Rare John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath

ISBN 13: 9780140042399

The Grapes of Wrath

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9780140042399: The Grapes of Wrath

A Sony Radio Academy Award-winning dramatization of John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about economic migration and the endurance of the human spirit.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the Joad family travel from Oklahoma to California in search of work, only to discover thousands like them have also been on the move. Just as their money and food run out, they find work on a peach farm - but discover they're breaking a strike led by their old friend, Casy the Preacher. Tragedy strikes, and Tom Joad hits back before running for his life. The Joad family's dream of a promised land is about to end. Robert Sheehan and Zubin Varla head the cast in this powerful BBC Radio full-cast dramatization.

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Review:

When The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939, America, still recovering from the Great Depression, came face to face with itself in a startling, lyrical way. John Steinbeck gathered the country's recent shames and devastations--the Hoovervilles, the desperate, dirty children, the dissolution of kin, the oppressive labor conditions--in the Joad family. Then he set them down on a westward-running road, local dialect and all, for the world to acknowledge. For this marvel of observation and perception, he won the Pulitzer in 1940.

The prize must have come, at least in part, because alongside the poverty and dispossession, Steinbeck chronicled the Joads' refusal, even inability, to let go of their faltering but unmistakable hold on human dignity. Witnessing their degeneration from Oklahoma farmers to a diminished band of migrant workers is nothing short of crushing. The Joads lose family members to death and cowardice as they go, and are challenged by everything from weather to the authorities to the California locals themselves. As Tom Joad puts it: "They're a-workin' away at our spirits. They're a tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're workin' on our decency."

The point, though, is that decency remains intact, if somewhat battle-scarred, and this, as much as the depression and the plight of the "Okies," is a part of American history. When the California of their dreams proves to be less than edenic, Ma tells Tom: "You got to have patience. Why, Tom--us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." It's almost as if she's talking about the very novel she inhabits, for Steinbeck's characters, more than most literary creations, do go on. They continue, now as much as ever, to illuminate and humanize an era for generations of readers who, thankfully, have no experiential point of reference for understanding the depression. The book's final, haunting image of Rose of Sharon--Rosasharn, as they call her--the eldest Joad daughter, forcing the milk intended for her stillborn baby onto a starving stranger, is a lesson on the grandest scale. "'You got to,'" she says, simply. And so do we all. --Melanie Rehak

About the Author:

John Steinbeck was the author of 27 books, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), East of Eden (1952), and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception".

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