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Tortilla Flat

Tortilla Flat

Author(s): John Steinbeck

Location(s): Monterey

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1930s

Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a “Camelot” on a shabby hillside above the town of Monterey, California and peopled it with a colourful band of knights.

At the center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur’s castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. These “knights” are paisanos, men of mixed heritage, whose ancestors settled California hundreds of years before. Free of ties to jobs and other complications of the American way of life, they fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil in the surrounding ocean of civil rectitude.

As Steinbeck chronicles their deeds–their multiple loves, their wonderful brawls, their Rabelaisian wine-drinking–he spins a tale as compelling and ultimately as touched by sorrow as the famous legends of the Round Table, which inspired him.

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