More than any other author of the Modern period of American literature, John Steinbeck evidenced a serious interest and background in moral philosophy. His personal reading collection included works ranging from Kant and Spinoza to Taoism and the Bible. Critics also consistently identify Steinbeck as an author whose work promotes serious moral reflection and whose characters undergo profound moral growth. Yet to date there has been no sustained examination of either John Steinbeck's personal moral philosophy or the ethical features and content of his major works. This critical neglect is remedied by a collection of highly readable essays exploring the philosophy and work of one of America's few Nobel Prize winning authors. These thirteen essays, written by experts both within philosophy and Steinbeck studies, examine almost all of Steinbeck's major works. Included in the compilation are five general essays examining Steinbeck's own moral philosophy and eight specific essays analyzing the ethics of various major works.
Stephen K. George taught literature, writing and philosophy at Brigham Young University, Idaho. He was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal, The Steinbeck Review and Executive Director of The New Steinbeck Society of America.
Part 1 Foreword Part 2 Acknowledgments Part 3 Introduction Part 4 Part I: Steinbeck and Moral Philosophy Chapter 5 John Steinbeck's lower-case utopia: Basic Human Needs, a Duty to Share, and the Good Life Chapter 6 John Steinbeck and the Morality of Roles: Lessons for Business Ethics Chapter 7 John Steinbeck: An Ethics of Fiction Chapter 8 "I Want to Make 'Em Happy": Utilitarian Philosophy in Steinbeck's Fiction Chapter 9 The Existential Vacuum and Ethan Allen Hawley: John Steinbeck's Moral Philosophy Part 10 Part II: Ethical Explorations of Steinbeck's Fiction Chapter 11 Moral Experience in Of Mice and Men: Challenges and Reflections Chapter 12 Of Death, Life, and Virtue in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 13 Judging Elisa Allen: Reader Entrapment in "The Chrysanthemums" Chapter 14 The Power of Strange Faces: Revisiting The Grapes of Wrath with the Postmodern Ethics of Emmanuel Levinas Chapter 15 The Emotional Content of Cruelty: An Analysis of Kate in East of Eden Chapter 16 "No Sanctuary": Reconsidering the Evil of Cathy Ames Trask Chapter 17 Business, Sex, and Ethics in The Wayward Bus Chapter 18 "The Disintegration of a Man": Moral Integrity in The Winter of Our Discontent Part 19 Bibliography Part 20 Index Part 21 About the Contributors Part 22 About the Editor