Archive, Field Notes, Literature

 John Steinbeck

“Plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”

John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Tidepool, 70 Degrees Collection, 35mm

Penguin Books summarized The Log from the Sea of Cortez. “In 1940, Steinbeck and biologist Edward F. Ricketts ventured aboard the “Western Flyer,” a sardine boat out of Monterey, California, on a 4,000-mile voyage around the Baja peninsula into the Sea of Cortez. This exciting, day-by-day account of their expedition wonderfully combines science, philosophy, and high-spirited adventure, and provides a much fuller picture of Steinbeck – and his beliefs about man and the world – than any of his fictional works.”

Ricketts, at Monterey, California, in the 1930s, pioneered the science of marine ecology. (Ed Ricketts Jr. / Pat Hathaway Collection)

According to the Smithsonian Magazine “In January and February of 1940, the two men, and Steinbeck’s first wife, Carol, rushed to organize the expedition to Baja California. Originally conceived as a car trip, it had morphed into a 4,000-mile sea journey, with at least 25 stops planned for collecting marine invertebrates. None of the local boat owners would charter them a vessel for such a ridiculous-sounding project, but along came the Western Flyer, sailing into Monterey Bay with captain Tony Berry at the helm. He had done a scientific research trip in Alaska between fishing runs, and found it easy enough, so he agreed to a six-week charter.”

There is a dedicated National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California. View their John Steinbeck biography and online archive at

Correspondence Collection –

John Steinbeck received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature. Read his acceptance speech. Don’t miss the Nobel Prize awards starting with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday, October 5th, 2020.

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