From John Steinbeck to Pascal Covici

Was checking Steinbeck’s East of Eden yesterday, before giving it to a friend. Stopped by a note at the front page of the book from John Steinbeck to Pascal Covici who was his editor at The Viking Press, as he prepared the manuscript for “East of Eden”.
Steinbeck dedicated the book to “Pat” as he used to call his beloved friend. When the manuscript was finished he placed it in a wooden box that he had carved and presented it to Pat. Here is what he wrote at the front page of his novel:

Dear Pat,
You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said,
“Why don’t you make something for me?”
I asked you what you wanted and you said, “A box.”
“What For?”
“To put things in.”
“What things?”
“Whatever you have.” You said.
Well here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts—the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.
And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.
And still the box is not full.

Published in: on March 23, 2005 at 4:18 pm  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Whatever happened to the Box?

  2. […] There was something I found really interesting, however, and that’s the letter Steinbeck wrote to Pascal Covici. I looked up this guy, and apparently he was Steinbeck’s editor, and the box Steinbeck refers to is a box that he delivered the manuscript of East of Eden in.  (source) […]

  3. […] Kudos till Nermeena […]

  4. I was wondering what or who Pascal Covici was I have been quoting this letter in class and now I get chills when I know now who this person is. I want to read everything Steinbeck wrote. I actually feel that I have become a better writer artist and person by Steinbeck.

  5. He was actually my uncle!

  6. As beautiful as this novel is, this dedication is equal. Love it/

  7. Have recently started reading many of Steinbeck’s masterpieces and today began EAST OF EDEN and was also very touched by the dedication and went on line to find out more about Mr. Covici. I have THE STEINBECK OMNIBUS selected by Pascal Covici published 1950 and just had to know more about Mr. Covici. A very impressive individual and we certainly need to know about him and be reminded of his contributions and great works.

  8. Not sure where this came from but E of E is my favorite book

  9. Reblogged this on Dentro il cerchio.

  10. I am the husband of Joan C. Covici, former wife of Pascal Covici, Jr. The box and handwritten inscription dedicating the box to “Pat,” is still owned by the Covici family. Originally, the box contained both the inscription and the handwritten manuscript of EAST OF EDEN, which is now owned by the University of Texas.

    Excerpt from NY Times obituary:

    Pascal Covici, a senior editor of the Viking Press who was known throughout publishing as a buoyant man with limit­less sympathy and a gift for getting the best from writers, died yesterday at Doctors Hos­pital. He would have been 76 years old on Nov. 4.

    John Steinbeck, one of nu­merous celebrated writers who achieved success during years with Mr. Covici, said of him yesterday: “Pat Covici was much more than my friend. He was my editor.”

    “Only a writer can under­stand how a great editor is father, mother, teacher, personal devil and personal god,” Mr. Steinbeck went on. “For nearly 40 years Pat was my collabora­tor and my conscience. He de­manded of me more than I had and thereby caused me to be more than I should have been without him.”

    At Viking, Mr. Covici was the editor for Saul Bellow, Ar­thur Miller, Lionel Trilling, George Gamow, Willy Ley and the late Ludwig Bemelmans and Gene Fowler. The Steinbeck novel, “East of Eden,” was dedi­cated to Mr. Covici.

    Dedication in ‘Herzog’

    Mr. Bellow wrote in the front of his recently published novel, “Herzog”: “To Pat Covici, a great editor and, better yet, a generous friend, this book is affectionately dedicated.” Such expressions of affection came to the white‐haired, blue‐eyed edi­tor from numerous writers and publishing colleagues.

    Fans and friends of Covici/Steinbeck will enjoy Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters Dec 1, 1990
    by John Steinbeck
    Cheap used copies on Amazon

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