John Steinbeck Replies

[New York: L.M. Birkhead, Friends of Democracy, 1940]. First Edition. Small leaflet reproducing the correspondence between Birkhead, Director of the Friends of Democracy, and John Steinbeck in regards to the latter's 1939 novel "The Grapes of Wrath." The first letter, from Birkhead, is originally dated May 2, 1940, and opens "I hope that you will not think I am impertinent, but our organization has had put up to it the problem of your nationality. You may consider that it is none of our business, nor the business of anyone else in the country. However, there is a very widespread propaganda, particularly among the extreme reactionary religionists of the country, that you are Jewish and that 'Grapes of Wrath', is Jewish propaganda." Steinbeck's response is dated Los Gatos, California, May 7, 1940, and begins "I am answering your letter with a good deal of sadness." Steinbeck goes on to describe in detail his heritage, noting that his paternal grandfather was a German farmer, many of whose relations still reside "on a fairly large farm near Dusseldorf." On his mother's side "my blood is all north Irish, my grandfather whose name was Hamilton having come from Mulkeraugh near Londonderry." Steinbeck concludes "I can prove these things of course--but when I shall have to--the American democracy will have disappeared." In a postscript Steinbeck remarks "On both sides and for many generations we are blond and blue eyed to a degree to arouse the admiration and perhaps envy of the dark complexioned Hitler." The correspondence was reprinted later that year under the title "A Letter in Reply to a Request for a Statement" in a limited edition of 350 copies by the Overbrook Press in Stamford, Connecticut. GOLDSTONE & PAYNE A13a. 12mo bifolium (19.5cm.); faint uneven toning to upper panel, else Near Fine.

Price: $950.00

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