[[ Read Best ]] To a God UnknownAuthor John Steinbeck – Schematicwiringdiagram.co

While fulfilling his dead father s dream of creating a prosperous farm in California, Joseph Wayne comes to believe that a magnificent tree on the farm embodies his father s spirit His brothers and their families share in Joseph s prosperity and the farm flourishes until one brother, scared by Joseph s pagan belief, kills the tree and brings disease and famine on the farm Set in familiar Steinbeck country, To a God Unknown is a mystical tale, exploring one man s attempt to control the forces of nature and to understand the ways of God


10 thoughts on “To a God Unknown

  1. Dolors Dolors says:

    Steinbeck s second novella isthan the sum of words that composes it On the surface, a story of a young man called Joseph Wayne who leaves his homeland in Vermont to establish his own farm in Our Lady of the Valley, California Underneath, a parable that is a converging point between pagan rites, Greek myths and the Old Testament, rich with allegorical meaning and thought provoking interpretations.The lush, fertile valley that Joseph selects to start a family and a cluster of farms with hi Steinbeck s second novella isthan the sum of words that composes it On the surface, a story of a young man called Joseph Wayne who leaves his homeland in Vermont to establish his own farm in Our Lady of the Valley, California Underneath, a parable that is a converging point between pagan rites, Greek myths and the Old Testament, rich with allegorical meaning and thought provoking interpretations.The lush, fertile valley that Joseph selects to start a family and a cluster of farms with his brothers, where harsh work translates into prosperity, seems to be inexplicably interconnected to an ancient oak tree that becomes Joseph s particular place of veneration He listens to the crackling sound of boughs and leaves in the restless wind, caresses its bark and seeks its silent advice, as if his father s spirit were lodged in it, as if all the doubts could be dispelled in the sap that infuses life in the tree.But blessings can turn into curses, and the rains that showered the valley with blossoming abundance suddenly run dry, turning a fecund land into a sterile, parched desert where death and desolation obliterate all trace of bygone love and fortune.Steinbeck s novel follows a linear narrative that is strongly marked by the passing seasons, but its heart pulsates in the silences of what is not written, and only sensed by the careful reader The storyline is replete with undisclosed but powerful forces that bespeak of the abyss of a life greater than our own With atmospheric descriptions of the landscape and sparse dialogue, Steinbeck builds a whole universe, the history of mankind in littlethan two hundred pages Joseph s love is collective and all embracing men, women, children of all races and tribes, but also the earth with its rivers, valleys and wildlife, are the recipients of his spiritual compulsion Religious intolerance and a number of fatal accidents will threaten Joseph s soul, this anima mundi that inhabits in him and that keeps the balance of things, and a sacrifice will be required to restore the natural cycle in the shriveled valley.Over brimming with symbolism, allegorical patterns and wisdom of the kind that is bred with life experience, this novel is a delicious moral tale about the perennial aspects of earthly life and the all abiding energy that bond mankind to the land, for better or worse


