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Facts About Fiction
Fri September 6, 2013
Where the Grapes of Wrath Are Stored
For the UALR English Department, this is J. Bradley Minnick with Facts About Fiction.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored . . .”
After struggling for about four months on a proper title for a story about Okees who go to California in search of the American dream, Steinbeck purportedly insisted that Julia Ward Howe’s The Battle Hymn of The Republic be printed in its entirety, prefacing 1940 Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Grapes of Wrath.
Here Are The Facts: In a letter dated January 1, 1939, Steinbeck wrote, “The fascist crowd will… try to give it the communist angle. However, the Battle Hymn is American and intensely so.” Steinbeck objected to an early copy of the book that contained only the first verse as a prologue; the final copy published the sheet music diagonally on the end pages at the front and back, a layout he found “swell.” Nonetheless, in 1943, the FBI launched a full investigation of the author “to determine his suitability to hold a commission in the US Army, a commission denied because of suspected communist sympathies.”
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