||JOHN STEİNBECK (1902-1968
John Steinbeck toplumda dışlanmış insanların dünyasına
sevecen yaklaşan bir yazardı. Özellikle 1930 ekonomik bunalımının, California
yöresindeki tarım işçilerine etkilerini, bireysel yaşamlarını, doğal ortamında
toplumsal bir yaklaşımla anlatmıştır.
Steinbeck 27 şubat 1902'de Salinas'ta doğdu. Babası yerel bir politikacı,
annesi öğretmen, Alman İrlanda kırması, Big-Sur'a yerleşmiş göçmen
bir aileden geliyordu. Steinbeck'in romanlarında sıkça duyulan tarım kokusu,
çocukluğunun da böyle bir ortamda geçmiş olmasından kaynaklanır.
Stanford Üniversitesi'nden (1920-26) mezun olmadı. Bir ara Panama'ya gitti.
Oradan New York'a geçti. Hedefi iyi bir gazeteci olmaktı. Beceremeyince,
New York'ta girip çıkmadığı iş kalmadı. Californiya?ya dönmek zorunda kaldı.
Evlendikten sonra, doğum yeri olan Salinas yakınındaki Monterey'e yerleşti.
İlk iki romanını kimse basmadı. Umutsuzluktan üçüncü romanıyla birlikte
Yoğun duygusallık içeren basılmış ilk romanı Altın Kupa'yı (1929) karlı
bir göl kıyısında, bir kulübede bekçilik yaparken yazdı. Lisedeyken kaleme
aldığı, A Lady In Infrared' Kızılötesinde Bir Bayan' adlı öyküsünü
The Pastures of Heaven, Cennetin Çayırları, (1923) ve yazım tekniğini
geliştirdiği, To A God Unknown Bilinmeyen Bir Tanrıya (1933) kitapları
izlediyse de bunlar pek yankı bulmadı.
1935 Steinbeck'in yazarlık yaşamının dönüm noktasıdır. Meksika'dan göç eden
İspanyol-Kızılderili kırması, evsiz barksız Paisona'ların dünyaya boş vermişliğini
tatlı buruk bir dille anlattığı, Tortilla Flat, Yukarı Mahalle, adlı roman,
düşsel bir gerçekçilik içerir. Bu kitabıyla çıraklığı noktalanır. Bu kitap
Steinbeck yazarlık hevesinden dolayı sürekli geçim sıkıntısı çekiyordu.
Birinci eşi Carol çeşitli işlerde çalışıyor, kendisi ise içki yasağı yıllarında
evsiz barksız sokak serserileri, balıkçılar ve işçilerle kaçak şarap içiyor,
onların yaşamlarını paylaşıyordu.
?In Dubıons Battle, Bitmeyen Kavga? (1939); bir zamanlar kendisinin de aralarında
yaşadığı meyve toplayıcılarının sendikal uğraşlarını konu alan bu roman,
çok ilgi uyandırmadı. Kendisine Amerika'da komünist anlamına gelen kızıl?
damgasının vurulmasına neden oldu.
Oysa bu roman günümüz Amerikan yazın dünyasında İngiliz dilinin en çarpıcı
kitaplarından biri olma beğenisini sürdürüyor.
Kısa roman türünün en güzel örneklerinden biri olan ve iki göçerin dramını
anlatan Of Mice and Men- Fareler ve İnsanlar daha sonra tiyatroya
uyarlandığında, dünyanın pek çok ülkesinde sahnelendi, filme çekildi ve
TV filmi yapıldı. Psikolojik ağırlıklı oyun, Amerika Drama Eleştirmenleri
Steinbeck yazarlığının doruğuna The Grapes of Wrath - Gazap Üzümleri adlı
romanıyla çıktı. Bu roman kendisine Pulitzer Ödülü'nü de kazandırdı. Oklahama'daki
evlerinden büyük sanayici ve bankacıların zoruyla koparılmış küçük bir ailenin,
Californiya'ya göç öyküsünün anlatıldığı roman yüzü aşkın dile çevrildi,
filmi ve tiyatrosu yapıldı. Bu yapıt Steinbeck'in tartışmasız en iyi kitabı
olarak kabul edilir.Yayımlandığı an 1 milyonluk satışı ile rekorlar kırmış,
öykünün geçtiği 66. cadde yüzbinlerce turist çekmiştir.