  2. BlackOxford BlackOxford says:

    In a dry year all signs fail There is little doubt that the migrants to the Salinas Valley of central California around the turn of the 20th century thought they had arrived in Paradise like the Spanish and native settlers before them This is why Joseph and his brothers quit their inhospitable Vermont The climate was perfect The resources and beauty abundant The soil was fecund and waiting for seed And the available technology was just right to exploit it all.But the beautiful land has In a dry year all signs fail There is little doubt that the migrants to the Salinas Valley of central California around the turn of the 20th century thought they had arrived in Paradise like the Spanish and native settlers before them This is why Joseph and his brothers quit their inhospitable Vermont The climate was perfect The resources and beauty abundant The soil was fecund and waiting for seed And the available technology was just right to exploit it all.But the beautiful land has a history, mostly unrecorded and it has ghosts The ghosts include the present inhabitants, not only those of the past some are even imported The most recent ghosts are only vaguely aware of the history of the beautiful land They live in a sort of hopeful fantasy of better things to come.The fantasy calms the fears generated by the history But not entirely Certain mysteries in the land and in other people don t conform to the demands of the fantasy These are annoying aberrations which pick away at one s consciousness Both the land and people behave irrationally.The problem with fantasy is that it becomes toxic like an infected wound if it isn t expressed and shared Unfulfilled visions become resentments Inarticulate dreams develop into emotional cancers Thethey are disappointed the deeper the fantasies are buried in the unconscious whence they manipulate mercilessly as if their existence is at stake which it is.The personal symbology of fantasy is complex The smell of sage is too intimate to be communicated, even if one were aware of its effect The goat like shape of a mountain crest with glowing eyes at sunset is somehow vitally important, but inexpressibly so Walking through a mountain pass feels like a fundamental change in one s existence but it would sound mad to discuss it Then there s the meaning of a father s blessing an even deeper mystery.Symbology slips into religion, or at least something like it, without warning Hidden meanings emerge from nowhere A boulder in a remote clearing creates fear an unexpected encounter with a bull could signal forthcoming disaster even one s husband can be confused with Christ People can end up worshipping things because of their symbolic power alone When a person becomes a symbol of himself to himself, he is transformed He is no longer strictly human he becomes either divine or demonic, perhaps both He may not realize the change, but others do if it confirms their own hidden fantasies Some call it charisma, this capacity to tap the fantasies of others But it is as likely a personality defect as it is a talent.This is how a husbandman like Joseph sees himself as divinely responsible for his stock, his land, his family and fully competent to lead He is in charge He decides But of course he isn t and he doesn t His fantasy is dependent upon the cooperation of things over which he has no control whatsoever the weather, a mis placed foot, other people, circumstances Perhaps there is a force, an awareness, a world brain as Joseph muses , that knows, perhaps even regrets, how life, which it has helped to emerge, is extinguished If so, it is that which is responsible for turning Paradise into Hell And it is that which has no sentimental fantasies about life or death Hell, it seems, is merely Paradise without the fantasies


  3. Kim Kim says:

    Back in 2012 I embarked on a project of reading my way through the works of John Steinbeck Looking back on it, I should have developed a bitof a plan reading the novels in chronological order probably would have appealed to my Virgo tendencies As it is, I started with Cannery Row, moved on to The Grapes of Wrath and then just read whatever came my way Having finished To a God Unknown, I now only have onenovel Steinbeck s first, Cup of Gold and a couple of volumes of non fictio Back in 2012 I embarked on a project of reading my way through the works of John Steinbeck Looking back on it, I should have developed a bitof a plan reading the novels in chronological order probably would have appealed to my Virgo tendencies As it is, I started with Cannery Row, moved on to The Grapes of Wrath and then just read whatever came my way Having finished To a God Unknown, I now only have onenovel Steinbeck s first, Cup of Gold and a couple of volumes of non fiction to read This work, Steinbeck s second novel, was written over a number of years and underwent significant revision during that time Originally adapted from a play written by a fellow Stanford University student, Steinbeck ultimately moved significantly away from the original work This early in his literary career, Steinbeck wanted to write about archetypes and heroes rather than about the ordinary people whose lives he evoked with such skill in The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row Steinbeck s central character, Joseph Wayne, has little in common with the characters of his best known works Joseph is a visionary, with something of an Old Testament prophet about him a man obsessed with his land A complex, interesting character, he dominates the narrative so much that the other characters are flat when compared to him Other than Joseph Wayne, what is most impressive about the novel is the focus on the Californian setting the landscape is as vital as any human character Steinbeck s description of the natural environment rather than the characters or the underlying philosophy will stay with me for a long time.There are few 20th century writers who speak to me in quite the same way as does Steinbeck It s going to be a sad day when I finally finish the Steinbeck project However, I guess I can always go back to the beginning, maybe with a bitof a plan next time


