“THE FOUNDATION FOR LATER ARTISTIC GREATNESS”: STEINBECK’S TO A GOD UNKNOWN
STEINBECK, John. To a God Unknown. New York: Covici-Friede, . Octavo, original brown cloth, original dust jacket, uncut and partially unopened. $1600.
First edition, second issue of Steinbeck’s richly symbolic, third published novel.
Webster "Toby" Street, one of Steinbeck's closest friends, abandoned his play The Green Lady and gave the manuscript draft to Steinbeck to do with as he wished. "Street's play apparently held a great fascination for him… [It] appealed to his impulses toward the mysticism of nature and toward the grotesque… The importance of this material with respect to Steinbeck's career is not just that it provided the basis for [To a God Unknown], but that it brought him for the first time to his primary subject: the interaction between members of a farm family in a rural California setting" (Benson, 110). Steinbeck wrote and rewrote this novel over a period of five years—longer than he worked on any other of his books, except his posthumously published Arthurian novel. "Because John Steinbeck may have learned more about crafting long fiction from it than from anything else he worked on during that period, this book laid the foundation for later artistic greatness" (DeMott, xxxvii). First edition, second issue, with Covici-Friede imprint; preceded by the extremely scarce, 598-copy first issue of 1933. The second issue was made up of the first issue sheets, and is identical to it save for the title page. Goldstone & Payne A3b. Salinas Public Library Collection, 20.
A near-fine copy in dust jacket.