2. Dünya Savaşı'nda bazı propaganda kitapları da yazdı. İkisi de 1942?de
yayınlanan The Moon Is Down - Ay Battı� ve Bombs Away - Bombalar Öte kitapları
bunların arasındadır.New York Herald Tribune gazetesi adına Avrupa?da savaş
muhabirliği yaptı. Röportajlarını Francisco News Bir Savaş Vardı
adlı kitapta topladı.
Savaş sonrasının ilk romanı Cannery Row - Sardalye Sokağı (1945) ise yazarın
en önemli üç kitabından biri oldu.. Filme çekildi. Bunu Pearl - İnci� (1945)
ve savaşın neden olduğu toplumdaki açgözlülüğün acı bir dille anlatıldığı
The Wayward Bus - Aşk Otobüsü (1947) izledi.
Burning Bright - Alev ( 1950) ve East of Eden Cennetin Doğusu
(1952) adlı romanları ile Steinbeck, o güne değin alışılmış konuların dışına
Yukarı Mahalle ve Sardalye Sokağı'nı tamamlayan Monterey dizisinin üçüncü
kitabı Sweet Thursday - Tatlı Perşembe' yi (1954) yayımladı.
The Short Reign of Pipin IV - Dördüncü Pippin'in Kısa Saltanatı (1957) The
Winter of Our Discontent - Mutsuzluğumuzun Kışı, Travels With Charley -
Charley ile Seyahat (1962) ise daha hafif olup gazetecilik gözlemlerini
Uzun öykü kitapları arasında ise ?Saint Katy, The Virgin - Bakire
Aziz Katy, (1936) ; The Red Pony - Al Midilli (1937) The Long Valley
- Uzun Vadi (1938) Sovyetler Birliği'ndeki günlerini anlatan - Russian
Journey - Rusya Yolculuğu (1948) yer alır.
Steinbeck başlangıçtaki ününü, bireylerin evliyalık ve günahkârlık arasında
değişen zengin karakter yelpazesini, toplumsal çerçeveye oturttuğu, proleter
çizgi ve doğasal anlatıma borçludur. Steinbeck'in zengin simgeselliğini,
şiirsel ve masalsı anlatımını inceleyen pek çok inceleme kitabı yayınlandı.
Doktora tezleri yazıldı. Yaşamının son yıllarında proleter çizgiden uzaklaşınca,
edebiyat dünyasında değişik tepki ve eleştiriler aldı; döneklikle" suçlandı.
Türkçeye en çok çevrilen Amerikan yazarıdır. 1962'de Nobel Ödülünü kazandı.
ABD Başkanı Lyndon Johnson "Özgürlük Madalyası" verdi. Steinbeck böylece
hem Pulitzer hem de Nobel kazanan tek Amerikalı yazar oldu?
20 Aralık 1968'de öldü?
John Steinbeck - To a God Unknown
Saturday, January 31, 2009 Damian Kelleher
To a God Unknown is John Steinbeck's second novel, published four years
after the unsuccessful but promising, Cup of Gold. Steinbeck spent a great
deal of time writing a much larger story than To a God Unknown would eventually
become, biting off a great deal more than he could, at the time, chew. Pared
down to roughly two hundred and thirty pages, To a God Unknown is a story
of the farmer Joseph Wayne as he struggles to gain a foothold for his family
in the new, unclaimed land of California. Joseph's father, who always wished
to see the new land, dies before the family leaves but after Joseph has
gone and Joseph, exultant at California's fertility, begins to believe that
his father's spirit inhabits a tree near his new home.
Joseph is a man unknown as much as Joseph's tree becomes his unknown God.
His brothers and their wives and children, who follow him to California
after he tells them the land is good, respect and admire him, and follow
him, but they do not know him. Rama, Joseph's brother Thomas' wife, is a
strong, full-breasted woman with black brows that nearly met over her nose.
She is one of the first to recognise Joseph's pagan understanding with the
tree, perhaps because she shares a deep knowledge of unspoken things herself.
Joseph is attuned to the earth, considering that his fortunes will rise
and fall with it, and that the duty of caring for the land is his and his
alone. Rama's knowledge is hearth-based, revolving around children and birthing
and marriages and relationships, but she connects with Joseph in a way that
his brothers cannot.
