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What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder?  It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.

John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath is his most controversial work, describing one family's journey from Oklahoma to California, in search of a livelihood and more properous times.  The journey is a difficult one, and they encounter hate, violence and prejudice.   This strikes me as a "great American novel" in that the themes of westward journeys and prejudice are deeply rooted in American history and culture.

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962, and in his acceptance speech said, "The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement."  Grapes of Wrath was written in the hopes of inspiring such improvement in the American people.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
This is one of those answers where I'll admit that yes, masterpiece, but sorry, I hated it when I read it in school.... (grin)

Thanks for playing!

Jul. 5th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
I've never read it (how did that happen?) but I did think East of Eden was excellent.
Jul. 5th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's one HECK of a question. The question intrigued me so much - I went back to the BTT blog to see what others chose(mostly Harper Lee, Mark Twain and John Steinbeck).

All good selections!!! I have deliberated and my choice is...

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Classic story of love, money and the American dream. The language, imagery and symbolism are exquisite. The characters are interesting and complex. And it's such a perfect snapshot of America in the 1920's - but still holds a sense of timelessness.

And like Citizen Kane, it's not my favorite, but one you have to respect for its literary contribution.

(sorry for the ramble)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )