Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” Revisited

January 6, 2011

A while ago I had recommended Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, his last book, which was written in 1962. (He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature that year and died in 1968.) Now the claim is being made that, whether it is a favorite of generations or not, much of the book was not actually true:

1)  he didn’t rough it that much

2) his wife did accompany him quite a bit

3) he invented several interesting individuals who were ready to converse  about the American condition

Clearly the researcher spent much time and energy to verify all this, but it is a little disheartening. On the other hand, does it totally detract from the value of the work? NPR featured a discussion with Bill Steigerwald who weighs in on the nature of “fictionalized” nonfiction.

Shira S.

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