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Essential Elements of Steinbeck
. . . offers insights into five key aspects of John Steinbeck

The complex relationship between John Steinbeck and his editor-publisher Pascal "Pat" Covici, who read Steinbeck's first three books, Cup of Gold, The Pastures of Heaven and To a God Unknown, which all languished during the Depression. Covici published Steinbeck's fourth book Tortilla Flat, his first critical and commercial success. Steinbeck remained with Covici throughout his career, a relationship broken only by Covici's death, decades later.

How Steinbeck will be forever linked with Monterey Bay, in Tortilla Flat and eventually Cannery Row and its sequel Sweet Thursday and how Steinbeck's portraits of the paisanos, originally thought to be merely eccentric bums, have become increasingly upsetting to modern critics.

How a seven-part series of investigative articles about the migrants, which Steinbeck published in the now-defunct San Francisco News and which were included in The Grapes of Wrath as intercalary chapters, proved the validity of the novel and helped insure its place as the premier moral vision of the 1930s.

How Steinbeck used the personality and philosophy of his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts in a wide variety of novels, including: In Dubious Battle; Of Mice and Men; The Grapes of Wrath; The moon is Down; Cannery Row; Burning Bright; Sweet Thursday and in Steinbeck's classic short story, "The Snake."

And, how Steinbeck knew, but could not prove, that the FBI had a file on him as early as 1942 and how a Steinbeck jab at "Edgar's boys," was kept in FBI files for decades. J. Edgar Hoover always denied that the FBI had a Steinbeck file, but it grew and grew and continued to grow even after Steinbeck's death. J. Edgar Hoover's denials of a Steinbeck investigation were, at the least disingenuous; at worst, a outright lie.

Thomas Fensch has published three previous books on Steinbeck and has an international reputation in Steinbeck criticism.

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