Cup of Gold

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Overview

A STANDOUT in the Steinbeck canon, Cup of Gold is edgy and adventurous, brash and distrustful of society, and sure to add a new dimension to the common perception of this all-American writer. Steinbeck's first novel and sole work of historical fiction contains themes that resonate throughout the author's prodigious body of work.

From the mid-1650s through the 1660s, Henry Morgan, a pirate and outlaw of legendary viciousness, ruled the Spanish Main. He ravaged the coasts of Cuba ...

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Overview

A STANDOUT in the Steinbeck canon, Cup of Gold is edgy and adventurous, brash and distrustful of society, and sure to add a new dimension to the common perception of this all-American writer. Steinbeck's first novel and sole work of historical fiction contains themes that resonate throughout the author's prodigious body of work.

From the mid-1650s through the 1660s, Henry Morgan, a pirate and outlaw of legendary viciousness, ruled the Spanish Main. He ravaged the coasts of Cuba and America, striking terror wherever he went. And he had two driving ambitions: to possess the beautiful woman called La Santa Roja, and to conquer Panama, the “cup of gold.”

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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Steinbeck (1902—1968), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, achieved popular success in 1935 with the publication of Tortilla Flat. He went on to write more than twenty-five novels, including The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

Susan F. Beegel is an adjunct associate professor of English at the University of Idaho and the editor of The Hemingway Review.

Biography

John Ernst Steinbeck, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Salinas, California February 27, 1902. His father, John Steinbeck, served as Monterey County Treasurer for many years. His mother, Olive Hamilton, was a former schoolteacher who developed in him a love of literature. Young Steinbeck came to know the Salinas Valley well, working as a hired hand on nearby ranches in Monterey County. In 1919, he graduated from Salinas High School as president of his class and entered Stanford University majoring in English. Stanford did not claim his undivided attention. During this time he attended only sporadically while working at a variety jobs including on with the Big Sur highway project, and one at Spreckels Sugar Company near Salinas.

Steinbeck left Stanford permanently in 1925 to pursue a career in writing in New York City. He was unsuccessful and returned, disappointed, to California the following year. Though his first novel, Cup of Gold, was published in 1929, it attracted little literary attention. Two subsequent novels, The Pastures of Heaven and To A God Unknown, met the same fate.

After moving to the Monterey Peninsula in 1930, Steinbeck and his new wife, Carol Henning, made their home in Pacific Grove. Here, not far from famed Cannery Row, heart of the California sardine industry, Steinbeck found material he would later use for two more works, Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row.

With Tortilla Flat (1935), Steinbeck's career took a decidedly positive turn, receiving the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. He felt encouraged to continue writing, relying on extensive research and personal observation of the human drama for his stories. In 1937, Of Mice and Men was published. Two years later, the novel was produced on Broadway and made into a movie. In 1940, Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Grapes of Wrath, bringing to public attention the plight of dispossessed farmers.

After Steinbeck and Henning divorced in 1942, he married Gwyndolyn Conger. The couple moved to New York City and had two sons, Thomas and two years later, John. During the war years, Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his dispatches reappeared in Once There Was A War. In 1945, Steinbeck published Cannery Row and continued to write prolifically, producing plays, short stories and film scripts. In 1950, he married Elaine Anderson Scott and they remained together until his death.

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "...for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and keen social perception.." In his acceptance speech, Steinbeck summarized what he sought to achieve through his works:

"...Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species...Further more, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity of greatness of heart and spirit—gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature..."

Steinbeck remained a private person, shunning publicity and moving frequently in his search for privacy. He died on December 20, 1968 in New York City, where he and his family made a home. But his final resting place was the valley he had written about with such passion. At his request, his ashes were interred in the Garden of Memories cemetery in Salinas. He is survived by his son, Thomas.

Author biography courtesy of the National Steinbeck Center.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Amnesia Glasscock
      John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (full name); Amnesia Glasscock
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 27, 1902
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salinas, California
    1. Date of Death:
      December 20, 1968
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    My Favorite

    This is one of my absolute favorite books of all times! John Steinbeck does American literature proud. To know that he is counted among the American writers of literature, gives us all something to be proud of. This book beautifully depicts the human character - greed, desire, pride, passion. Steinbeck is one of the few who can beautifully and masterfully depict such aspects in his works as he proves constantly. i picked up this book because it was short and I only had 3 days to write a book report on it, but I was soon awestruck by it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2004

    Midas Touch

    <p>Steinbeck has the Midas Touch and he proves it again in Cup of Gold. <p> I got into Steinbeck 3 summers ago when I read Sweet Thursday. I loved it and have since been reading all of his stuff and I have not been disappointed yet. I even loved Cody and Gabilan in the Red Pony.<p> Cup of Gold is taken from a time where the English Navy rose to prominance. The story of an Englishman who looses his patriotism and becomes a rouge on the high seas. All the while wishing that he would have stayed home with his one love Elizabeth. Simple but deep.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Classic book about Captain Morgan's rise to power

    the book is hard to get into at first but after the first hump it gets going and i really enjoyed it. it's not the best of Steinbeck's books but if your a fan of his, you should read this book it is a classic. i like to read the earlier books of an author and go on from there so i get a good idea of how the authors style changes from book to book. this book gives you a look at the things it takes to change a young boy to a Pirate leader. this book is not that long either (230 PGs) so it's worth it for a quick read between books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2003

    Steinbeck's First Novel

    Even in his first novel Steinbeck's literary genius stood out. His power of description and use of the language was amazing for a man in his twenties. That said, I'll point to two problems I had with the novel. First, his main character, Henry Morgan, was not someone likable. Second, his dialogues were occasionally way too long. Still, since I read this to learn what his writing was like at the beginning of his career (since I too like to write novels) I felt I learned a lot and got a great benefit from the experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2003

    Old high scool reader

    I read this book when I was in High Scool. I wasn't into reading too much and this one really stood out. I loved this book and liked it a lot better than The Pearl. It's was exciting and suspenseful to the very end. I just couldn't remember who wrote it- so I searched and found it here. That should speak for itself how much I liked it. Definetly different from his settings in California- but great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2001

    Uggh...

    Oh man. I tried reading this story in the beginning and didn't know where i was. When i read a novel i tend to have a little movie going on in my head so that i can better understand what it is i am reading and remember the story as well. Well, this in the beginning was so slow and i didn't know who was talking, who was who, and couldn't put a face or personality on anyone. I am sorry but i stopped reading it after the first chapter and threw it in my closet. Maybe when i am desperate to read something i will try reading it again. This is not one of Steinbeck's better novels

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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