Monday, February 06, 2012

First Impressions of To a God Unknown


I don't know why this has just struck me because I have read Steinbeck before and particularly East of Eden when family is the main theme. But starting out on To a God Unknown my first thoughts were about Tolstoy and Tolkien.

The reason is that that sense of setting a family in historical context has a 19th century feel to it, something Tolstoy also does well, and the decision to put an emphasis on that combination of family, heritage and geographical location is the signature style of how Tolkien starts his stories.

That is where the comparisons end though because having established that Joseph Wayne is heading away from the family farm to stake his own land in California the story quickly becomes about his adventure.

He picks his land, becomes spiritually attached and following his father's death calls out the rest of his brothers to join him.

Fore Joseph the great oak tree that branches out above his newly built home is his father. The spirit of his deceased parent is something he associates with the tree and as a result you already feel the tension over the future.

More to come as I get into it but wanted to share some first impressions.

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