John Ernst Steinbeck
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902 and visited Stanford University intermittently (přerušovaně) between 1920 and 1926. Steinbeck did not graduate from Stanford, but instead chose to support himself through manual labor while writing. His experiences among the working classes in California lent authenticity to his depiction of the lives of the workers who are the central characters of his most important novels. Steinbeck spent much of his life in Monterey County (hrabství), which later was the setting of some of his fiction.
Steinbeck's first novel, Cup of Gold (Pohár zlata) was published in 1929, and was followed three years later by The Pastures of Heaven (Nebeské pastviny) and, in 1933, To a God Unknown (Neznámému Bohu). Steinbeck had his first success with Tortilla Flat (Pláň Tortilla) in 1935, an affectionately (láskyplně) told story of Mexican-Americans told with gentle humor. Nevertheless(nicméně), his subsequent (pozdější) novel, In Dubious Battle (Byla kdysi válka) (1936) was marked by an unrelenting grimness(pochmurnost). Steinbeck received (dostat) even greater acclaim (uznání) for the novella Of Mice and Men (O myších a lidech) (1937), a tragic story about the strange, complex bond (pouto) between two migrant laborers. His crowning achievement, The Grapes of Wrath (Hrozny hněvu), won Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award. It was also adapted into a classic film directed by John Ford that was name one of the American Film Institute's one hundred greatest films. The novel describes the migration of a dispossessed (okradení) family from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California and critiques their subsequent exploitation by a ruthless (bezohledný) system of agricultural economics.
After the best-selling success of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck went to Mexico to collect marine (mořský) life with the freelance (nezávislý) biologist Edward F. Ricketts, and the two men collaborated (spolupracovat) in writing Sea of Cortez (1941), a study of the fauna of the Gulf of California.
During the second world war, Steinbeck wrote some effective pieces of government propaganda, among them The Moon Is Down (Měsíc zapadá) (1942), a novel of Norwegians under the Nazis. He also served (podávat) as a war correspondent. While containing the elements of social criticism that marked his earlier work, the three novels Steinbeck published immediately following (následující) the war Cannery Row (Na plechárně) (1945), The Pearl (Perla) and The Wayward Bus (Toulavý autobus)(both 1947) were more sentimental and relaxed in approach (přiblížení). Steinbeck also contributed (přispět) to several screenplays. He wrote the original stories for several films, including Lifeboat (1944), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and A Medal for Benny, and wrote the screenplay for Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata!, a biographical film about Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican peasant (sedlák) who rose to the presidency.
Steinbeck's later writings were comparatively slight works of entertainment and journalism, but he did make conscientious (svědomitý) attempts (pokusit se) to reassert (znovu si zajistit) his stature (úroveň) as a major novelist: Burning Bright (1950), East of Eden (Na východ od ráje) (1952), and The Winter of Our Discontent (Zima úzkosti) (1961). In 1962 he had written travelogue The Travels with Charley (Toulky s Charliem) in Search of America. None of these works equaled (rovnat se) the critical reputation of his earlier novels. Steinbeck's reputation depends mostly on the naturalistic novels with proletarian themes he wrote during the Depression. It is in these works that Steinbeck is not effective in his building of rich symbolic structures and his attempts (pokusit se) at conveying (vyjádřit) the archetypal qualities of his characters. Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962, and died in New York City in 1968. He was buried in the birthplace.
Of Mice and Men
The novel, which takes place during the Great Depression, begins beside the Salinas River near Soledad, California, where two migrant workers, Lennie Small and George Milton, are walking on their way to a nearby ranch. They had recently escaped from a farm near Weed where Lennie, a mentally deficient yet docile man, was wrongly accused (obžalovaný) of rape (znásilnění) when he touched a woman to feel her soft dress. George is his physical opposite, a small man with defined features. George scolds (nadávat) Lennie for playing with a dead mouse and warns (varovat) him not to speak when they arrive at their new place of employment. George soon describes his dream: he and Lennie will raise enough money to buy a patch of land, where they will have a small farm with a vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch. The rabbit hutch is the only detail of the plan that Lennie consistently (důsledně) remembers. George tells Lennie that, if he gets into trouble as he did in Weed, he should return to the brush near the river and wait for George to find him.
When George and Lennie reach the bunkhouse at the farm where they will work. They have many friend here. George and Lennie find friend who dream about small farm where he will live. His name is Candy. They decide theat they pooled their money. Slim, whose dog had a new litter of puppies, gives Lennie one of them. George admits (přijmout) to Slim that he and Lennie escaped lynching when Lennie was accused of rape. The next morning, when Lennie is playing with his new puppy, he accidentally kills it when he bounces it too hard. Curley's Wife finds him in the barn (stodola) with the dead puppy, and when she allows him to feel how soft her hair is, he handles (uchopit, držet) her too forcefully. When she screams, Lennie covers her mouth and, as she tries to struggle (snažit se) free from his grasp (uchopení), he snaps her neck. When Lennie escapes the ranch, Candy and George find the body and immediately realize that Lennie killed her. Candy alerts (upozornit) the other men, and Curley forms a party to search for Lennie. Curley intends to murder him. George steals Carlson's gun, leading the other men to think that Lennie actually took it before he escaped.
George, who points Curley and the other men in the wrong direction, finds Lennie in the brush where he told him to go at the beginning of the novel. Lennie has been having hallucinations of a giant rabbit and his Aunt Clara; they warn Lennie that George will be angry at him for killing Curley's Wife and that he has lost the possibility of having a house with a rabbit hutch. George begins to tell Lennie about their plans for a house and the rabbit hutch when he shoots Lennie in the back of the head with Carlson's gun. Upon hearing this, the other men find George and Lennie. George tells them that Lennie had stolen the gun and he shot Lennie when he got the gun back from him.