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The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Pearl (original 1947; edition 2000)

by John Steinbeck

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8,647142351 (3.48)1 / 328
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)

Recently added bykemilyh1988, Connie-D, noninfle, private library, WormholeBookstore, KimMarieSpacy
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English (127)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  All (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  All (142)
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This is a beautifully written but rather horrible tale, which starts with a man content with his family life in a brush hut by the sea. When his child is stung by scorpion, Kino's life begins spiralling out of control.

I would like to hear the original Mexican folktale to know what Steinbeck added. One thing I'm sure he added was sound: of nature, of his wife, of the Song of the Family, of the pearl's song...Steinbeck obviously has a keen ear. He also has a deceptively slow, quiet manner of telling a story. There are moments of seeming stillness followed by disturbing action. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 14, 2017 |
2.5 stars ( )
  KendraJ. | Dec 29, 2016 |
I can't believed he died that was a really dumb story, I wish they kept going to the city and defied the pearl sellers. ( )
  Brinlie.Jill.Searle | Nov 22, 2016 |
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 |
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» Add other authors (114 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionscalculated
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)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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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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