  4. Richard Derus Richard Derus says:

    Rating how it hurts me to do this, but a squeaking by three stars of fiveSteinbeck s second novel, which he labored over for five years, was damned near never published The title is from a Vedic hymn to Prajapati, who is occasionally the Supreme God and, at other times, an avatar of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Agni, Indra, Vishvakarma, Bharata, Kapila and many others Dalal, Hinduism An Alphabetical Guide The inspiration for the novel s ancient tree spirit, then, explains the novel s compl Rating how it hurts me to do this, but a squeaking by three stars of fiveSteinbeck s second novel, which he labored over for five years, was damned near never published The title is from a Vedic hymn to Prajapati, who is occasionally the Supreme God and, at other times, an avatar of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Agni, Indra, Vishvakarma, Bharata, Kapila and many others Dalal, Hinduism An Alphabetical Guide The inspiration for the novel s ancient tree spirit, then, explains the novel s complete and utter incoherence of purpose Are we pro tree worship or anti We re both But surely on opposite sides the characters discussing the subject arewait, they aren t different characters But, but that s waffling It s not Why isn t that waffling Pshaw, the characters aren t Jungian archetypes and larger than lifewhat There s a thirty seven page essay introducing the book, written by Steinbeck scholar Robert DeMott saying it isn t The prostitution rests.If you need thirty seven pages of waffle to explain why something s good enough to read, nobody wants to read it and for a reason Steinbeck got a few hundred for the book as an advance and, as the opus sold a whopping 598 copies, it lost money The publisher also rejected, in breaking this bad news, Tortilla Flat a sad mistake on his part as that was an altogether superior book and went on to make pots of moolah Read it instead of this one To a God Unknown deserves its commercial and scholarly oblivion


  5. Suzy Suzy says:

    Continuing in my quest to read all of SteinbeckWow, this book affected methan any other book in a long while First, Steinbeck s writing is pure beauty Sometimes I stop and savor each sentence, particularly in descriptive passages, and the perfection with which he writes is unbelievable.Like the protagonist, Joseph, I love and feel connected to nature in a deep and a strong way I also have a strong sense of the sacred that permeates my everyday experiences Joseph seems always distrac Continuing in my quest to read all of SteinbeckWow, this book affected methan any other book in a long while First, Steinbeck s writing is pure beauty Sometimes I stop and savor each sentence, particularly in descriptive passages, and the perfection with which he writes is unbelievable.Like the protagonist, Joseph, I love and feel connected to nature in a deep and a strong way I also have a strong sense of the sacred that permeates my everyday experiences Joseph seems always distracted by this, and thus disconnected from others The novel makes use of a lot of Biblical images from the early books, and since I have been reading those in The Message version of the Bible, I recognized these in relief in a way I probably wouldn t have otherwise This was the passage that struck me most Malcolm Gladwell could have quoted it in Blink It captures the essence of the book You really want to know why I watch the sun why I kill some little creature as it disappears He paused an ran his fingers through his hair I don t know, he said quietly I have made up reasons, but they aren t true I have said to myself, The sun is life I give life to life I make a symbol of the sun s death When I made these reasons, I knew they weren t true He looked around for corroboration.Joseph broke in, These were words to clothe a naked thing, and the thing is ridiculous in clothes You see it I gave up reasons I do this because it makes me glad I do it because I like to I loved this book for its naked, mysterious truth


