de Bruce Lawson and Gwyn Conger Steinbeck
Nota de leitura
Este livro descreve a vida de Gwyndolyn (ou Gwyin) Conger Steinbeck (1927 – † 30-12-1975), quando foi casada com o escritor John Steinbeck (foi a segunda mulher dele). O casamento durou desde 1943 a 1948. Foi a única mulher que deu filhos ao escritor: Thomas, que faleceu em 2016 com 72 anos e John que morreu em 1991 com 45 anos.
O texto foi escrito pelo ghostwriter Douglas Brown pouco antes de ela falecer em 1975. Só agora foi publicado.
Ela não é meiga nas descrições do marido, egoísta e autoritário, pouco ligando aos filhos.
Como diz alguém, resta saber como é que ela tratava também o marido.
John Steinbeck vendia muito e sempre viveu na abundância, ainda mais com o prémio Nobel em 1962.
Ainda hoje é muito lido e toda a gente conhece algum dos seus livros: As vinhas da ira, A leste do Paraíso, O Inverno do nosso descontentamento, etc.
O livro lê-se bem, embora não seja totalmente convincente, porque ela teve com Steinbeck uma vida de luxo.
John Steinbeck was a sadistic womaniser, says wife in memoir
Gwyn Conger Steinbeck’s newly unearthed book tells of troubled marriage to author
John Steinbeck’s wife Gwyn Conger Steinbeck describes the author as “a sadistic man” and a serial womaniser, in a newly unearthed memoir found in Wales, which is set to be published for the first time this week.
The manuscript for My Life With John Steinbeck, by the author’s second wife and mother of his two children, has been in Montgomery, Powys ever since its ghostwriter, the British journalist Douglas Brown, died on holiday in Yorkshire in the 1990s. The manuscript was passed to Brown’s brother in Montgomery and was recently discovered by his neighbour Bruce Lawton, who is publishing it.
Brown interviewed Conger Steinbeck in the early 1970s, after she agreed to finally speak about her ex-husband, who had died in 1968, as she was in need of money. Conger Steinbeck died in 1975. Brown never published the memoir, for unknown reasons.
My Life With John Steinbeck recalls a troubled marriage that spanned 1943 to 1948, a period in which he would write classics including Cannery Row and The Pearl. During their marriage, Conger Steinbeck described a husband who was emotionally distant and demanding. “Like so many writers, he had several lives, and in each he was spoilt, and in each he felt he was king,” she wrote. “From the time John awoke to the time he went to bed, I had to be his slave.”
Conger Steinbeck first met the author as a nightclub singer in 1938, when he was married to his first wife, Carol Henning. In 1941, Conger Steinbeck alleges that the author sat her down with Henning and told them both: “Whichever of you ladies needs me the most and wants me the most, then that’s the woman I’m going to have.”
Describing their wedding night, Conger Steinbeck recalls one “Lady M” ringing their bedroom and speaking to the author for more than an hour on the phone. Conger Steinbeck alludes to Lady M being his mistress, writing that the pair had a “matinee about three times a week”.
By her account, Steinbeck rarely showed affection to her or their two sons, Thomas and John Jr, and had never wanted any children. When she was experiencing problems during her pregnancy with John Jr, Steinbeck told her that she had “complicated” his life during a busy period of writing. When John Jr arrived prematurely in 1946, she recalls Steinbeck telling her: “I wish to Christ he’d die, he’s taking up too much of your fucking time.” She identifies the conversation as “the moment when love died”.
“He never cried for me. He never cried for his sons. He never cried for anybody. But he cried for a rat called Burgess,” she wrote. “John was a sadistic man, of many emotions, but being sadistic was one of his unattractive qualities. He would let people in and set Burgess loose and gain a great sense of enjoyment, watching people scream and pull up their legs.”
Lawton said the book was not intended to damage Steinbeck’s legacy. “It was a question of fairness,” he told the Guardian. “As soon as I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, this is obviously of fair significance.’ I realised Gwyn had been airbrushed out of Steinbeck history. He traded the first wife in for the younger one – Gwyn – but he was so nasty to her that she kicked him out and so he married the third, Elaine. She published a book [Steinbeck: A Life in Letters], so I thought it was only fair that this be published too.”
After their divorce, Conger Steinbeck would remain a presence in his life: Steinbeck claimed his ex-wife was the inspiration for Cathy Ames, the murderous and conniving antagonist in his 1952 novel East of Eden, who he described as a “psychic monster” with a “malformed soul”.
