Classic Remarks is a meme that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. We look forward to seeing your responses!
What is your favorite John Steinbeck novel?
To date, I have only read three Steinbeck novels: The Grapes of Write, Of Mice and Men, and Tortilla Flats. I enjoyed the first two, but Tortilla Flats is supposed to be humorous, and I just didn’t get it; it’s not my brand of humor. If I have to pick a very favorite, it’s The Grapes of Wrath.
I was not always a Grapes of Wrath fan. I read it once in high school and thought it slow and generally odd. It has “interchapters,” which are chapters about the general state of the country, which separate the chapters that are actually about the novel’s characters or the “main action.” Teenage me thought this was stupid, including the infamous “turtle chapter” where readers simply read about a turtle crossing the road. Good times, right?
However, I reread the book last year, and I think I “get” it more now. The interchapters are important. They’re interesting. They offer great commentary on the main action and the message of the novel, and I don’t think it would be complete without them. And I find the main characters and their story interesting, as well.
Steinbeck occasionally gets on a soapbox about his pet causes and the messages of his own novels, but this is not a huge deterrent for me. It’s the style of some books, and I’ve learned to roll with it (I’m looking at you, 1984.) Altogether, I think this is an engaging and fascinating read. It looks long, but it’s worth it.
Are you participating this week? Leave us the link to your post in the comments! Or just comment with your favorite Steinbeck novel.