Better Read Than Never: Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN

Chaney and Meredith, Lennie and George (1939).

Quaid and Blake (1981).








I quoted John Steinbeck recently (in “He Said/She Said”, below right) because I empathize with the fear and inadequacy he felt as a writer. It’s always good to know that heroes are what they are not because they have “no fear” – that great modern lie of the superhero movies and shoe-hawking T-shirts – but precisely because they do fear and it doesn’t stop them. His writerly doubts came as he was struggling with an experimental novel, the classic Of Mice and Men, and I read about them in its introduction. Then I dived, certainly not for the first or second time and (swear to God, hope not to die) likely not for the last, into Steinbeck’s timeless evocation of rural California, sometime early in the 20th century.

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