  6. Susana Susana says:

    review in English below Uau 4 estrelas e meia Nem sei bem que diga, fiquei um bocado abananada por esta hist ria, duma intensidade que parece atravessar d cadas e continentes, transmitida atrav s duma escrita superior, incisiva e sem floreados, mas com uma sensibilidade que me surpreendeu.A hist ria excelente, tal como os personagens e as descri es dos ambientes percept vel que o autor conheceu aqueles locais, mas ilustr los desta forma n o para qualquer um.Foi o meu primeiro Steinbeckreview in English below Uau 4 estrelas e meia Nem sei bem que diga, fiquei um bocado abananada por esta hist ria, duma intensidade que parece atravessar d cadas e continentes, transmitida atrav s duma escrita superior, incisiva e sem floreados, mas com uma sensibilidade que me surpreendeu.A hist ria excelente, tal como os personagens e as descri es dos ambientes percept vel que o autor conheceu aqueles locais, mas ilustr los desta forma n o para qualquer um.Foi o meu primeiro Steinbeck e certamente n o ser o ltimo, embora j tenha lido que em outras obras a escrita n o t o visceral.Tenho pena de n o dar as 5 estrelas, mas houve alguns pormenores pouco veros meis que me fizeram confus o nomeadamente alguns dos pensamentos do protagonista.Muito, muito bom Altamente recomendado P.S Evitem ler a sinopse, pois revela muito mais do que devia Eu n o sabia nada da hist ria e estou convencida que a experi ncia foi melhor por isso Wow Four and a half stars I don t really know what to say, I was a bit overwhelmed by this story, which has an intensity that seems to cross over decades and continents, conveyed through a superior, incisive, bare writing that surprised me, nonetheless, with its sensibility.The story is excellent, and so are the characters and the descriptions of places and ambiences we can see that the author knew those places, but not everyone could depict them like that.This was my first Steinbeck and it certainly won t be my last, although I read somewhere that his writing in other works is not as visceral.I feel bad not giving this book the full 5 stars, but there were some implausible details that confused me namely some of the main character s cogitations.Very, very good Highly recommended P.S Try not to read the synopsis, because it s farrevealing than it should be I had no clue about the story and I m sure that gave me a better experience.


