Travels with Charley in Search of America (Paperback)
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An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers
In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley; and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.
His course took him through almost forty states: northward from Long Island to Maine; through the Midwest to Chicago; onward by way of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana (with which he fell in love), and Idaho to Seattle, south to San Francisco and his birthplace, Salinas; eastward through the Mojave, New Mexico, Arizona, to the vast hospitality of Texas, to New Orleans and a shocking drama of desegregation; finally, on the last leg, through Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to New York.
"Travels with Charley in Search of America" is an intimate look at one of America's most beloved writers in the later years of his life--a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. Written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South--which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand--"Travels with Charley" is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade. This Penguin Classics edition includes an introduction by Jay Parini.
About the Author
No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and the plight of the common man, penning some of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century and winning such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He received the Nobel Prize in 1962, "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
Jay Parini is a poet, novelist, and biographer, author of The Last Station, which was made into an Academy Award-nominated film in 2009. His novels and biographies (Steinbeck, Frost, Faulkner) have been translated into over thirty languages. He is Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College. He has edited many books, including the Norton Anthology of American Autobiography, The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. He is a regular contributor to "The Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, The New York Times", and "The Guardian". He has also written for GQ, "The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post", and "Salon.com".