The Pastures of Heaven

The Pastures of Heaven

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Overview

The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck

In Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck’s beautifully rendered depictions of small yet fateful moments that transform ordinary lives, these twelve early stories introduce both the subject and style of artistic expression that recur in the most important works of his career. Each of these self-contained stories is linked to the others by the presence of the Munroes, a family whose misguided behavior and lack of sensitivity precipitate disasters and tragedies. As the individual dramas unfold, Steinbeck reveals the self-deceptions, intellectual limitations, and emotional vulnerabilities that shape the characters’ reactions and gradually erode the harmony and dreams that once formed the foundation of the community. This edition includes an introduction and notes by James Nagel.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140187489
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1995
Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 237,778
Product dimensions: 5.11(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
 
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
 
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
 
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
 
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

James Nagel, Edison Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Georgia, has edited several collections on the works of Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Crane, and Hamlin Garland, as well as the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics edition of John Steinbeck's Pastures of Heaven.

Date of Birth:

February 27, 1902

Date of Death:

December 20, 1968

Place of Birth:

Salinas, California

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

John Steinbeck knew and understood America and Americans better than any other writer of the twentieth century. (The Dallas Morning News) A man whose work was equal to the vast social themes that drove him. (Don DeLillo)"

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The Pastures of Heaven 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It would be difficult to pick a favorite book by John Steinbeck. Yet, this one would definitely be on the top of the list. It is beautifully written, thoughtful and thought-provoking. It teaches and reminds us how much of life is lived more deeply than what appears on the surface. Even in the Pastures of Heaven, there may be a little hell. I recommend this book highly.
jd234512 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Wonderful book full of interwoven stories. I love how everything fits together and the theme of place is so apparent. The land is a mysterious thing, especially with the way us humans interact with it. Read this and experience The Pastures of Heaven. Move into their community and see what life is like.
Joycepa on LibraryThing 4 days ago
In his early California novels, Steinbeck focused on the land he loved and the people who lived there. The Pastures of Heaven (which is based on a real valley and whose characters have roots in real people) is one of those novels and uses the same format he employed in Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row¿a collection of stories around an organizing theme. One of his earliest books, The Pastures of Heaven, focuses on the people who work the land and live in its town. The stories are fairly independent; there are recurring characters but each can stand alone. Steinbeck has an eerie way of foreshadowing the emotional climate of his early books in his prologues. Some are gently humorous, some cast a shadow of foreboding; because Steinbeck¿s prose in these books in which the land is at the heart of everything is lyrical, it¿s sometimes difficult to understand why. In The Pastures of Heaven, the prologue recounts the discovery of the valley by a Spanish corporal leading a punitive expedition to recover a group of converted Indians who had the audacity to desert the mission to which they were bound. On his return, by accident this man who had ¿whipped brown backs to tatters, he whose rapacious manhood was building a new race for California¿ accidentally stumbles on this hitherto undiscovered (by whites) valley. Overcome by the beauty of the valley, he murmurs ¿here are the green pastures of Heaven to which our Lord leadeth us¿. Intending always to go back when he retires, he dies instead of the ¿pox¿ (syphilis). And that story sets the tone for the rest.Running through the book like a theme is the history of the Battle farm, named after its first settler. Although one of the best pieces of land in the valley, nothing good happens to George Battle and his son John is a crazy religious fanatic who dies appropriately by snake bite. Others buy it, and finally Burt Munroe is the last in a line of people who buys the old Battle Farm as a refuge, a retirement, from battle with the forces of the hostile business world. But the land has a force of its own; somehow Munroe is never quite able to come into harmony with it and really make the place his own. Burt is one of the recurring characters, and this disharmony with the farm runs through the stories. Other characters appear for their moment in the sun, but somehow or another, nothing ever quite works out for them. It¿s as if the valley rejects the evil of the Spanish corporal in the only way it can¿by rejecting the people who come to settle there. Not that there¿s any black cloud that hangs perceptibly over the valley and the town (with the exception of the Battle farm)¿it¿s just that somehow life in the valley never quite lives up to its promise.The last chapter is an epilogue, in which a group of people in a tour bus look down over the beautiful valley from a view point. An old man, a successful businessman, a priest, the driver of the tour bus¿all are caught up in the apparent tranquility and prosperity of the valley, and each imagines in his own way what it would be like to retire from the hostile world to this refuge. It's a perfect, ironic close to the cycle of stories.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing 4 days ago
A short story collection depicting the gradual downfall of some residents within a California valley. The human theatre on display.
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