Steinbeck builds the mystery surrounding Joseph and his inner knowledge
well. Though we are almost always 'carried along' with Joseph as he tends
the land and finds a wife and has a child, we are rarely made aware of his
actual thoughts. We, as much as his family, can only observe, though we
do perhaps understand his bond with the tree better because we see the effect
it has on him. As the novel progresses and Joseph ties himself to the land
with the tight ropes of childbirth and death, Steinbeck pulls back even
further from Joseph, to the extent where before it was as though we were
walking alongside him, but now we are viewing him from a distance. The greater
the distance between Joseph and the reader the larger he becomes, threatening
to swamp the narrative with the force of his personality.
For all that the novel sounds like a mystical, pagan dance, it is actually
quite earthy and lively. Much time is devoted to explaining and exploring
the land, the animals and the plants and the tending of cows and crops,
and much time is given to the goings on of Joseph's extended family. There
are extended passages on farming, such as, Joseph worked tremendously in
the prodigal spring. He cut the bull calves, moved rocks out of the flowers'
way, and went out with his new branding-iron to burn his 'JW' into the skins
of the stocks... Farming, and the farm life, and how the rains affect the
fortunes, moods and possibilities of the family, are paramount to the novel.
Joseph is, however, the centre, of the novel and the family and the land,
which makes his presence felt everywhere. As Rama says to Joseph's brand
new wife Elizabeth, I do not know whether there are men born outside humanity,
or whether some men are so human as to make others seem unreal. Perhaps
a godling lives on earth now and then...
Joseph's connection to the earth is a primal one, something he feels within
every particle of himself. But his connection to the tree is greater and
when, roughly halfway into the novel, the tree dies, the novel shifts tone
and becomes something darker, less about the potential of newness and prosperity
and more about the dissolution of lives and the absence of hope. Steinbeck
brings Joseph's paganism to the fore as he rejects ordinary civilisation
and comes to resemble a man he and his brother once met earlier, a man who
would sacrifice a small animal to the sun each day as it died in the West.
The central theme of the novel is belief. Each characters hold a strong
belief inside themselves, some ordinary, others not. Rama, as mentioned
above, has the belief and the knowledge of homely matters; Elizabeth, Joseph's
wife, becomes something of a primal mother when she has her first child;
Burton, Joseph's brother, is devoutly, obsessively Christian and the list
goes on. Joseph's belief is greater than the others, to the point where
they begin to feel swamped by his power and must leave. But is his belief
true? What he believes seems to occur, but that doesn't mean much religion,
no matter how primitive or advanced, has a certain knack for explaining
events in a way that makes it seems foretold. Steinbeck extends the novel
or, rather, Joseph's belief, as far as it can possibly go, taking events
to their natural, satisfactory end. To a God Unknown is a strange novel,
powerful and cohesive but odd, as though Joseph's importance was never fully
pushed on to the reader. There are times when we believe Joseph's belief,
and times when we do not, just as there are times when he really does seem
more knowing of the land and the trees and stars than anyone else, and times
when we can, just like Burton and Rama and the others, both fear and ridicule
the strength of his convictions, convictions based on little more than the
fluttering of leaves on a tree, and the chill breath of wind before it rains.
Steinbeck was not wholly successful with To a God Unknown, but he didn't
fail, either. The ordinary, life on the farm aspects of the novel are confident
and assured, showing hints of his later and greater achievements in that
area. Joseph's mysticism, however, fails at times, particularly near the
end when Steinbeck attempts to link Joseph, at least in his mind, to the
power and importance of Christ. A noble attempt, and worth the read.
||Atina'lıların Bilinmeyen Tanrısı
Agnostos Theos - Unknown God of Athens"
In addition to the twelve main gods and the innumerable
lesser deities, ancient Greeks worshiped a deity they called Agnostos Theos,
that is: the Unknown god. In Athens, there was a temple specifically dedicated
to that god and very often Athenians would swear "in the name of the Unknown
god" (Νή τόν Άγνωστον Ne ton Agnoston). Apollodorus, Philostratus and
Pausanias wrote about the Unknown god as well. The Unknown god was not
so much a specific deity, but a placeholder, for whatever god or gods actually
existed but whose name and nature were not revealed to the Athenians or
the Hellenized world at large.
According to a story told by Diogenes Laërtius, Athens was once in the grips
of a plague and desperate to appease the gods with the appropriate sacrifices.
