Tuesday, March 01, 2011

On John Steinbeck and "The Beauty of Wisconsin" (with video)

From Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' (Florence Owens Thompson) series, Nipomo, California, early spring 1936. (photo: Dorothea Lange)

John Cory (Reader Supported News):
When he began the book, he wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this."

It started three years earlier as a series of articles for the San Francisco News. He investigated camp life, and even drove Route 66 so he would know the terrain. He walked and talked with the people, capturing language and lives, and then put ink to paper.

The book was an immediate bestseller - revered and reviled - banned and bought. The corporate world denounced the author; the FBI compiled a file to track him, and radio and political pundits pummeled him. He was called a socialist, a communist, a propagandist, and for good measure, a socialistic communist propagandist agitator. One slur is never enough.

The book spent a year on the bestseller list and won a Pulitzer Prize. A year later it was turned into a movie. Twenty years after its publication, the author won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

John Steinbeck wrote "The Grapes of Wrath" to tell the story of the Great Depression. Of farmers turned into migrants, of every-day citizens turned into beggars, while the corporate owners grew fat and fierce and greedy for more. He wrote to give hope amidst the vicious and divisive tactics of corporations and to remind them and us: "... the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed."

At the end of the film version of "The Grapes of Wrath," Tom Joad lays it out: "... A fella ain't got a soul of his own - just a little piece of a big soul. The one big soul that belongs to everybody ..."

And there is the beauty of Wisconsin. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I wonder if he is overselling the great Badger people of Wisconsin. I hope not.

"Woody Guthrie-This Land Is Your Land "-alargedog, video (02:18).

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