SNIPPET: Beauty and tragedy

When the night came again it was black night, for the stars could not pierce the dust to get down, and the window lights could not even spread beyond their own yards. Now the dust was evenly mixed with the air, an emulsion of dust and air. Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes. The people brushed it from their shoulders. Little lines of dust lay at the door sills.

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

In my edition of the book, “people” is spelled with an “r.” So it reads “prople” instead of “people.” That made me chuckle. I’m amused whenever I catch a typo or a spelling mistake in a book, particularly in old or secondhand books. The perfectionist in me should cringe, but somehow she’s more forgiving when the mistake is in a book from a bygone time. I don’t know why that is. There’s something about old things that make imperfections okay, or even desirable. Do any of you feel the same way?

Anyway. I’ve started reading The Grapes of Wrath and while it’s been slow progress I’m enjoying the book very much. The first chapter is by far my favorite. I’m in awe at how Steinbeck breathes life into his description of the desolate and dusty landscape of drought-ridden Oklahoma, and how he describes the tragedy with such frankness and yet with beautiful, haunting imagery. My respect for him as a writer has without a doubt increased this past week.

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One thought on “SNIPPET: Beauty and tragedy”

  1. the grapes of wrath left me speechless when I first read it in high school.

    I once caught several spelling mistakes in a book published by a university press. I was just in shock. I always thought books were infallible till then :)

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