Steinbeck and His Critics

I have always liked this book very much.  I cite it as an example of books that I will discuss from time to time on this blog because I find it interesting.  I like the book mainly because it is a both a book about Steinbeck and an anthology that includes his work.  I also like it because it is an excellent example of how a book collector can color their collection by thinking outside the box.  When I began collecting books more than 45 years ago, collectors collected an author and tried to obtain most or all of that writer’s works.  Over the years collecting has changed (and not necessarily for the good) wherein collectors want only an author’s high spots.  This limited vision excludes all the books that set their collection apart from any other collections.  Why not include books about your favorite author as part of your collection?  Why not include film posters from some of your favorite movies made from your guy’s works?  Why shouldn’t you collect important books about your favorite writer as part of your collection?  Think broadly, my friend.  You and your collection will be better for this broader view.

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Steinbeck and His Critics, edited by E. W. Tedlock, Jr. and C. V. Wicker, was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 1957.  There have been several printings.    The book includes 29 articles about Steinbeck by 17 critics.  Those critics include Frederic I. Carpenter, Lewis Gannett, Stanley Edgar Hyman, Joseph Wood Krutch, Peter Lisca, and others. I am pleased that the co-editors included Hyman’s contribution because he never had anything good to say about Steinbeck.  I say this even though I am on the other side of the equation because I am trying to practice what I preach about broad thinking from an intellectual point of view.  Steinbeck contributes six “reactions” to criticism, two of which appear here for the first time.  The book is cited by the Goldstone & Payne bibliography of Steinbeck as B104.  It is item No. 352 in the famous Morrow catalogue devoted to Steinbeck which was issued in 1980.  It is a tough book to find in fine condition.

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This particular copy is unique.  It is a presentation copy from one of the co-author/editors to the other.  In  this case, Tedlock inscribes the book to his partner, C. V. Wicker, to wit:  “Dear Wick:  I remember the best work we did on Saturday mornings, aided by that good coffee Mary and Bertha made for us.  There we had man’s endeavors in a right context  —  one could do worse than measure out one’s life with such spoons.  Hard work done well?  Yes!  But on a fine morning among friends at its best, and best remembered.  Yours, Ted.”  This specific copy was also extra-illustrated with newspaper clippings about Steinbeck and this book which were laid loosely into the book, along with a carbon of a lengthy letter from Steinbeck to the director of the University of New Mexico Press about the book.  In short, this copy has everything a collector wants for his collection  —  edition, condition, all the original equipment, importance, and uniqueness.

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