Jay Parini, who wrote a biography of Steinbeck in 1994, describes the memoir in a foreword as “a genuinely significant literary discovery”.
“I found it impossible to get a good take on Gwyn,” he writes. “Obviously, Steinbeck was wildly attracted to her: she was beautiful, tall and willowy. But as she had passed away, it was impossible to know how she really felt about her famous husband and what that marriage was really like.”
Lawton said: “He was pretty awful to Gwyn, but she was probably also pretty awful to him – after all, this is her side of the story.
“She was probably a little foolish to get involved with him – but then again, he did pursue her.”
7 September 2018
Celebrated author John Steinbeck spent his wedding night on the phone with an alleged mistress, wished his newborn son had died, and enjoyed setting his pet rat loose in the home just to see the frightened reaction from guests, according to a new book by his second wife.
Gwyn Conger Steinbeck was married to the Grapes of Wrath author for six years during the 1940s.
A manuscript she wrote which details her ‘sadistic’ husband’s volatile personality has recently been discovered in Wales, according to The Times of London.
The manuscript, which has been turned into a book, My Life With John Steinbeck, is due to be published this week.
Gwyn Steinbeck was a nightclub singer in Los Angeles when she met the then-married author in 1938.
During their time together, John Steinbeck authored some of his greatest masterpieces, including The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and The Red Pony.
Grapes of Wrath earned Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize, cementing his status as one of America’s literary giants.
But the Nobel laureate apparently had a dark side that was hidden from public view.
Like so many writers, he had several lives, and in each he was spoilt, and in each he felt he was king,’ Gwyn Steinbeck writes.
‘From the time John awoke to the time he went to bed, I had to be his slave.’
She recalled that in 1941, Steinbeck left her and his first wife, Carol Henning, in a room and said to them, smiling: ‘Whichever of you ladies needs me the most and wants me the most, then that’s the woman I’m going to have.’
When Gwyn Steinbeck married him two years later, he spent 90 minutes on the telephone with a ‘Lady M’ on their wedding night.
John Steinbeck said he and ‘Lady M’ had a ‘matinee about three times a week’ - hinting that she was his mistress.
Gwyn Steinbeck wrote that while her husband rarely showed emotion for her or his children, he deeply mourned the death of his pet rat, Burgess.
‘He never cried for me,’ she wrote. ‘He never cried for his sons. He never cried for anybody.
‘But he cried for a rat called Burgess.’
Describing him as ‘sadistic,’ she wrote that her husband would use the rat to frighten others.
‘John was a sadistic man, of many emotions, but being sadistic was one of his unattractive qualities,’ Gwyn Steinbeck wrote.
‘He would let people in and set Burgess loose and gain a great sense of enjoyment, watching people scream and pull up their legs.’
John Steinbeck’s affection for his pet rat is in stark contrast to how he felt about his own children.
Gwyn Steinbeck gave birth to two of his sons.
When she was in labor with her first son, Thomas, she began suffering from difficulties with the birth.
This led her husband to scold her for ‘complicating’ his life while he was writing a book.
In 1946, their second son, John Jr, was born prematurely.
As their newborn suffered from fits of screaming in his first days, his father ‘burst through the door and said, “I wish to Christ he’d die, he’s taking up too much of your f***ing time.”
‘That was the moment when love died,’ she wrote.
Gwyn Steinbeck eventually divorced her husband two years afterward.
The two did not separate on amicable terms.
John Steinbeck would draw on his marriage with Gwyn to gain inspiration for creating the character of Cathy Ames in the novel East of Eden.
Ames is described by Steinbeck in his novel as ‘a psychic monster’ with a ‘malformed soul.’
John Steinbeck remarried in 1950, when he wed actress Elaine Scott. They were together until his death in 1968 at the age of 66.
Gwyn Steinbeck recalled details of her marriage to John Steinbeck during interviews with Douglas Brown, a British journalist, in 1972.
Gwyn died in 1975.
In 1997, Brown traveled to his native England. During his trip, he died.
The manuscript containing Gwyn’s recollections passed on to his daughter, Candace, who gave it to her father’s brother, John.
John Brown, a native of Montgomery, Wales, then showed the manuscript to a neighbor, Bruce Lawson.
Lawson, an author, decided to publish Gwyn Steinbeck’s manuscript.
It is titled My Life With John Steinbeck.
John Steinbeck Jr died in 1991.
His brother, Thomas Steinbeck, died in 2016.