Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, 1938-1941

Front Cover
Penguin, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 180 pages
John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath during an astonishing burst of activity between June and October of 1938. Throughout the time he was creating his greatest work, Steinbeck faithfully kept a journal revealing his arduous journey toward its completion.

The journal, like the novel it chronicles, tells a tale of dramatic proportions—of dogged determination and inspiration, yet also of paranoia, self-doubt, and obstacles. It records in intimate detail the conception and genesis of The Grapes of Wrath and its huge though controversial success. It is a unique and penetrating portrait of an emblematic American writer creating an essential American masterpiece.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - figre - LibraryThing

What is it a person expects when they read the diaries of a famous person? Is it trying to derive insight into the creative process? Is it an attempt to delve into the mind of a human being? Is it a ... Read full review

WORKING DAYS: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath

User Review  - Kirkus

A pleasant trove of work notes released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath. Editor DeMott (English/Ohio Univ.) accidentally dug up this brief manuscript material while ... Read full review


Prelude February 1938 with Commentary
The Diary of a Book MayOctober 1938 with Commentary
Aftermath 19391941 with Commentary
Notes and Annotations

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1990)

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.

Bibliographic information