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To A God Unknown
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To A God Unknown (1933)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,392259,966 (3.87)52
While fulfilling his dead father's dream of creating a prosperous farm in California, Joseph Wayne comes to believe that a magnificent tree on the farm embodies his father's spirit. His brothers and their families share in Joseph's prosperity andthe farm flourishes - until one brother, scared by Joseph's pagan belief, kills the tree and brings disease and famine on the farm. Set in familiar Steinbeck country, TO A GOD UNKOWN is a mystical tale, exploring one man's attempt to control theforces of nature and to understand the ways of God.… (mer)
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Titel:To A God Unknown
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Jordisk lust av John Steinbeck (1933)

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» Se även 52 omnämnanden

engelska (21)  nederländska (1)  hebreiska (1)  italienska (1)  spanska (1)  Alla språk (25)
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Rating: how it hurts me to do this, but a squeaking-by three stars of five

Steinbeck's second novel, which he labored over for five years, was damned near never published. The title is from a Vedic hym to Prajapati, who is occasionally the Supreme God and, at other times, an avatar of "...Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Agni, Indra, Vishvakarma, Bharata, Kapila and many others." (Dalal, [Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide]). The inspiratin for the novel's ancient tree spirit, then, explains the novel's complete and utter incoherence of purpose. Are we pro-tree-worship or anti-? We're both? But surely on opposite sides the characters discussing the subject are...wait, they *aren't* different characters? But, but that's waffling! It's not? Why isn't that waffling? Pshaw, the characters aren't Jungian archetypes and larger-than-life...what? There's a thirty-seven page essay introducing the book, written by Steinbeck scholar [[Robert DeMott]] saying it isn't?

The prostitution rests.

If you need thirty-seven pages of waffle to explain why something's good enough to read, nobody wants to read it and for a reason. Steinbeck got a few hundred for the book as an advance and, as the opus sold a whopping 598 copies, it lost money. The publisher also rejected, in breaking this bad news, [Tortilla Flat]; a sad mistake on his part as that was an altogether superior book and went on to make pots of moolah. Read it instead of this one. To a God Unknown deserves its commercial and scholarly oblivion. ( )
  richardderus | Dec 6, 2020 |
Never even knew this book existed until I came across this 1955 paperback edition at a used book store, priced at $1, up just bit from its original thirty-five cent cover price. It's hawked as the progenitor of East of Eden, the story of a family and the land to which they have tied themselves, but is mostly an overwritten turd. The theatrical dialogue made me cringe from start to finish.

It did amuse me to start thinking of it as dark magical realism and even a full-on horror novel, rife with Lovecraftian dread, a haunted tree, Native American sacred ground, pagan offerings, two (!) dance orgies, and blood and human sacrifice. The WTF elements couldn't pull it out of its long, slow and inevitable crash and burn though.

My least favorite outing with one of my favorite authors. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jun 2, 2020 |
Belief in things seen and unseen is different for everyone, yet how one acts on that belief has ramifications to others and yourself. To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck follows newly arrived Joseph Wayne has he begins a family ranch believing his father’s spirit inhabits a tree that protects the land which scares religious individuals in and around the ranch.

Joseph Wayne receives the blessing of his father, John, to leave Vermont and go to California. Upon arriving and purchasing land, Joseph receives a letter from his religious brother Burton about the death of their father but after reading the letter Joseph feels his father in a huge tree next to the house he’s building. Joseph’s three brothers and their families arrive months later and start a growing cattle ranch with Joseph always interested in the fertility of the land and his cattle while giving reverence to the tree which gets noticed by Burton. The nearby town receives a new teacher which gets every single male’s attention, but Joseph somehow gets her to be his wife and the two have a “interesting” marriage that results in a son, young John, and ends with his wife’s death at a sacred rock that is on Joseph’s land. After the ranch hosts a fiesta in which Joseph’s behavior towards the tree alarms the local priest and Burton. Burton decides to leave for a safely Christian town but removes a ring of bark around the tree leading to its death. Almost immediately the weather turns and over the next year drought devastates the ranch leading to Joseph’s brother leading what cattle he can to greener pastures while Joseph’s stays with the land. Then as he watches the last water dry up from around the sacred rock. Joseph cuts himself and sees his blood moisten the ground then thunder in the distance. He then sacrifices himself for the land and feels the rain in his dying moments.

