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Of Mice and Men
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men remains one of America's most widely read and beloved novels. Here is Steinbeck’s dramatic adaptation of his novel-as-play, which received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play in 1937-1938 and has featured a number of actors who have played the iconic roles of George and Lennie on stage and film, including James Earl Jones, John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.From the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, this classic story of an unlikely pair, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression who grasp for their American Dream, profoundly touches readers and audiences alike. George and his simple-minded friend Lenny dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own—a couple of acres and a few pigs, chickens, and rabbits back in Hill Country where land is cheap. But after they come to work on a ranch in the fertile Salinas Valley of California, their hopes, like “the best laid schemes o’mice an’ men,” begin to go awry.
Of Mice and Men also represents an experiment in form, as Steinbeck described his work, “a kind of playable novel, written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands.” A rarity in American letters, it achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films.
John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about 25 miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than 30 years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
Gary Sinise is an award-winning actor who is best known for his role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. He also won acclaim for his work in Of Mice and Men, Apollo 13, Truman (Golden Globe Award), and George Wallace (Emmy Award). He has narrated several books by John Steinbeck, including Of Mice and Men and Travels with Charley in Search of America.