John Steinbeck author of “Travels With Charley” born February 27th 1902.

JOHN STEINBECK, Nobel Prize winning novelist, was born February 27, 1902 and wrote “Travels With Charley” about his drive across America accompanied by his poodle, Charley. Steinbeck’s travelogue motivates John to a musical “road trip” on Crosscurrents, Monday, Feb. 27 at 8:00 AM. Listen live at, 102.7fm, or 103.1fm.

John Steinbeck was born in the farming town of Salinas, California on 27 February 1902. As a child growing up in the fertile Salinas Valley —called the “Salad Bowl of the Nation” — Steinbeck formed a deep appreciation of his environment, not only the rich fields and hills surrounding Salinas, but also the nearby Pacific coast where his family spent summer weekends. “I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers,” he wrote in the opening chapter of East of Eden. “I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer-and what trees and seasons smelled like.”

Wyatt and Jonah ready to travel …and yes they read that Steinbeck used literary license in Travels With Charley.

As a teenager, he spent his summers working as a hired hand on neighboring ranches, where his experiences of rural California and its people impressed him deeply. In 1919, he enrolled at Stanford University, where he studied intermittently for the next six years before finally leaving without having earned a degree. For the next five years, he worked as a reporter and then as caretaker for a Lake Tahoe estate while he completed his first novel, an adventure story called Cup of Gold, which was published in 1929. Critical and commercial success did not come for another six years, when Tortilla Flat was published in 1935, at which point Steinbeck was finally able to support himself entirely with his writing.

Charley is nowhere to be found here. The journey was real though the dialog may have been served Steinbeck’s purpose.

Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a novelistic travelogue written by American writer John Steinbeck, published in 1962. Charley, a standard poodle, was Steinbeck’s companion as they travelled around America by road in a camper named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse. The main reason behind the journey was to find answers to the questions Steinbeck had about his country, such as what Americans of his day were like. The journey began in Long Island, New York, passed through California, and looped back to New York, covering nearly ten thousand miles. The book is divided into four parts, all of which explore in-depth the areas Steinbeck and Charley passed through, providing an account of the sights, the locals and the socio-economic situation encountered at each stop.

Jonah drives as Wyatt navigates as they search for Steinbecks America road trip.

The book was a New York Times bestseller and despite claims of inaccuracy and invention, became a classic of the travelogue genre. Neither, during his life nor after has the paradoxical Steinbeck been an easy author to pigeonhole personally, politically, or artistically. As a man, he was an introvert and at the same time had a romantic streak, was impulsive, garrulous, a lover of jests and word play and practical jokes. As an artist, he was a ceaseless experimenter with words and form, and often critics did not “see” quite what he was up to. He claimed his books had “layers,” yet many claimed his symbolic touch was cumbersome. He loved humor and warmth, but some said he slopped over into sentimentalism. He was, and is now recognized as, an environmental writer. He was an intellectual, passionately interested in his odd little inventions, in jazz, in politics, in philosophy, history, and myth – this range from an author sometimes labeled simplistic by academe. All said, Steinbeck remains one of America’s most significant twentieth-century writers, whose popularity spans the world, whose range is impressive, whose output was prodigious: 16 novels, a collection of short stories, four screenplays. Whatever his “experiment” in fiction or journalistic prose, he wrote with empathy, clarity, perspicuity: “In every bit of honest writing in the world,” he noted in a 1938 journal entry, “…there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.

SOURCE: Sparks Notes, Stanford university

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