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Steinbeck’s Typewriter: Essays on His Art. : Whitston, 1996. A good collection of criticism of Steinbeck. Includes bibliographical references and an index. Fontenrose, Joseph. John Steinbeck: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963. A good introduction, this book dis12 Critical Insights cusses some of the symbolism inherent in much of Steinbeck’s fiction and contains some insightful observations on Steinbeck’s concept of the “group-man”— that is, the individual as a unit in the larger sociobiological organism.

Now, after writing a novel that had become an instant classic, Steinbeck abandoned fiction altogether. He set out on a voyage down the coast of California and Mexico with his wife and his friend Ed Ricketts, a marine bioloCritical Reception 29 gist. The book that documented this journey was Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research. As Steinbeck’s subtitle implies, this was an uneasy admixture of travel narrative and amateur marine biology. The book was printed in a very limited run of seventy-five hundred copies and was generally reviewed with a sort of indulgent bemusement.

Its author: Sinclair Beckstein, an amalgamation of virtue-driven, activist-minded authors Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, and John Steinbeck. That Steinbeck was worthy of lampooning would not have seemed likely just a few years earlier. Whereas Sinclair and Lewis had established their credentials as muckraking authors decades prior, he was a newcomer to the world of literary celebrity. Throughout the 1930s, Steinbeck had published ten books of varying quality, most of them soulful sketches of life in California’s quiet, fertile valleys and remote, seaside communities.

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