Read All About John Steinbeck's Literary Fraud in New E-Book, NY Post Col

Reason contributor Bill Steigerwald has published a couple of ground-breaking exposes with Reason about John Steinbeck's literary fakery in the "non-fiction" classic Travels with Charley in Search of America (read the Reason pieces here and here). The 1962 best-seller by Nobel laureate Steinbeck purported to be a true-life odyssey around the country in which the aging writer took the pulse of the nation. As Steigerwald has definitively showed, the book, whose claim to truth is essential to its narrative and lasting cultural power, was largely fabricated to accord with Steinbeck's left-liberal point of view.

While Steinbeck scholars sniff that all non-fiction writers are obviously liars (one of them even said the fabulism deepened his "faith" in the book), The New York Times editorialized that such attitudes are intellectually corrosive.

Now Steigerwald has got an e-book on the matter, Dogging Charley, that you can buy on Amazon and read more about at this site.

And for a taste of what's in store, check out this New York Post piece by Steigerwald. A snippet:

Academics soft pedal Steinbeck’s fictionalizing — i.e., fibbing — saying it doesn’t matter because he was telling greater truths. Of course, that “truth-telling” begs some questions. At what point do all the fictions in “Charley” — or memoirs like “A Million Little Pieces” or Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” — discredit the book’s value as an accurate and honest account of reality? And at what point do all those phony quotes from dozens of Steinbeck’s made-up characters in a nonfiction book add up to literary fraud?...

2 1/2 generations of trusting readers of all ages were duped by Steinbeck. No writer could get away with it today — and no one in the past, no matter how talented, should, either.

More here.

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  • Almanian.||

    You know, Steinbeck's lies were a lot more palatable when Lucy Steigerwald was around....

  • sarcasmic||

    It's OK to lie if your politics are correct.

  • BelowTheRim||

    I had to read Grapes of Wrath and In Dubious Battle in the same school year, I think it was when I was a Junior, in english class.

    Each were about, albeit with different characters and plot lines, scabs and labor disputes.

    Guy was such a communist, at least my public school didn't push students to think with the author...

  • Tim||

    Never read it. I had to read "the pearl" where the little baby gets his head blown off by some capitalist asshole.

  • Ice Nine||

    You just couldn't have given a little spoiler alert for all of us who were going to read that this week, could ya?!

  • sarcasmic||

    That comment makes you look fat.

  • Ice Nine||

    You would think someone with your handle would have...never mind.

  • Almanian.||

    I was going to note this as well - I actually kind of enjoyed that story.

    +1 to TIMMEH for ruining the ending for Ice Nine.



  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Academics soft pedal Steinbeck’s fictionalizing — i.e., fibbing — saying it doesn’t matter because he was telling greater truths.

    I'm getting sick of these apologias from dipshit academics whenever one of their hobbyhorses is revealed to be a fraud. Whether it's Michael Bellesiles, Rigoberta Menchu, or Steinbeck, it's always the same argument--before they're caught, it's "A DEVASTATING CRITQUE OF THE CAPITALIST-IMPERIALIST WRECKER NARRATIVE!! and afterwards it's "IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE THEY'RE REVEALING GREAT, HOLY TRUTHS, BIGOT!!"

  • Rick Santorum||

    First of all, Steinbeck's work is obviously fake. Anyone with an inkling of skepticism and common sense--which doesn't apply to leftists--could tell that the accounts were heavily embellished (or created wholecloth). Second of all, I'm getting really sick of the liberal justification of lying liars who lie because they're "pointing to a greater truth."

    Obama spins horror stories about health insurance companies? Well, it doesn't matter because, like, health insurance companies are evil and it's raising our consciousness about how we need reform. Lesbian fakes a hate crime? She's making us aware of the systemic oppression that LGBTs face.

    Nuke this society.


    I define a living wage as making enough money to afford basic necessities while having enough money left over to put in savings.

  • R C Dean||

    I define a living wage as making enough money to afford basic necessities while having enough money left over to put in savings.

    Making money working how many hours per week?

    What counts as basic necessities?

    How much in savings?

    Your definition is so content free that I could argue that $50/hour isn't a living wage. Try moar harder.

  • iggy||

    He's also posting that on every one of his posts now. He apparently thinks it's some big take down of our criticisms about his union apologia, but actually it's a content free, buzzword-heavy load of crap.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Sure is mad in here.

    I define a living wage as making enough money to afford basic necessities with enough left over to put in savings.

  • ant1sthenes||

    1) What do you consider basic necessities?
    2) How much should be leftover to put into savings?
    3) Why do you support the neofeudalist social model that likens the state to the king, the corporate employer to the landlord, and the employee to the serf? Shouldn't society be looking forward, not backward?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    When fiction writers suddenly break out a non-fiction book, I assume that they are, at the least, highly embellished. Most just can't help themselves.

    Anyway, Steinbeck's greatest accomplishment was inspiring this.


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