The 112th birthday of John Steinbeck was celebrated Thursday with a Google Doodle dedicated to his work. Born in Salinas, Calif., Steinbeck was a college dropout who won a Nobel Prize for literature in 1962.
The Google Doodle pulls quotes from three of Steinbeck's novels -- "The Grapes of Wrath," "Cannery Row," "Of Mice and Men" -- all of which sympathetically portray working-class men in difficult conditions. That kind of social novel is rarely found in contemporary literature; it's interesting that Google has chosen to highlight his writing.
The Google Doodle features illustrations that portray the stories in his books and quotes from them. The fourth and final book highlighted in Steinbeck's 1960 memoir "Travels With Charley," about his road trip in pickup accompanied by his dog across America. The country he found, he wrote, was "This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this spawn of the future turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me."
"Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species....