To a God Unknown, Paperback
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


While fulfilling his dead father's dream of creating a prosperous farm in California, Joseph Wayne comes to believe that a magnificent tree on the farm embodies his father's spirit.

His brothers and their families share in Joseph's prosperity and the farm flourishes - until one brother, scared by Joseph's pagan belief, kills the tree and brings disease and famine on the farm.

Set in familiar Steinbeck country, "To A God Unknown" is a mystical tale, exploring one man's attempt to control the forces of nature and to understand the ways of God.




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To a God Unknown is a book full of powerful images. Reading about the mossy stone in its lonely pine grove still makes me shudder, and I am not a superstitious or particularly spiritual person. To the protagonist Joseph, the land is god and god is everything, and it exacts great and terrible payments for the fertility and life that Joseph craves. Like almost of all of Steinbeck’s novels, it is beautifully written and full of vividly drawn people. However in other ways it is very unlike most of his novels. It isn’t funny, not even a little, and it isn’t quite about people. I can’t quite describe what it is about (the interconnectedness of all life? human longing for kinship with nature? fate?), or adequately explain the feelings it evokes in me.

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