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The Forgotten Village by John Steinbeck
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The Forgotten Village

Life in a Mexican Village

$10.50 USD

Narrator Jonathan Davis
Length 35 minutes
Language English
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The novelist who wrote THE GRAPES OF WRATH and the director who produced CRISIS AND LIGHTS OUT in Europe combined their superb talents to tell the story of the coming of modern medicine to the natives of Mexico. There have been several notable examples of this pen-camera method of narration, but THE FORGOTTEN VILLAGE is unique among them in that the text was written before a single picture was shot. The book and the movie from which it was made have, thus, a continuity and a dramatic growth not to be found in the so-called "documentary" films.

The camera crew that, headed by Kline and with Steinbeck's script at hand, recorded this narrative of birth and death, of witch doctors and vaccines, of the old Mexico and the new, spent nine months off the trails of Mexico. They traveled thousands of miles to find just the village they needed; they borrowed children from the government school, took men from the fields, their wives from the markets, an old medicine woman from her hut by the side of the trail. The motion picture they made (for release in 1941) is 8000 feet long. From this wealth of pictures 136 photographs were selected for their intrinsic beauty and for the graceful harmony with which they accompany Steinbeck's text.

This new script-photograph technique of narration conveys its ideas with unexcelled brilliance and immediacy. In the hands of such master story-tellers as Steinbeck and Kline, it makes the reader catch his breath.

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).

After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.

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