Thus Epimenides gathered a flock of sheep to the Areopagus and released
them. The sheep roamed about Athens and the surrounding hills. On Epimenides'
suggestion wherever a sheep stopped and lay down a sacrifice was made to
the local god of that place. Many of the gardens and buildings of Athens
were indeed associated with a specific god or goddess and so the appropriate
altar was constructed and the sacrifice was made. However, at least one,
if not several sheep led the Athenians to a location that had no god associated
with it. Thus an altar was built there without a god's name inscribed upon
To A God Unknown
John Steinbeck's View of God
John Steinbeck was born in the Salinas Valley, California,
in 1902 and is best known either for The Grapes of Wrath, written in 1939,
which sold 400,000 copies in its first year and 50,000 copies every year
since in the USA alone, has never been out of-print and is regarded in many
USA schools as history, or for East of Eden, written in 1952, undoubtedly
his longest and major work (265,000 words), a national best seller, and
clearly autobiographical. He died in 1968 but not before he had written
some 26 novels and plays, several collections of short stories and numerous
newspaper articles, gained the Nobel Prize for literature and established
himself as the last of a generation of American writers which included Scott
Fitzgerald and Hemingway.
He went to Stamford University but did not fit the system and achieved little.
His teachers said he was of average mentality but woefully immature emtionally.
From an early age he wanted to be a writer and many of his classmates thought
he would be a preacher. He felt as if he belonged to a community which came
from Europe in search of a new world, as reflected in The Grapes of Wrath,
and having settled first in the East and then moved to California in search
of Eden, East of Eden is his family story. He married three times, the first
two marriages breaking down and his third wife surviving him. A good lover
but a lousy husband was how he described himself.
Apart from stimulating interest in his work among readers unfamiliar with
him, the purpose of this study is to explore his understanding of God as
revealed in his writings, and to suggest possible avenues for further exploration
His Religious Beliefs
Of his religious beliefs little can be said. His Episcopalian parents introduced
him to the Bible and the traditions of the faith from the beginning. His
mother, a teacher, read to him from an early age, including Bible stories
when he was three! Later, he wrote, Literature was in the air around me.
The Bible I absorbed through my skin.
Hardly surprising, therefore, that his novels are full of bibical imagery
and symbolism, but in his early teens he began to question the idea of God
and the place of religion. Organised and institutional religion played
little part in his life thereafter and he could never be described as a
religious man, though later he was much influenced by writers like Thoreau,
Emerson, Whitman and the American Transcendentalists and there is plenty
evidence for the presence of God and Christian teaching in his writings
for those who are prepared to look outside conventional patterns.
To explore that understanding we have three windows, which cannot be isolated
from each other and most of which turn up in nearly everything he wrote,
though the emphases vary: First, overt biblical references, sometimes in
titles, sometimes in people and sometimes in content,The Grapes of Wrath
and East of Eden being the two most obvious examples.
Second, underlying though barely below the surface, biblical themes and
imagery, like the wilderness, sibling jealousy, water, and theological experiences
(if not language) relating to guilt, sin and forgiveness.
Third, the characters he creates and the characters whose company he obviously
enjoys tell us something about the values he embraces and are a reflection
of the God who motivates him.
If The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden intertwine the overt with the underlying,
To a God Unknown is more direct, though not necessarily more transparent.
Steinbeck went out of his way to dissociate it from the unknown God at
Athens by insisting on the changed word order. This is a god who was
unexplored rather than one simply not recognised.
Joseph Wayne leaves home at the age of 35. There is insufficient to support
the family. His father recognises the reality but regrets the decision because
although Joseph is not the eldest his father had always thought of him as
the one to receive the blessing.
When Joseph arrives in his new land, the endless green halls and aisles
and alcoves seemed to have meanings as obscure and promising as the symbols
of an ancient religion. Joseph shivered and closed his eyes . . . . as .
. . fear came upon him that this land might be the figure of a dream which
would dissolve into a dry and dusty morning.
From here it is but a short step to a sense of awe, the numinous and
Ottos mysterium tremendum, and much of what one finds in the Vedic
hymn could be paralleled in the Psalms in the Old Testament. Joseph
bends down, pats the earth with his hand and develops a new respect for
nature. He forms a friendship with a local Indian, Juanito, and tells him
he feels the land is full of ghosts, except that the ghosts are the reality
what lives here is more real than we are. Juanito explains to him how
the dead never go away the earth is our mother, and everything that lives
has life from its mother and goes back to its mother. Here is another
world almost another deity.