  7. Célia Loureiro Célia Loureiro says:

    ENG To a God Unknown is my first read by Steinbeck I owned an old edition of The Grapes of Wrath, but I remember start reading it and being lost in so much description Description is, precisely, what worked so well in this book The title is a marvel, and the book revolves around its symbology with admirable grace The script is rather simple land in the West Coast is being given away and Joseph Wayne, who always dreamt of possessing something of his own, says goodbye to his dying father and ENG To a God Unknown is my first read by Steinbeck I owned an old edition of The Grapes of Wrath, but I remember start reading it and being lost in so much description Description is, precisely, what worked so well in this book The title is a marvel, and the book revolves around its symbology with admirable grace The script is rather simple land in the West Coast is being given away and Joseph Wayne, who always dreamt of possessing something of his own, says goodbye to his dying father and leaves The book is full of emotion, intuition and supersticion, and I believe the main characters never really forgives himself for having left so abruptly, when his model, the father, had told him that his death was near and that he would then follow him in spirit until his new home The new land is wild and unknown much like its gods , and Steinbeck depicts it in a way that brings us the scent of laurel, humid earth, animal furr, while our audition is visited by the animals pace, the water springs tripping on rocks, and the growl of the coyotes, the stables door sizzling, etc. When it comes to the setting, the book is four dimentional I was surprised by the deepth of humanity in every reaction of this people Joseph ends up gathering his brothers, once they hear of his prosperity Burton and his wife, Jennie, comes along with Thomas and his prole, Rama and the kids, to live side by side with him Joseph is the brother who offerslayers He is a mix of acceptance, enthusiasm, spirituality and at last dispair All in an homogenous way, so though his life is connected to the Earth s, he easily accepts other people s beliefs and he understands them Unlike others around him, who get offended towards those who differ from them, Joseph loves and respects the land, and compromises to protect it from any threat which, for the effect, represent the cyclical years of drought, remembered with angst by the locals of Nuestra Se ora There are indians, portuguese and mexicans living in the surroundings The first believe in the rites of the earth sacrifices, dances and gifts The second and the third ones are deeply catholic, and therefore owe Father Angelo their spiritual salvation The Wayne family is protestant, and Burton, the most religious of the three brothers, feels uncomfortable on that land, which appears to him as heredic and consagrated to the devil On the other hand, Thomas, who s actuallyrude, has an unique connection to animals He respects them, tames tham and inflicts them pain and death as if his soul and theirs was as one He isn t as introspective as Joseph is, but he is equally reflexive and cultivates deep beliefs He is the brother whose religiosity is conservative, but his mind reaches further than his brother s Burton which ideas can t deviate much from the scriptures Joseph, excited by the prespective of a prosperous life, looks around and sees his animals reproducing, the nature in extasy, the sun and the rains in harmony, and he convinces himself that such richness comes from his father s blessing, which spirit would be present in the branches of an old oak tree He seeks advice by that oak, returning whenever he wants to share something that might sound ridiculous to his equals Spirituality appears as something intimate, which advantage is that of making us feel good about the world, and its rites don t need to be imposed to those surrounding us It s also understanable that cracking one s beliefs, just because they seem unlogical, causes major distress Joseph, self satisfied, even agrees with throwing a party to honor his land s fertility, to which he invites Father Angelo The priest celebrates a mass and places the images of Our Lady and Christ in the altar, to be adored This disturbs his brother Burton, who predicts disgrace coming out the idolatry and pagan rites In my opinion, Burton is fearful He believes in a revengeful and choleerc God, a not so tolerat one, and he feels like his brother is exposing them all to an undeserved punishmentIt s a long slow process for a human to die We kill a cow, and it is dead as soon as the meat is eaten, but a man s life dies as a commotion in a still pool dies, in little waves, spreading and growing back toward stillnessThe beauty of the narrative comes from the pueril depictions of nature, and how it appears as sometimes simple, sometimes uncomprehensible It relies, mostly, in the fact that the universe means different things to each character and each one is faithful to what keeps him calm so as Joseph needs the oak to feel safe, Thomas uses the animals to the same effect and Burton seeks comfort in the scriptures and religious camps Some others need to be covered in animal skin and dance over mud, even roll in it, to show their gratitude about the upcomng rain And someothers think that they must sacrifice a creature at every sunset, so that his land will continue on being fertile God is something different to each and everyone of them, and the other s incomprehensin throws shadows upon their existance The main idea to which I agree is that God is a personal entity to each one of us, and you can find it in whatever brings you comfort and peace, without the need of a logical explanation A beautiful treaty on religious tolerance, in a time in which being different means a threat If we re capable of recognizing how intimate is th relationship between each being and the universe, maybe spiritual well being can be reached by everyone I also