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Monday, March 2, 2020

The Greatest Artist

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists.  Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts, since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”—John Steinbeck.

Born in California on Feb. 27, 1902, Steinbeck was the son of an upper middle class family and lived a comfortable life, unlike many of the hardscrabble families and individuals he portrayed in many of his writings.    Like many of the great writers of the early to mid-20th Century he was a newspaper reporter first.  And like many of his contemporaries, including good friend Ernest Hemingway, he spent time as a war correspondent during World War II following the phenomenal success of his 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath, which won both the National Book Award and The Pulitzer Prize.

A self-taught writer, starting at age 14, he said in later life that he wished he would have spent more time under the tutelage of some of the teachers who made a lifelong impression on him and his work.  The power of a good teacher, he said, is immeasurable

Besides Grapes, Steinbeck wrote three dozen other novels, including Of Mice and Men, Tortilla Flats, and The Long Valley.   Several of his books were made into movies, including his nonfiction opus, Travels with Charley about his 1960 nationwide road trip (in a camper with his faithful dog).   In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his life’s body of work.    

 “A question is a trap,” Steinbeck wrote in Travels with Charley,  “and an answer is your foot in it.”

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