John Steinbeck

What happened to the original manuscript of John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men?

And the answer: His dog ate it.

This classic work of American fiction got a makeover after Steinbeck's dog turned about half of the original manuscript into confetti. Though the novel was eventually rewritten and went on to sell millions of copies, Steinbeck is one of few to be able to claim his dog ate his homework.

Of Mice and Men attained one of the greatest positive responses of Steinbeck’s works even before it was published. Named as a selection in the Book of the Month club, the success of Steinbeck’s short novel served as the first proof of his creative model: writing for the page with theater in mind. The plot of the novel occurs over the course of three days and with each chapter arranged as a scene, and each scene confined to one of four locations: a wooded area, the bunkhouse, the stable hand’s room, and the main barn. Immediately after completion, Steinbeck began work on a stage adaptation.

Upon its publication in February 1937, Of Mice and Men quickly became a bestseller, selling over half a million of the first edition. Since then, it has gone on to sell over seven million. It’s one of the most widely-taught novels in American schools despite its somewhat controversial content and themes. In some schools, the novella is even banned due to claims of vulgarity, racism, and its treatment of women.  

Of Mice and Men has been adapted for the screen several times, most notably in 1939 and 1992. Check out the trailer for the 1992 John Malkovitch version below.


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