compliment the timelessly trait of this book, written in 1933 and so contemporaneous, as well as the feminility that comes from its nature in splendor, and the tenderness between Steinbeck s men and their beloved women I can t wait to read this author again PT A Um Deus Desconhecido a minha estreia com Steinbeck Tinha uma edi o antiga de As Vinhas da Ira, mas lembro me de come ar a ler e de ficar perdida em tanta descri o A descri o , precisamente, aquilo que me prendeu de modo t o eficaz a este livro O t tulo delicioso, e o livro dan a em redor da sua simbologia com uma graciosidade admir vel O enredo relativamente simples est o a dar terras na costa Este e Joseph Wayne, que sempre sonhou em possuir algo de seu, despede se do pai, quase um moribundo, e parte Contudo o livro est prenhe de emotividade, de intui o e de supersti o, e creio que a personagem principal n o se perdoa por ter partido de modo t o impaciente, quando o seu modelo, o pai, lhe garante que pouco falta para morrer, e que ent o poderia acompanh lo em esp rito at ao seu novo lar O novo territ rio quase selvagem, e Steinbeck descreve o de modo a que nos chega aos sentidos o perfume dos loureiros, da terra h mida, do p lo das vacas e dos cavalos, enquanto a audi o acompanha os cascos das bestas em trote, os cursos de gua em confronto com as pedras, o uivo dos coiotes, a porta do celeiro que range Em termos de cen rio, o livro a quatro dimens es.Surpreendeu me tamb m a profunda humanidade em cada reac o destas pessoas, porque, em breve, ao dar not cias da sua prosperidade aos irm os, Burton e a esposa, Jennie, e Thomas e a respectiva, Rama, juntam se lhes com a sua horda de filhos Joseph o que nos oferece mais camadas, uma mescla de aceita o, entusiasmo, desalento, espiritualidade e depois desalento Tudo de modo homog neo, apesar de q sua vida estar ligada da sua terra, aceita com facilidade as cren as dos outros e entende as Ao contr rio dos que o rodeiam, que se melindram com os diferentes Joseph ama e respeita a terra, comprometendo se a proteg la de qualquer amea a que, para o efeito, s o os anos de seca c clicos, narrados com dissabor pelos homens da popula o local, Nuestra Se ora Andam por ali ndios, portugueses e mexicanos Os primeiros t m cren as ligadas aos ritos da terra sacrif cios, dan as e oferendas, clareiras sagradas onde grandes rochedos cobertos de musgo convidam as gr vidas reflex o Os segundos e os terceiros s o profundamente cat licos, e devem ao Padre ngelo a sua salva o espiritual O cl Wayne protestante, pelo que Burton, o mais religioso dos irm os, se sente desenraizado naquela terra, que desde o in cio lhe parece herege e devota ao dem nio Por outro lado, Thomas, mais rude, tem uma rela o nica com os animais Respeita os, domestica os, inflinge lhes a dor e a morte como se a sua alma fosse uma s com a deles N o t o reflexivo quanto Joseph, mas igualmente introspectivo e de valores profundos o irm o cuja religiosidade conservadora, mas a mente alcan a um pouco al m das escrituras E depois Joseph, que, no mpeto de se ver feliz e perante uma tal promessa de prosperidade, olha em redor e v os animais a reproduzirem se, a natureza em xtase, o sol e as chuvas em harmonia, e convence se que tanta bonan a adv m da b n o do seu pai, cujo esp rito estaria presente nos ramos de um velho carvalho Junto do carvalho busca conselho, regressando sempre que necessita de partilhar algo que, aos outros, poderia soar rid culo Entende se assim como a espiritualidade algo de ntimo, e que se a sua vantagem a de nos fazer sentir bem com o mundo, ent o os seus ritos n o devem ser impostos a quem nos rodeia Entende se tamb m qu o destabilizador , que algu m nos rache as cren as ao meio, s porque lhe parece desenxabidas Joseph, de bem consigo mesmo, acaba inclusive por permitir que se celebre uma festa em honra da fertilidade do local, para a qual convida o padre ngelo, que celebra missa e traz as imagens de Nossa Senhora e de Cristo para o altar improvisado Isto transtorna o seu irm o Burton, que profetiza que toda aquela idolatria e paganismo acabar o por lev los desgra a Na minha ptica, Burton tem receio Cr num Deus vingativo e col rico, pouco tolerante, e sente que o irm o est a exp los a todos a um castigo imerecidoA morte de um humano um processo longo e demorado Matamos uma vaca, e a mesma est morta assim que a carne seja comida, mas a vida de um homem morre como uma como o numa po a tranquila, em pequenas ondas, expandindo se e regressando imobilidadeA beleza da narrativa consiste nas descri es pueris da natureza, e de como a mesma ora simples, ora incompreens vel Mas reside, sobretudo, no modo como o universo significa coisas t o diferentes para cada personagem, e cada um devoto quilo que o tranquiliza, sendo que Joseph precisa da rvore para se sentir seguro, Thomas dos animais e Burton das escrituras e dos acampamentos religiosos H ainda quem precisa de se cobrir de peles de animais para ir festejar as chuvas, e se rebole na lama para o mesmo efeito E depois h quem sinta que deve sacrificar a cada p r do sol uma criatura diferente, para que na sua terra se multipliquem as sementes e a humidade a mantenha f rtil Deus algo diferente para cada um deles, e a incompreens o por parte dos outros lan a sombras sobre a exist ncia de cada um A ideia geral e que corroboro que Deus uma entidade pessoal para cada um de n s, e podemos encontr lo naquilo que nos traz conforto e paz, sem que exista uma explica o l gica Um belo tratado sobre toler ncia religiosa, numa altura em que o diferente voltou a significar amea a Se formos capazes de reconhecer a intimidade premente entre cada um e o universo, talvez o bem estar espiritual chegue a todos.Um elogio ainda ao evidente car cter intemporal do livro, escrito em 1933 e t o contempor neo, bem como feminilidade que brota desta natureza em esplendor, e ternura e entendimento entre os homens de Steinbeck e a mulher amada Mal posso esperar por voltar a ler o autor Nota pessoal Presente de S Bentes


