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.
While writing his greatest novel in 1938, Steinbeck kept a journal that chronicled his torments, self-doubts, late and false starts, reversals and other struggles to achieve his goal. There are references to his typist-wife Carol Henning, his agent Elizabeth Otis, his publisher Pascal Covici and to the documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz, whose style strongly influenced the structure of Steinbeck's novel. Entry #100, 26 October 1938, ends, ``Finished this dayand I hope to God it's good.'' Another 21 entries deal with the aftermath, to January 1941. The repetitiveness and at times boring nature of the journal may deter general readers, who will, however, appreciate the extensive introduction, comments, notes and annotations of DeMott, professor of English at Ohio University.