In the centre of an open glade is a rock as big as a house something like
an altar. Theres something here, says Joseph, . . . I know it . . .
This is holy and this is old. This is ancient and holy,
Matters come to a head when he takes his bride home on their wedding night.
All goes well until they reach the pass, where the mountain was split and
the road blasted out of the hillside. Suddenly Elizabeth is stricken with
fear and cant go on. Her heart keeps missing a beat. The atmosphere is
electric. Even the horses sense it.
There is no easy or rational explanation but Joseph suggests that perhaps
it has something to do with the wedding night, and that what she is feeling
(and fearing) is going through the pass to a new life.
Yesterday we were married and it was no marriage, he says. This is our
marriage through the pass entering the passage like sperm and egg that
have become a single unit of pregnancy. This is a symbol of the undistorted
real . . . I want to go through the pass.
Im afraid, Joseph, Elizabeth replies. I dont know why, but Im terribly
afraid . . . Ill go . . . Ill have to go, but Ill be leaving myself behind.
Ill think of myself standing here looking through at the new one who will
be on the other side. (pp 67 9).
There are undertones here of Isaacs blessing and Jacobs ladder as he leaves
the familiar home territory for an unknown world, not very different from
the feelings we have when we leave one home for another, one job for another
or one phase of life for another, in search of the God of the undistorted
real. The numinous in Steinbeck reflects parts of Genesis and chimes
in with many of our emotions in similar circumstances, and Pauls need to
die to the old in order to enter into the new may all bring us closer
to God than the idols of Athens.
One cannot help but wonder if Elizabeth ever did what she said she would
do. Or if Paul in the years of imprisonment ever went back in his imagination
to see that man who stumbled on the Damascus Road and look again at the
new one . . . on the other side. Yet this is what Steinbeck seems to be
encouraging us to do, and the discovery (if we make it) is not only of ourselves,
but also of our God and perhaps of Steinbecks God as well.
To a God Unknown: John Steinbeck
To a god unknown is a strange book. published in 1933,
it is steinbecks third work. although it is set in a familiar steinbeck-ian
california valley, this book is different from others. it has none of the
social-political observations of the grapes of wrath or of mice and men,
and while it has religious themes such as east of eden, they are not typical
religious themes. to a god unknown is about christianity, yes, but it is
also about pagan beliefs and myths.
To A God Unknown is also an entrancing story. A man by the name of Joseph
Wayne has homesteaded a 600 acre ranch in California with his three brothers.
Their father died shortly before they came west, and Joseph comes to the
belief that his Fathers soul resides in the large oak tree next to his
new house. Josephs bible-thumping brother Burton is not pleased with this
pagan belief, and abandons the homestead after Joseph refuses to change.
What is interesting is that later in the novel, it becomes evident that
Joseph really does not believe that his father resides in the oak tree;
he merely needed a belief to hold and Christianity wasnt cutting it for
Joseph goes through a series of disheartening events, including: his brother
is accidently killed, the death of his wife, and a severe drought.
This leads to what I believe is really the major theme of the novel: People
believe whatever helps them cope with the world, and the truth behind the
beliefs has no consequence. Several of the characters in the story, including
Joseph, stumble across a special place in the woods: a clearing with a large
moss-covered rock in the center, and a stream flowing out of the rock. This
mysterious grotto seems to have special, secret powers, and people seek
The interpretation of this gets tricky: it could be argued that the rock
symbolizes God or the divine; it could symbolize a return to Nature. But
what I think it really stands for is, as Joseph Wayne seems to admit to
himself as he lies atop the rock at the books closure: he does not believe
in God, and he does not believe in worshipping Nature, but he does feel
close to the Earth. His brother and others around him interpret this as
pagan devil worship, but for Joseph, it is only something to keep his mind
occupied from the meaningless existence that he leads. As he thinks of a
mysterious pagan like ritual that he once observed an old man make, and
he considers performing it himself, he ultimately decides His secret was
for him, he said. It wont work for me.
This reminds me of a line from The Grapes of Wrath that I believe seems
to be the sum of Steinbecks philosophy as a whole: There aint no sin,
and there aint no virtue. Theres just stuff people do. Its all part of
the same thing. Jackson Benson describes this tendency as non-teleological
thinking, and it appears to be quite pervasive throughout Steinbecks work.
Anyways, I plan to explore this topic more once I get to The Grapes of Wrath.
Posted by Joshua Chrysler at 3:02 PM