John Steinbeck on Americanism

Nobel prize winning writer John Steinbeck, in his novel East of Eden, on Americanism:

"We’re a violent people, Cal. Does it seem strange to you that I include myself? Maybe it’s true that we are all descended from the restless, the nervous, the criminals, the arguers and brawlers, but also the brave and independent and generous. If our ancestors had not been that, they would have stayed in their home plots in the other world and starved over the squeezed-out soil.

That’s why I include myself. We all have that heritage, no matter what old land our fathers left. All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It’s a breed — selected out by accident. And so we’re overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We’re oversentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic — and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? We eat too much. We have no taste, no sense of proportion. We throw our energy about like waste. In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without an intervening culture. Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture? That’s what we are, Cal — all of us. You aren’t very different." – Lee

(Hat tip to my Mom for seeing this passage)

3 comments on “John Steinbeck on Americanism
  • now and then i visit your blog and the lack of technical content always disappoints me.

    you should read Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. it will blow your mind.

  • Timshol Ben.

    EOE is my favorite Steinbeck novel, and in my top 10 – That is because of the time in my life I read it, not the book itself – but still an awesome book with great writing.

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