The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat - for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation. - John Steinbeck, Stockholm, December 10, 1962
Today is the anniversary John Steinbeck's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature. When it was announced that he had been chosen for the prize, The New York Times sniffed that the award should have gone to a writer "whose significance, influence and sheer body of work had already made a more profound impression on the literature of our age.” Apparently The Grapes of Wrath, the bestselling novel of 1939, which was publicly burned and won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, made little impression in the rarified air of New York. While Steinbeck was undoubtedly uneven, it is hard to think of a work of literature that has had as profound an impact on its age than his masterpiece. Steinbeck wrote the book in reaction to the plight of the Dust Bowl refugees of The Great Depression, declaring, "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this." Here is my appreciation of The Grapes of Wrath from a few years back. And, of course, the film wasn't bad either.
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