John Steinbeck's Letter Offering Lessons In Love For Teenage Son

John Steinbeck's Letter Offering Lessons In Love For Teenage Son

One of our favourite blogs - the treasure trove that is Letters of Note - has published a letter written by John Steinbeck to his son Thom advising him about love.

Dated November 1958, six years after he wrote one of his greatest masterpieces East Of Eden, Steinbeck's note is a response to his teenage son's declaration that he had fallen for a girl he was at boarding school with.

Thomas Myles was the first of Steinbeck's two children with his second wife Gwyndolyn. He grew up to become a writer in his own right, publishing short stories, screenplays and in 2010 his first novel - In the Shadow of the Cypress. Thom also served in Vietnam in the 1960s as a helicopter door gunner, and returned to the country after his service as a combat photographer.

But long before that, he was just another teenage boy hopelessly in love for the first time, and his father's tender encouragement makes for a beautiful read.

In it he says:

There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.

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