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John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and I am lucky enough to be visiting his old stomping grounds – Monterey and Carmel – this weekend. The area is rich in agriculture, sweeping scenery, and amazing seafood. The beauty of the area is enough to nourish a writer’s soul and inspire great writing.

On the drive here I read up on our friend John. I didn’t realize (or remember) he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. In his acceptance speech in Stockholm he said, in part:

“The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit—for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”

Whoa. I had to read what Mr. Smarty-Pants Steinbeck said several times to get his point. It is a pretty deep comment and I’m not sure I agree with the last sentence about “perfectibility of man.” Does that mean I don’t have “any membership in literature”?

What do you think he meant by the line? Do you agree?