“Angry Raisins”??? What – ?

Okay, so there was this guy called John Steinbeck, and he wrote a book.

He actually wrote a whole bunch of books; but the one that he wrote in 1934, which won the Pulitzer Prize and has been recognized as the seminal novel of American poverty during the Great Depression, was titled “The Grapes Of Wrath.”

(The phrase “The Grapes Of Wrath” comes from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”)

Being one of the great books of the last century, “The Grapes of Wrath” was translated into any number of languages, including Japanese (and Norwegian). There’s a story that goes that sometime after Steinbeck’s death, his widow was visiting Japan (or it might have been Norway), and a fan whose enthusiasm was greater than his English language skills told her that of all of Steinbeck’s books, his favorite was “The Angry Raisins.”

The story is both probably apocryphal, and rather likely. There’s nothing in print with “Grapes of Wrath” rendered as “Angry Raisins,” and Snopes


debunks it for us very nicely. That most versions of the story have it set in Japan, but at least one has it in Norway, doesn’t add any creedence to it. (Sure, I get Japan and Norway confused with each other all the time, but that’s just me. )

But then, anyone struggling to speak in a second language winds up saying all sorts of non-sequitorial nonsense (see also: My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels


so someone, somewhere, has probably made that particular mistranslation at least once – maybe even in Japan (or possibly Norway).

(Whether Elaine Steinbeck would have been there to hear it is much more open to question.)


I mostly just enjoy the absurdity of the idea: “angry raisins.” You can turn the concept over in your mind for hours, and never find a pigeonhole into which it will properly fit. An idea or two like that to carry around in your hip pocket, and you’ll never need be bored.

(If the thought of enjoying absurdity doesn’t appeal to you, this may not be the best blog for you to be reading.)

(If the thought of enjoying absurdity doesn’t appeal to you, and you’re still reading this (and you’re not my mother), please drop me a line to tell me why.)

(If the thought of enjoying absurdity doesn’t appeal to you, and you’re still reading this, and you are my mother – thanks :).


3 Responses to ““Angry Raisins”??? What – ?”

  1. Mumsie Says:

    You are welcome!

  2. fracas Says:

    Was that really your mum? How sweet.

  3. Evelyn Says:

    Yup. She, being far and away my biggest fan :), was one of the first to read this new blog-thingo I’d put together.

    (She was somewhat concerned that my last remark would be of no interest to anyone but herself. I told her I’d leave it in anyway. :)

    When I first wrote it, I wasn’t even really thinking of her – it just seemed the obvious thought to follow my-second-to-last remark (which itself seemed the obvious thought to follow my third-to-last remark).

    It was only afterward that I realized that she’d actually wind up reading it and seeing herself addressed, but I figured she wouldn’t mind. :)

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