Belief and how it affects people is the central theme of the novel, though the connection between farmer/rancher and the land goes hand in hand with it. There are also clashes of belief, from Joseph’s paganism to the Christianity of Burton and the local priest who is also in conflict with local Indian beliefs. This theme is the essential to the entire book as every character has their beliefs which make them unique and how they relate to everyone else. But while Steinbeck goes into character beliefs, it doesn’t mean they’re all well rounded characters especially the women though Joseph’s sister-in-law Rama comes close.

To a God Unknown is the last of Steinbeck’s early works before his commercial and critical success but gives a glimpse of his later more well-known works. As my first non-school related (The Pearl) Steinbeck work, I found this thought-provoking and intriguing but still a tad “rough” in style. However, if you’re interested in getting to Steinbeck try this book and see if like myself, you’re figuring out which other Steinbeck books you’ll want to read. ( )
  mattries37315 | Nov 11, 2019 |
Ancient pagan beliefs, the great Greek epics, and the Bible all inform this extraordinary novel by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, which occupied him for more than five difficult years. While fulfilling his dead father’s dream of creating a prosperous farm in California, Joseph Wayne comes to believe that a magnificent tree on the farm embodies his father’s spirit. His brothers and their families share in Joseph’s prosperity, and the farm flourishes—until one brother, frightened by Joseph’s pagan belief, kills the tree, allowing disease and famine to descend on the farm.
  Gmomaj | Nov 3, 2019 |
Ostensibly a book about the overlap of the Christian settlers in the West and the more antediluvian paganism – really more like pantheism – that was already awaiting them in the land, John Steinbeck's early To a God Unknown works better as a sensory experience. A mix of brutal and pastoral, as a reader you feel the arid heat when the droughts come and the moist soil when it rains. The prose is clean and loamy, and whilst it is not 'mystical' (Steinbeck apparently disliked it being described as that), it is a very earthy book.

However, in its literary aims it is rather laboured. The book took longer to write than any of his other novels, including his dense masterpieces The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, and this difficult birth is very much evident as you read it. The Christian/pagan-pantheist duality never really breathes or provides direction for the reader, and Steinbeck's later powers of observation are still developing. The characters are rather stunted and they talk like parables (when the protagonist's wife tells him she is pregnant, his reply is "the child is precious, but not so precious as the bearing of it… That is a tie to the earth" (pg. 95)). The problem is that it is a parable without a clear message. That said, I liked the ending and the prose is not as dull as it first appears. I don't think Steinbeck got closer to the unknown God in this book, but I did get a sense of his atavistic joys. I can smell the soil and the liberating rain. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jul 25, 2019 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (14 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
DeMott, RobertInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Montale, EugenioÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Veltman-Boissevain, E.D.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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TO A GOD UNKNOWN
He is the giver of breath, and strength is his gift.
The high Gods revere his commandments.
His shadow is life, his shadow is death;
Who is He to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

Through His might He became lord of the living and glittering world
And he rules th world and the men and the beasts
Who is He to whome we shall offer our sacrifice?

From His strength the mountains take being, and the sea, and they say,
And the distant river;
And these are his body and his two arms.
Who is He to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

He made the sky and the earth, and His will fixed their places,
Yet they look to Him and tremble.
The risen sun shines forth over Him.
Who is He to whom we shall offer our sacrifices?

He looked over the waters which stored His power and gendered the sacrifice.
He is God over Gods.
Who is He to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

May He not hurt us, He who made the earth,
Who made the sky and the shining sea?
Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?
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When the crops were under cover on the Wayne farm near Pittsford in Vermont, when the winter wood was cut and the first light snow lay on the ground, Joseph Wayne went to the wing-back chair by the fireplace late one afternoon and stood before his father.
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While fulfilling his dead father's dream of creating a prosperous farm in California, Joseph Wayne comes to believe that a magnificent tree on the farm embodies his father's spirit. His brothers and their families share in Joseph's prosperity andthe farm flourishes - until one brother, scared by Joseph's pagan belief, kills the tree and brings disease and famine on the farm. Set in familiar Steinbeck country, TO A GOD UNKOWN is a mystical tale, exploring one man's attempt to control theforces of nature and to understand the ways of God.

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