BY BELISARIO RIGHI
Portrait of John Steinbeck
About twenty years ago, when I read John Steinbeck's first novel, The Red Saint, I immediately understood that I was in front of a great writer. The first hundred pages of the book are of unparalleled beauty for narrative strength and involvement in reading. I was never interested in picaresque storylines and foolishly labeled Steinbeck as an adventure novelist and never cared about him anymore. Years later, rummaging through my father's books, I found a small novel by the American writer: The Pearl. Intrigued by the title and thinking that those pages, however few, would have given me a great adventure, because now the concept I had of the author was that of an adventure narrator, I started reading, eager to immerse myself in who knows what imaginative world. What a great mistake I made in having considered John Steinbeck a simple, albeit profound, storyteller. In that little novel there is the whole set of feelings and passions that animate a family. There is the desire and the will for redemption from an uncomfortable condition, there is hope for a better future, the determination to achieve an improvement in one's existence at any price. John Steinbeck was not a simple minstrel of daring adventures, he was the spokesperson for the problems that afflict humanity, he is the inimitable descriptor of the deepest values of the human consortium. Pian Della Tortilla is the hymn to friendship. True friendship, the one that sacrifices personal interests in compliance with existential assumptions that go beyond having and are identified with being part of a communion of elective affinities between men, one above all: friendship.
The same theme is dealt with in Vicolo Cannery. Those guys, eternal idlers, who animate the novel, in their desecrating behavior of every human value, in the end cannot evade the feeling they feel, which once again is friendship, albeit this time, combined with respect. Respect and friendship we still find in Mice and Men and between the two friends, George the intelligent one, feels for Lennie mentally retarded, a great sense of respect, which comes from true friendship, to the point of killing him to save him from the lynching of the crowd. It is impossible to reduce to a few words the meaning of life and transcendence that emanates from the pages of Furore, John Steinbeck's masterpiece. In this book there is all the desire for redemption of a humanity disheartened and vilified by the relentless progress that paves the streets with corpses in its progress. Here Steinbeck, self-made man, instills all his experiences as a man on the street and masterfully draws a civilization that seems to be close only in misfortunes, as if evil is the only glue of existence and only in poverty it is possible to find community of interests, solidarity. Steinbeck and Hesse are the authors who have had and have more hold in my spirit as a man. Both touch the strings of my soul and even if in a different way, both represent the compendium and the totality of existential ideology. Hesse is the profound, cultured explorer of the human soul, Steinbeck is the witty connoisseur of everyday life. If one day, a writer was born capable of producing as in a zygote, the fusion of the generative processes of the two writers, we would undoubtedly find ourselves faced with the absolute perfection of writing.