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The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Pearl (original 1947; edition 2000)

by John Steinbeck

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8,558140358 (3.48)1 / 322
Title:The Pearl
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2000), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 96 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Mexican folktale, novel, YA

Work details

The Pearl by John Steinbeck (1947)

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English (124)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (139)
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I think this is highly underrated. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
During 1940 Steinbeck, along with his friend Ed Ricketts, set sail for six weeks. The two traveled from "Monterey up the west shore of the Gulf of California to Angeles Bay and then across to Puerto San Carlos east and south to Agiabampo Estuary." The result of their travels being Steinbeck's and Ricketts' Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research.

After a night of beers with natives of La Paz on the Isla Espiritu Santo, Steinbeck and Ricketts' were invited to check out the town of La Paz. It is amidst Steinbeck's account of the three days spent in La Paz that he mentions the story that he would eventually rewrite as The Pearl.

Initially a tale of a boy and his pearl seeking his divine three (clothes, booze, and sex), Steinbeck rewrote his Pearl into parablesque form. Playing on the biblical parable of The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46 NKJV) he layers this short but significant read with the voices, songs, and characters of Kino, Juana, and Coyotito.

In Kino we have a father that carries the weight of the wealth and health of his small family and the village, both neighbors and extended family, they live in. His character is complemented by Juana with whom Steinbeck exhibits the wisdom of the mother and the pragmatist, the active nurturer of both husband and son. Both parents have strength and intensely delineated merit in their presumed roles in both village and home but Steinbeck does a very good job of furthering this and letting it flower into the reality of a relationship. Even as it becomes a relationship strained.

The reader is quickly dosed with the vulnerability of Coyotito and, in turn, his parents and the balance of their life, the "Song of the Family," by a scorpion sting. But it wouldn't be Steinbeck if it didn't have layers! Coyotito is also an embodiment of joy, hope, and then grief. The child coming in and out of focus as we travel along with Kino on his trek through psychological development. The weight and shadow of Kino and Juana's return to their village and the pearl's return to the ocean.

I think Steinbeck's parable of the fallacies of a materialistic culture is important and well written. It's very much the tossed pebble rippling of the pond; his layering of characters, situation, action is awesome. I was surprised at how much depth his use of melody added to my connection with the story. It added a primal feel; a glow of the often told legend as it sparks from lips around a fire and resonates.

I think The Pearl is a new favorite. Which is something I seem to say after every Steinbeck I read. I can't help it; Steinbeck does rawness, hope, grief, strength, futility, 'regular' folk, and the importance of the shining humane act so well. His writing makes me want to reach out into the world and change something, change myself.
( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
Otra magnífica obra de Steinbeck que a mí tampoco me parece tan maravillosa. Me deprime demasiado saber desde el principio que todo acabará inevitablemente mal y de manera terriblemente injusta. ( )
  naturaworld | Aug 12, 2016 |
This short novel is another sad one from Steinbeck. We get a fable here, set on the Baja California coast where a poor Indian man and his young family live a hardscrabble existence. I've read this one before, though not recently, and it is a story not easy to forget. The descriptions the author gives us of the land and the peoples are the best part of the story for me. The story itself is so bleak, with what seems the entire world of the young man allied against him and his family, when he finds a great pearl, "The Pearl of the World," that is his one chance to break away from his desperately poor existence is crushed. That's my problem with this book - a very well written story, but is the message really as bleak as it seems, that one has no hope, no chance for a better lot in life? One should not dream for a better life for one's child for to merely think some things about the future is a siren call to evil to come for you and what you hold dear.

Sometimes Steinbeck gives Thomas Hardy a real run for his money. Kino, Juana and the young baby never had a chance. ( )
  RBeffa | Jul 24, 2016 |

Read it and philosophize while you read it and weep.

Sometimes I have to wonder what the people who write the back blurbs of these books are thinking (or smoking). The back says "THE PEARL is a book to be read many times and cherished forever." What they're talking about, I can't imagine. If you choose to get pissed over and over again, then by all means keep reading this tragic story.

I get what Steinbeck is saying in his beautiful writing voice - to be content with what is had and to not let the lure of greed drift you too far out, lest you lose everything. It's kind of like the principle of this ridiculous short story we had to read in elementary school - I can't remember it's name, but the point of the story that the teacher and book taught irritated me then too. I get what he's saying, I just don't agree with his perspective.

What I take from this fable is that a man gets a break in luck in fortune, something he hopes for in order to save his child's life and better the life of him and his wife. People try to steal and rip from him his fortune with THEIR greed, and he stands strong and tries to fight back, refusing to bow to the injustice of thievery, deceit, and people trying to suck out the joy in others lives. It's a matter of principle to try and protect fortune that comes your way, whether through blessing or hard work or that rare stroke of genius. There is no shame in fighting back against the tides of unfairness to protect what is yours and to work toward something better.

I can't bring myself to rate something higher than 3 stars if it pissed me off with its ending, but I can respect this book because it's John freaking Steinbeck, it's a fable that's so well done it may as well define the word 'fable' in the dictionary, and because it wasn't only the alluring pull of the pearl that kept drawing me further in.

( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (114 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baldiz, FranciscoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elizondo, HectorNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goedegebuure, JaapIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orozco, Jose ClementeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veltman-Boissevain, E.D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagner-Martin, LindaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Kino woke up early in the morning.
It is said that human beings are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142000698, Paperback)

Make this your next book club selection and everyone saves.
Get 15% off when you order 5 or more of this title for your book club.
Simply enter the coupon code STEINBECKPEARL at checkout.
This offer does not apply to eBook purchases. This offer applies to only one downloadable audio per purchase.

In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy.

For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems. Originally published in 1947, The Pearl shows why Steinbeck’s style has made him one of the most beloved American writers: it is a simple story of simple people, recounted with the warmth and sincerity and unrivaled craftsmanship Steinbeck brings to his writing. It is tragedy in the great tradition, beautifully conveying not despair but hope for mankind.

The Great Books Foundation Discussion Guide for The Pearl is available at www.greatbooks.org.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:46 -0400)

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For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to tragedy. Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems.… (more)

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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185120, 0141332913, 0143566415, 0241952468


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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