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Travels with Charley in Search of America (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)by John Steinbeck
Knowing he was dying, John Steinbeck customized a camper-truck and dubbed it Rocinante after Don Quixote's horse. With his dog Charley (Steinbeck's own Sancho Panza) riding along, the melancholic writer circumnavigates the country. This travelogue captures a 1960s America in the Nobel Prize-winning prose that has proven timeless.
Synopses & Reviews
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley in Search of America is animated by Steinbeck?s attention to the specific details of the natural world and his sense of how the lives of people are intimately connected to the rhythms of nature?to weather, geography, the cycle of the seasons. His keen ear for the transactions among people is evident, too, as he records the interests and obsessions that preoccupy the Americans he encounters along the way.
Travels with Charley in Search of America, originally published in 1962, provides an intimate and personal look at one of America?s most beloved writers in the later years of his life?a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. It was written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South?which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand?and is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade.
In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley; and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.
His course took him through almost forty states: northward from Long Island to Maine; through the Midwest to Chicago; onward by way of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana (with which he fell in love), and Idaho to Seattle, south to San Francisco and his birthplace, Salinas; eastward through the Mojave, New Mexico, Arizona, to the vast hospitality of Texas, to New Orleans and a shocking drama of desegregation; finally, on the last leg, through Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to New York.
Travels with Charley in Search of America is an intimate look at one of America's most beloved writers in the later years of his life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. Written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—Travels with Charley is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade. This Penguin Classics edition includes an introduction by Jay Parini.
Today, nearly forty years after his death, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck remains one of America?s greatest writers and cultural figures. Over the next year, his many works published as black-spine Penguin Classics for the first time and will feature eye-catching, newly commissioned art.
Penguin Classics is proud to present these seminal works to a new generation of readers?and to the many who revisit them again and again."
About the Author
JOHN STEINBECK (19021968) 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 Steinbec‛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.
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