Of Mice and Men

After finding out that despite being dead for nearly 50 years that this author’s books are still in copyright (something I talk about on my latest podcast episode), I had decided not to buy any of his books for my five weeks of American literature. However, while visiting friends in California, they actually had a copy of this book on their shelf. When I saw how short it was, I thought I’d better give this classic a go and I managed to read it in an afternoon.

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“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is a novella set in California during the Great Depression in the mid-1930s. The story follows two men, George and Lennie, who are travelling workers trying to save money to buy their own piece of land one day. Lennie is incredibly big and strong, however has an intellectual disability that means he struggles considerably. George serves as his somewhat reluctant guardian who has managed to line up a new job for them both after things went badly at the last one. To keep Lennie focused, George tells and retells him about the house they will own together one day and the animals they will keep. However, when they arrive at the new farm they are faced with lots of new men and the Boss’ aggressive son Curly. With all the new distractions, George struggles to keep Lennie in check.

This isn’t going to be a long review because while this wasn’t a long book, it was an excellent book. Steinbeck has crafted the perfect novella. He lays the foundation to create a story at once unforeseeable and inevitable. He touches on lots of themes in a very short time including friendship, disability and poverty. Even though we are only with the characters for a very short time, I was left with a real sense of wanting to know much more about them.

A real highlight during my five weeks of American literature and a book I’m extremely glad I got the opportunity to read this classic.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Classics, General Fiction

6 responses to “Of Mice and Men

  1. Steinbeck is great. I read this when I son did it at school – in Year 11 at Narrabundah College (I’m pretty sure it was there not high school) and liked it a lot too. I’ve read a few Steinbecks, and would happily read more.

    I’m sorry, I haven’t had time to listen to your podcast, but am wondering what you said about copyright. I’m sure you’ve discovered that it’s way more than 50 years now! There and here. As I recollect ours was extended, partly because of the Free Trade Agreement, though I may be making that up!!

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    • “my son” not “I son” of course!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is way more! Depending on when the book was published it can be as much as 95 years after publication or 70 years after the author’s death. Similar in Australia, though there have been some (so far unsuccessful) moves towards making it 20 years after publication. Lots of controversy!

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      • Yes, 70 was what I believed it was, and then Australia increased its from 50 to equal the USA’s. We also applied it to photographs which used to be 50 years after publication but is now tied to the the photographer’s death. Controversial and complicated!

        I had heard of moves to reduce it to something that enables authors to leave money (via royalties etc) to the next generation, so 20 years or so, not 70!!

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      • Yes, my understanding though were that the proposals were to a timeframe that could even be over before the author’s own life! 70 years after death is too long, but 20 years after publication seems way too short. A bit of balance, I think!

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      • Agree. 20-25 years after death would be reasonable. A lot of authors don’t make much so to let them leave a little to their estates would be fair enough, says she from the top of her head!

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