Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book 4, Background Info: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

In 1960 and at the age of 58, John Steinbeck decided to make one last trip around the United States. With his French poodle Charley and a pickup truck converted into a camper, he traveled across this country, roughly around the boarder of the continental US.

Trying to find and talk to the "New American" he purposely tried to avoid major highways and cities, opting to travel the old, quiet back-roads that once linked this country together.

What's interesting about this work is that it is not so much a "road book" but rather a report of the death of early America. Steinbeck needed to see for himself whether or not the hard working, simple country he knew and had brought to light in novels like Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath still existed. While he still came across pockets of this simple life, he was begrudgingly taught that the world that he once new was dying with his generation.

With the proliferation of nuclear arms, the Vietnam War, violence stemming from the civil rights movement, etc., history has taught us that this age of American innocence truly faded away just a few short years after this book was published.

Click pictures above to check out more information on Travels with Charley.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have just reached the point where Steinbeck & Charley are heading into Montana. His description of the sanitary interstate travel and soul-less sprawl seems like 2010 rather than 1960. I didn't realize it started that far back...