John Steinbeck

Bilinmeyen Bir Tanrıya

John Steinbeck



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17.07.2013


  Editörün Notu : 1962 yılında Nobel Edebiyat ödülünü alan John Steinbeck'in "Bilinmeyen bir Tanrıya" adlı eseri, insanın doğa, tanrı ve gerçeklerle ilişkisini ortaya koyan bir destandır. Yeni bir hayat kurmak üzere batıya giden Wayne yörenin doğasıyla, insanlarıyla mistik bir bağ kurar. Tabiata tutku ile bağlanan Wayne. çiftliğindeki devasa meşe ağacının babasının ruhunu barındırdığına inanır. Ancak ailesinin hoşgörüsüzlük ve bağnazlığı Wayne'in kaderini değiştirecektir.

  JOHN STEİNBECK (1902-1968 )
Karakutu.com

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 bunları yaktı.

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 genişleterek oluşturdu.

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 filme çekilir?

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 Ödülü'nü kazandı.

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 çıktı.

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 aktarır.

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
http://www.damiankelleher.com

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).[1] Apollodorus, Philostratus and Pausanias wrote about the Unknown god as well.[2] 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 it.

To A God Unknown
http://www.gilco.org.

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’.[1] 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 and research.

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.’[2]

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.[3] 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[4] 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[5] 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[24] by insisting on the changed word order. This is ‘a god who was unexplored’ rather than one simply not recognised.[25]

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.’[26]

From here it is but a short step to a sense of awe,[27] the numinous and Otto’s mysterium tremendum,[28] and much of what one finds in the Vedic hymn[29] 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.[30] 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. ‘There’s something here,’ says Joseph, ‘. . . I know it . . . This is holy — and this is old. This is ancient — and holy,’[31]

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 can’t 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.’[32]

‘I’m afraid, Joseph’, Elizabeth replies. ‘I don’t know why, but I’m terribly afraid . . . I’ll go . . . I’ll have to go, but I’ll be leaving myself behind. I’ll 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 Isaac’s blessing and Jacob’s 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’.[33] The numinous in Steinbeck reflects parts of Genesis[34] and chimes in with many of our emotions in similar circumstances, and Paul’s need to die to the old in order to enter into the new[35] 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 Steinbeck’s God as well.


To a God Unknown: John Steinbeck
http://afewthoughts1.blogspot.com

To a god unknown is a strange book. published in 1933, it is steinbeck’s 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 Father’s soul resides in the large oak tree next to his new house. Joseph’s 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 wasn’t cutting it for him.

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 it out.

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 book’s 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 won’t work for me.’”

This reminds me of a line from The Grapes of Wrath that I believe seems to be the sum of Steinbeck’s philosophy as a whole: “There ain’t no sin, and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing.” Jackson Benson describes this tendency as ‘non-teleological thinking’, and it appears to be quite pervasive throughout Steinbeck’s 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

 

       
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