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Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, Limited Editions Club (1970)

John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968) was an American author whose works received significant  critical acclaim in the twentieth century and remain very popular today. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, capping off a prolific career of writing novels, short stories and non-fiction. He is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939), along with East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). Many of Steinbeck’s works have indelibly been wound into the fabric of American consciousness when it comes to thinking of the Dust Bowl and life in the Great Depression.   Steinbeck was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. His works are often required reading in high schools across America, despite occasional banning in various school districts throughout the country (usually for reasons of ‘offensive’ language).

Of Mice and Men is an unforgettably tragic story of two migrant workers in search of work in California during the Great Depression. The story is familiar to most. George Milton, hard-working, uneducated but intelligent, and Lennie Small, a large, strong man with limited mental capabilities are best of friends, with George essentially being Lennie’s protector. They find a job at a ranch where they hope to earn enough to attain their dream of buying their own plot of land. Curley, the angry son of their boss, takes a dislike to Lennie. One evening, George goes into town leaving Lennie at the ranch. Curley’s flirtatious wife finds Lennie in the barn, talks with him and offers to allow him to stroke her hair. She realizes his strength and lack of control and screams; Lennie, panicked, accidentally breaks her neck trying to keep her quiet. George meets Lennie at a predetermined spot where they had planned to meet should Lennie ever find himself in trouble. After comforting Lennie, George shoots him in the back of the head so that his death is painless and happy, versus the lynching that surely would happen when Curley and the gang would catch him.

Independence, friendship and loneliness are constant themes in the story, as is the plight of the common man in the face of the deep economic depression. The title Of Mice and Men is taken from the famous lines “the best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry” from Robert Burns‘ poem To a Mouse. The book was an immediate critical success and remains both popular and influential today. According to one source, the character of Lennie Small is used as the standard for legal mental retardation for executing a prisoner in Texas.

I struggle a bit with this Limited Editions Club (LEC) edition. While the binding is unique, nice and of commendable size, neither the paper, type or illustrations completely work for me. The publication of this edition by LEC fits into that time-period of the early 1970’s where the overall quality just seems a notch or two below earlier works from the LEC. 1970 was when the Macy’s sold the LEC to Boise Cascade Corporation who, in turn, sold it to Ziff-Davis Publishing Company; Ziff-Davis then sold to Cardavon Press. From 1970 until Cardavon Press sold the LEC in 1978 to Sidney Shiff, the club struggled and the works, in the opinion of many, were not quite up to the standards the Macy’s had set.

About the Edition

Pictures of the Edition

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{Ed. Note: Apologies for some pictures being a bit out of focus; these pictures were taken at a book store (Book Gallery in Phoenix), not at my controlled picture taking environment.}

Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Spine
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Book in Slipcase
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Spine
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Portion of Front Cover
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Title Page and Frontispiece
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text (sorry, blurry)
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Sample Text
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
Of Mice and Men, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Signature


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