The Log from the Sea of Cortez

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Overview

In the two years after the 1939 publication of Steinbeck’s masterful The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck and his novel increasingly became the center of intense controversy and censorship. In search of a respite from the national stage, Steinbeck and his close friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, embarked on a month long marine specimen-collecting expedition in the Gulf of California, which resulted in their collaboration on the Sea of Cortez. In 1951, after Ricketts’ death, Steinbeck reissued his narrative portion of the ...

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The Log from the Sea of Cortez

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Overview

In the two years after the 1939 publication of Steinbeck’s masterful The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck and his novel increasingly became the center of intense controversy and censorship. In search of a respite from the national stage, Steinbeck and his close friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, embarked on a month long marine specimen-collecting expedition in the Gulf of California, which resulted in their collaboration on the Sea of Cortez. In 1951, after Ricketts’ death, Steinbeck reissued his narrative portion of the work in memory of his friend and the inspiration for Cannery Row’s “Doc”. This exciting day-by-day account of their journey together is a rare blend of science, philosophy, and high-spirited adventure. This edition features an introduction by Richard Astro.

In 1940, Steinbeck and his friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, ventured into the Gulf of California to search for marine invertebrates along the beaches. This exciting, day-by-day account of their trip, drawn from the longer work, Sea of Cortez, is a wonderful combination of science, philosophy, and high-speed adventure that provides a fascinating portrait of Steinbeck and Ricketts.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140187441
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 196,535
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.77 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN STEINBECK (1902—1968) was born in Salinas, California. He worked as a laborer and a journalist, and in 1935, when he published Tortilla Flat, he achieved popular success and financial security. Steinbeck wrote more than twenty-five novels and won the Nobel Prize in 1962.
Robert DeMott is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio University and the author of Steinbeck's Typewriter, an award-winning book of critical essays.
Gary Scharnhorst is professor of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the editor of books by Bret Harte and John De Forest for Penguin Classics.

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 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Steinbeck turns his attention to the sea as he documents a scien

    Steinbeck turns his attention to the sea as he documents a scientific collecting expedition along the coast of Baja California in 1941. This book explores our fascination with the sea and its creatures, and also formulates ideas on man’s impact on the marine environment that resonate in timeless wisdom. If you love adventure, littoral creatures, boats and philosophical exploration, then you will want this book in your collection. One of my favorites from way back.
    .

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  • Posted May 6, 2011

    Good solid read..

    I visited the Monterey/Carmel area last summer so I wanted to read this book. Nonfiction is not my usually forte but I enjoyed it. It works as a travelogue & science journal and has some philosophy thrown in. The only reason I didnt give it 5 stars is it is a bit preachy and wordy in a couple of spots. Worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2008

    Science plus Metaphysics equals Friendship

    One of the greatest books I've ever read. I didn't expect, from the description on the back, to open the book randomly to any page and literally be wrapped in it until my legs ached from standing up at the bookstore. This is an example of what makes a brilliant writer: the subject could have been so dry and yet Steinbeck makes it a joy to read about the life between the ocean and the land -- and between himself and his friend Ricketts. Most importantly, it reveals just how closely linked art and knowledge (science) really are when great minds are willing to come together the way they did here. I really think this is was a miraculous event in the history of writing, and especially in the context of our 'science' emergency today (both in terms of education and in terms of the state of our natural resources), this book should be mandatory reading for all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004

    A Different Side of Steinbeck (one you'll like)

    I loved this book. It shows Steinbeck's outstanding sense of humor. Furthermore, it shows Steinbeck's strong ecological principles. It was entertaining and fun to read. I have read other Steinbeck books and this is a little lighter in tone. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2001

    Log from Sea of Cortez Captivates

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. As far as Steinbeck's writings go, this is his greatest work. As the title implies, this is a ships log created in the 40's during an expedition made by John Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts and others to collect biological samples from the inter-tidal zones. The result was a textbook written by Ricketts and Hudspeth, Between Pacific Tides, which is still used for students of Marine Biology 50+ years later. The style of this log is Steinbeck's, warm and full of humor. It also sheds light on many of the characters from Steinbeck's 'Monterey' novels. A must read for Marine Biologists as well as fans of John Steinbeck!

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