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Grapes of Wrath, The

The Grapes of Wrath, War and Peace

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Francis Edward Grainger Biography to Thomas Anstey Guthrie Biography

a novel by John Steinbeck, published in 1939. Steinbeck's finest novel, The Grapes of Wrath is a fictional record of the migration of the ‘Okies’ (largely tenant farmers from Oklahoma and western Arkansas, though the term was used disparagingly of migrants from contiguous states such as Kansas, Missouri, and Texas) from the Southwestern states to California in the 1930s, a migration mainly brought on by the dust storms (‘the dust bowl’) of 1933 and 1935. Though the novel is almost Tolstoyan in scale—indeed, its use of intercalary, generalizing chapters is drawn from Tolstoy's War and Peace—it concentrates on the fortunes of the Joad family and through its protagonist, Tom Joad, it articulates a life-affirming ‘mystical socialism’ and speaks eloquently for the concerns of the deprived and the dispossessed. Peter Lisca's 1972 edition of the novel includes a number of critical documents which are indispensable to its study.

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