Monday, 7 September 2015

"Of Mice and Men"

   Here is another controversial classic.  This cover shows the beauty of the pastoral scene that opens the book.
   Steinbeck was trying a new genre of writing.  He called it the play/novelette. He thought that the novel was dead but theatre was coming alive.
   This story is very short and was easily adapted to a play.  It also became a movie.  All three forms have often been censored or banned from schools.
  Steinbeck had lived with migrant workers during the depression and wanted the novel to be real.  He believed that the language of books should be the language of men.  So..lots of profanity.
   Steinbeck said that the book is about "commitment, loneliness, hope and loss in the context of friendship".  I think this will make a good discussion for our next book club, because at surface level, there is no hope.  But is there?
  George (small and quick) and Lennie (large with a child's mind) have been migrant workers moving from place to place in the depression to find work.  Lennie loves to pet animals and George makes up a dream story for Lennie about a farm where they will live and raise crops and animals - rabbits for sure.  They even pull in other workers who want to join them in following that dream.  But the owner's wife (the only woman in the story) flirts with the men and causes havoc with Lennie.
  The language in this novel (aside from the profanities) was perfection!  Steinbeck's descriptions make the setting so real!  His words are a delight to read aloud and re-read again.  Not only does he provide a great sense of place, he also allows the reader to understand the men and the times in a very short novel.
  This novel has received great ratings.  I am somewhat conflicted.  I wish there was less profanity and a greater sense of hope.  But the time was called "the depression" for a reason.  Oh, yes!

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