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Of Mice and Men

From Academic Kids

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Of Mice and Men book cover

Of Mice and Men is a novella by John Steinbeck, first published in 1937, which tells the tragic story of George and Lennie, two displaced Anglo migrant farm workers during the Great Depression.

Lennie is a large strong man with the mind of a child, and George is a small man with a quick wit who cares for him. The title of the story refers to a line in "To a Mouse" by the Scottish poet Robert Burns--a reference to plans gone awry. George and Lennie hope to save up enough money to buy a small farm of their own (Lennie is obsessed with the prospect of caring for rabbits), but this goal always remains out of reach. Other characters' misunderstanding of Lennie's mental handicap, and Lennie's lack of control of his own great strength, lead to tragedy.

Steinbeck originally intended the story to be a play, and it has been produced as one. In many ways, the story is structured as a play, with several long scenes, stage direction-like descriptions, and large amounts of dialogue.

Steinbeck wrote this book, along with The Grapes of Wrath, in what is now Monte Sereno, California, in the home at 16250 Greenwood Lane.

The novel was banned from various American school libraries or curricula in 1993 and 1994 for "profane language, moral statement, treatment of the retarded, and the 'violent ending'" but remains required reading in many other American high school English courses. Also, it now appears as one of the possible books that can be studied for GCSE English in England and Wales, and the Leaving Certificate in Ireland.

Films

The novel was made into three films:

The 1939 film, Of Mice and Men starring Lon Chaney Jr. (Lennie) and Burgess Meredith (George), directed by Lewis Milestone
The 1981 TV movie, Of Mice and Men starring Randy Quaid (Lenny) and Robert Blake (George), Ted Neeley (Curley), directed by Reza Badiyi
The 1992 film, Of Mice and Men, starring John Malkovich (Lennie) and Gary Sinise (George)

Opera

Carlisle Floyd wrote an opera based on this novel in 1970.

ISBN numbers

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