Marine biologist Edward F. Ricketts is perhaps best known as the inspiration for John Steinbeck's most empathic literary characters - "Doc" in Cannery Row, "Slim" in Of Mice and Men, Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath, and Lee in East of Eden. The correspondence of this accomplished scientist, writer, and philosopher reveals the influential exchange of ideas he shared with such prominent thinkers and artists as Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, Ellwood Graham, and James Fitzgerald, in addition to Steinbeck - all of whom were drawn to Ricketts's Monterey Bay laboratory, a haven of intellectual discourse and Bohemian culture in the 1930s and 1940s. The 134 previously unpublished letters of this collection, housed at the Stanford University Library, document the broad range of Ricketts's interests and accomplishments during the last 12 and most productive years of his life. His handbook on Pacific marine life, Between Pacific Tides, is still in print, now in its fifth edition. The biologist's devotion to ecological conservation and his evolving philosophy of science as a cross-disciplinary, holistic pursuit led to the publication of The Sea of Cortez.
Many of Ricketts's letters discuss his studies of the Pacific littoral and his theories of "phalanx" and transcendence. Epistles to family members, often tender and humorous, add dimension and depth to Steinbeck's mythologized depictions of Ricketts. Editor Katharine A. Rodger has enriched the correspondence with an introduction, a biographical essay, and a list of works cited. The book will be important for students of John Steinbeck and the development of 20th-century American fiction, as well as those interested in the history of science, especially in the fields of marine biology and ecology.
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 644 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm
"The letters do not disappoint. They are especially rich in the type of free-ranging discourse on art, literature, and music that attracted Ricketts's coterie, as well as in his special qualities as a friend, chief among them his self-deprecating humor and his deep and compassionate interest in the problems and motivations of others."--Susan Beegel, coauthor of "Steinbeck and the Environment" and editor of "The Hemingway Review