OK, so Steinbeck's novels lack the formal perfection of Henry James's. But so do most novels. At their best, Steinbeck's novels get a firm grip on life. In a way, he's America's Turgenev. Turgenev has always been more appreciated abroad than in Russia. The same seems to be true of Steinbeck, as it also true of Jack London.
Ineresting that the NYRB is just now reviewing this Library of America volume, which came out, I believe, about a year ago. Steinbeck doesn't exactly need rescuing, since he remains so popular (in the way Jack London does), except to flick off the flies of academe. There is a German author I like whom I think of as the German Steinbeck -- Hans Fallada (né Rudolf Ditzen). Same pointed sentimentality, concern with the fates of overburdened folk, and always a good story.ReplyDelete