sea of Cortez” in 1941. For those of you as inquisitive as I am, the Sea of Cortez is also known as the Gulf of California. The writer made a trip across the U.S. in a camper and records his adventure in a travel memoir titled “Travels with Charlie”. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. He died in New York City in 1968.
1. Yesterday, as I was reading an exercise for my student from a Hindi chapter by Munshi Premchand, titled “A Tale of Two Bulls,” I came across a line in which the author compares the donkeys with sages and monks.
2. The comparison was a criticism to the tendency of usually calling dim witted as ‘donkeys.’ He said that it was an insult to both the people and animals.
3. The stupidity shouldn’t be criticized unless it’s unethical. Avarice is worthy of being criticized whereas lack of skill or erudition isn’t. Not on the same scale anyway.
4. Donkeys or other animals are patient in his estimate. Bred for carrying burden. They’re righteously engaged in labour.
5. From the viewpoint of mind which is used to solve problems: the intelligence which helps us adapt to changing environment to function better and evolve towards greater comfort and security: donkeys can be criticized humorously as being dull. They don’t get rebellious. The bulls who get rebellious in the story were appreciated.
6. On the other hand, the truth of spirit or kindness indicates that the viewpoint of mind is to be subdued in the light of greater reason which is guided by the heart. It values patience, perseverance and tenacity in our endeavours. Our attempts at redeeming ourselves : which eventually bring peace.
7. It’s this viewpoint where poets and mystics feel one with the cosmic dance. With divinity which is found in every stone, every mountain, every star and in every dust particle. It’s this vision which makes us appreciate trees which have selflessly served us since time immemorial.
8. It’s grateful heart. The mind says: there are trees which eat humans. There are donkeys who kick back. So there!
The author of the well-known novel “The Red Badge of Courage” was born on November 1, 1871.
Stephen Crane was born into a family of 14 children, being the youngest one. The family lived in Ashbury Park, New Jersey. He got his education at Syracuse University until he dropped out to become a journalist in New York City. He was hardly able to make a living when he started to closely observe the people around him. In 1893 at the ages of 23 he published “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets”. It was a story about a girl who descended into the world of prostitution and finally suicide. Even though the book was a success it did not sell well.
It made Crane look into more popular topics and in 1895 he wrote “The Red Badge of Courage” and by the age of 24 he was internationally known. Due to the success of his novel the newspaper syndicate sent him to cover the West and Mexico. Crane went to Cuba to write about the insurrection against Spain in 1897. While there he stayed at a rundown hotel and met Cora Howard Taylor, who became his lifelong companion. In Cuba the boat he was in sank and he barely survived and he wrote the short story “The Open Boat” about his experiences in a lifeboat with the captain and the cook.
Crane went on to cover the war between Greece and Turkey finally settling in England where he made friends with other authors like Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells and Henry James. It was unfortunate that he contracted tuberculosis in his late 20s. His companion was there to nurse him while he tried to pay off his debts. All of this made him exhausted and his condition became acute. He died at the age of 28 in June of 1900.
“The Red Badge of Courage” remains his greatest work. It was made into a movie in 1951 starring actor Audie Murphy and in 1974 starring Richard Thomas.
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