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Publisher's Summary

Set in familiar Steinbeck territory, To a God Unknown is a mystical tale, exploring one man's attempt to control the forces of nature and, ultimately, to understand the ways of God.

©2012 Penguin Audio (P)1933 John Steinbeck

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 04-28-13

My Favorite Steinbeck; Terrible and Beautiful

I love Steinbeck and this has, for many years, been my favorite and was not available on Audible until recently. This early Steinbeck has exceptional writing and numerous elements appearing in his later works, in a pure, condensed, and powerful form. This novel has potent mystical imagery which might not sit well with some religious folks. Perhaps that is why this novel does not get the attention I think it deserves. The excellently narration complements the intensely beautiful and terrible writing. Like the Grapes of Wrath, this is an intense read without a lot of fun but with a thoughtful concentrated unflinching examination of life and death.

50 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Early Steinbeck and Good Narrator

I've recently read and listened to most of Steinbeck's major works, and now want to work through his lesser known works.

To a God Unknown was a good story. The subject matter and themes were interesting to me, so that probably helped my appreciation of it all. While this book definitely isn't as good as his other pieces, it was interesting to see all the hints of things to come.

Jonathan Davis did a very good job as the narrator. Very professional and he suited the material very well.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jessica
  • MACON, GA, United States
  • 10-08-13

Classic and Amazing

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book is so good, and the narrator's voice matches the idea of the characters and setting perfectly. Such a good listen. :)

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 05-27-13

Interesting minor, early Steinbeck novel

An early Steinbeck filled with amazing biblical, pagan, and Greek images. The novel essentially relates the relationship between Joseph and his homesteading out West with his family. It is a story of four brothers who move from the East (Vermont) to the West (California) to homestead the land. Joseph Wayne isn't the oldest, but he is the leader/patriarch of the brothers ever since their dying father gave him his blessing (hints at Isaac’s blessing on Jacob). Joseph is convinced that his father's spirit abides in a large oak tree on his farm. He communes, talks, seeks advice and sacrifices to the Oak.

It isn't my favorite Steinbeck, but there were parts that were amazing and powerful.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Great performance, very good story

Where does To a God Unknown rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

A very well narrated audiobook. Solid performance!

What other book might you compare To a God Unknown to and why?

Compared to other works by John Steinbeck I'd say this one is a bit less compelling.

Definitely a good read, full of symbolism in the good old-fashioned and thought provoking Steinbeck style, but (to me) it still ranks below his other works.

What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Although I occasionally disagreed with the narrator's interpretation of the tone, he brought a very credible rendition of the characters' voices, accents and feelings throughout most of the story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful book!

I highly recommend this book to listen because it is a John Steinbeck special. It is very relaxing and because i had a lot of anxiety in my life this book is a relief. Thanks John Steinbeck, Rest In Peace.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Descriptions A+

This is my favorite John Steinbeck book. The descriptions of plant and land and animal are so drenched with feeling, I cannot shake it from my person. I carry this world in my heart

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Located within the interface between real and surreal

There is a sense of the surreal as that which is super-real, above, or behind, or prior to what we refer to as “real”. This is Joseph’s land and John Steinbeck respects that location so thoroughly that he never adulterates its character-place with even the slightest embellishment of its organic phenomenology. Even though exquisite beauty and unbearable ugliness, pure happiness and pure pain, are some of its character traits, there is no invitation to speculate whether Joseph is mad or preternaturally sane. Whatever else that who-where-when is, it simply is what it is, a justification unto itself.

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Vibrating with all there is

The story recalled for me Samuel Clemens’ search for God and his conclusion that if we are created in his image what a sorry deity He is indeed (paraphrasing). Joseph exceeded most people’s image of a god conceived in the lowly reaches of fear and ignorance. The story’s twists of fate and willful endeavors of his brother to foist an image of a vengeful god on Joseph brought into sharp relief the one in tune and flow with life and nature and the other strapped to the limitations of narrow conventions hewn from that very fear of not daring to challenge them.

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Great story

Mr Davis did an excellent job with the characters voices and accents. I enjoyed this performance so much.