Speech Accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature

John STEINBECK

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“THE ANCIENT COMMISSION OF THE WRITER HAS NOT CHANGED”: LIMITED FIRST EDITION OF STEINBECK’S NOBEL PRIZE SPEECH, ONE OF 3200 COPIES PRINTED FOR FRIENDS OF THE AUTHOR AND THE PUBLISHER, SIGNED BY STEINBECK

STEINBECK, John. Speech Accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature. Stockholm, December 10, 1962. New York: The Viking Press, [1962]. Octavo, staple-bound as issued, original tan printed tan paper wrappers; pp. 10. Housed in custom clamshell box.

Limited first edition, one of 3200 copies printed for friends of the author and the publisher of Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize speech, with striking photographic frontispiece portrait by Paul Farber. A fine copy, signed by Steinbeck on the title page.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962 was awarded to Steinbeck “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception.” “On the morning of October 25, 1962, Elaine was cooking breakfast in the house at Sag Harbor when John, dressed in pajamas and robe, padded over to the television set in the adjoining sitting room to turn on the news. It was the period of the Cuban missile crisis and John wanted to see, as he muttered to Elaine, ‘if the world was still turning.’ The first words that came from the set were, ‘John Steinbeck has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.’ John was thunderstruck—he had absolutely no idea that he had even been under consideration that year… As his reputation with the literary establishment [had] faded [since his first nomination in 1945]… the idea that he might get the prize had long ago left his mind.” Indeed, the press largely responded with faint and tepid praise, questioning the Nobel committee’s judgment. “Because of the opposition, [Steinbeck] felt he was under particular pressure to come up with the best possible speech… He worried and fretted and stormed about the house, trying draft after draft… ‘I don’t know whether or not it’s good but at least it’s me… Now they can take it or leave it. Only I hope I get the money first” (Benson, 914-18). Goldstone & Payne A40a. Salinas, 50. Valentine 269. Morroco-gilt bookplate inside clamshell.

A fine copy of a speech seldom found signed.

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