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John Steinbeck And Censorship

John Steinbeck is among one of the famous authors of American literature. Steinbeck majored in the writing of novels, however he also wrote several non-fiction books as well as collections of short stories. Steinbeck was born in the early 1900’s and continued to write from his early twenties into his later years before passing away in 1968. Steinbeck, at the time, wrote books which were often considered to be challenging to the modern public. For many of his works, Steinbeck often had to fight tooth and nail against censorship, most predominantly for his infamous book ‘Of Mice and Men’ and also ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.

Both of Steinbeck’s aforementioned works were considered to be main targets for censorship at the time, considering the plot of the novels as well as what happens. Much like Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, these novels were considered highly inappropriate and racy for the public. All three of these books, were in fact, banned and challenged in their times. Steinbeck had to constantly challenge the criticism of his novels simply for them to be legal to read. The question is, why exactly were these books banned and censored?

Simply put: many people did not like the social and political statements of these books. While countless people awarded Steinbeck and his works critical acclaim, awards and high demand, and in fact winning a Pulitzer prize, there was still a very heavy burden from others to stampede on his work. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ was focused during the Great Depression in America and located in an area highly effected by the infamous Dust Bowl. Those who took the novel as hitting close to home were large fans of the truth in which was portrayed in the novel, however countless others pinned Steinbeck to be spreading propaganda and socialism to his audience.

The same can be said for ‘Of Mice and Men’, which too, was set during the depression area of the United States. To This day, in fact, this novel is still being challenged by many people to be banned from school reading lists, spite it being considered an all-time classic. The primary reason for this is due to the obscenities often used throughout the book, spanning from derogatory names for men or expressions of anger. Many people were offended by not just the setting, but the language which was used in ‘Of Mice and Men’, and on countless occasions were these books not only banned but also burned in the infamous book burning acts. Regardless of the distaste, it can be said that work is not successful or of true merit without providing an opinion which is not necessarily popular with many. Steinbeck did just that in his writing, making him one of the paramount authors of the United States.