A unpublished typescript could bring to light new important characters of the artistic personality of John Steinbeck, one of the most famous authors of American literature, who passed away in 1962. Steinbeck wrote at least three novels which were never published. Two were destroyed by the young writer as he struggled to make a name for himself. But a third survived, closed in an archive since it was rejected for publication in 1930: it is a story of werewolves, entitled “Murder at Full Moon”, signed with the pseudonym of Peter Pym.
To ask for its publication more than 50 years after the death of the writing, is Gavin Jones, British academic, professor of American literature at Stanford University, who asked the foundation that brings together Steinbeck’s heirs to finally allow the publication of the work on the werewolf, written almost a decade before masterpieces such as “Men and mice”, “Furore” and “The Valley of Eden” which earned him the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature.
According to Jones, “there would be enormous public interest in a totally unknown novel about a werewolf signed by one of the best known and most widely read American writers of the twentieth century ”, as reported by“ The Guardian ”. However, at least for now, the agents who manage Steinbeck’s literary rights do not seem willing to authorize the printing of the unpublished.
In any case, Jones will announce the results of his archival research in the volume “Reclaiming John Steinbeck: Writing for the Future of Humanity”, which will be published by Cambridge University Press on 10 June. The 233-page typescript is kept in the archives of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Set in a fictional Californian coastal town, “Murder at Full Moon” tells the story of a community living in a nightmare after a series of gruesome murders that occurred during the full moon. Investigators fear a supernatural monster has emerged from nearby swamps. Among the characters of the novel there is also a shady passionate weapon collector and an eccentric amateur detective who sets out to solve mysterious crimes using techniques inspired by his obsession with detective fiction.
In the unpublished also two illustrations by the same writer which represent the plan of the building where the murders took place and the bodies of the victims and are fictitiously made by one of the characters trying to solve the murders. Professor Jones describes the unpublished novel as “a world away from Steinbeck’s realist representations of the American Great Depression,” which may explain why he wrote it under the pseudonym of Peter Pym. “Although it is very different from Steinbeck’s other works, it actually reflects his interest in violent human transformation, the human-animal connection investigation found throughout his work – explained the scholar – It is certainly not Steinbeck. realist, but the naturalist Steinbeck, interested in human nature. It is a disturbing story in which the atmosphere is one of secrecy, shrouded in a mist that appears malignant ”.
In another archive – the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University – Jones also unearthed a virtually complete and unpublished story of Steinbeck entitled “Case History”. It is an earlier version of a published story, “The Vigilante,” based on an actual lynching in San Jose in 1933 of two men accused of kidnapping and murdering a citizen.