  8. Jolene Jolene says:

    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 thenI tell you this man is not a man, unless he is all men 4.5 stars This book has so much symbolism and layers of meaning that I will probably read it again to try to absorb everything I can t believe this was one of the first books Steinbeck wrote it seems like something written at the end of a writer s career It is rich an 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 thenI tell you this man is not a man, unless he is all men 4.5 stars This book has so much symbolism and layers of meaning that I will probably read it again to try to absorb everything I can t believe this was one of the first books Steinbeck wrote it seems like something written at the end of a writer s career It is rich and poignant and contains many of the themes which would later appear in East of Eden, The Pearl, and The Grapes of Wrath


  9. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    Everything seems to work with a recurring rhythm except life There is only one birth and only one death Nothing else is like thatJohn Steinbeck, To a God Unknown An early Steinbeck filled with amazing biblical, pagan, and Greek images The novel sketches the relationship between Joseph and his efforts homesteading out West with his family It is a story of four brothers who move from the East Vermont to the West California to work the land and raise cattle Joseph Wayne isn t the oldEverything seems to work with a recurring rhythm except life There is only one birth and only one death Nothing else is like thatJohn Steinbeck, To a God Unknown An early Steinbeck filled with amazing biblical, pagan, and Greek images The novel sketches the relationship between Joseph and his efforts homesteading out West with his family It is a story of four brothers who move from the East Vermont to the West California to work the land and raise cattle Joseph Wayne isn t the oldest, but he is the leader patriarch of the brothers ever since their dying father gave him his blessing hints at Isaac s blessing on Jacob Joseph is convinced that his father s spirit abides in a large oak tree on his farm He communes, talks, seeks advice and sacrifices to the Oak He ends up a prophet without a message, a seer without the word It is only the land that matters to him To a God Unknown is my least favorite Steinbeck so far , but there were parts that were amazing and emotionally well tuned


  10. Michael Canoeist Michael Canoeist says:

    An odd, often clumsy, but also fearless book To a God Unknown is John Steinbeck s second novel, following a historical romance I would not have guessed, in reading its first half, that I would end up giving it a 4 star rating, but its insistence on its unusual pantheistic themes, coupled with Steinbeck s tremendous evocation of the interior, unsung part of the California landscape s beauties and terrors, combined for powerful effect The reader must be prepared for unrealistic dialogue Stei An odd, often clumsy, but also fearless book To a God Unknown is John Steinbeck s second novel, following a historical romance I would not have guessed, in reading its first half, that I would end up giving it a 4 star rating, but its insistence on its unusual pantheistic themes, coupled with Steinbeck s tremendous evocation of the interior, unsung part of the California landscape s beauties and terrors, combined for powerful effect The reader must be prepared for unrealistic dialogue Steinbeck may have been trying to write on a small b biblical level, reaching for a mythic tone In that way, it is a young man s book, a little braver than even he may have realized at the time and whether Steinbeck knew Melville s comment To write a great book, one must be able to write badly, as I remember it , he was practicing it A cold eye could enumerate many examples of that latter aspect, but only someone impervious to the hunger for the spiritual side of life will sustain a cold eye throughout his reading of this one I was reading it simultaneously with John O Hara s Appointment in Samarra, where sharp, accurate, revealing dialogue is one of O Hara s great strengths and it was an interesting contrast Both were written at approximately, or possibly exactly the same time, published one year apart in 1933 and 1934 While To a God Unknown never comments on the Depression, and is set a couple decades earlier, it is imbued with some kind of recognition of it Steinbeck s protagonist moves to the west, finds great opportunity in his homesteading, and the rest of his family follow him out and set up a ranch together Joseph Wayne remains their leader and patriarch, and is obsessed with fertility in all forms, but especially in the power of the land blooming with it Both his crusade for fertility, and the mystical, spiritual yearnings that drove it, have to reflect some influence from American life at the pit of the Depression Steinbeck is good with the Mexican characters that appear here, too A unique book