September 17, 2014

Ed Ricketts -- John Stienbeck's "partner in crime"

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photo by Donald Kinney

Located adjacent to Monterey Bay Aquarium is this aging wooding structure; Pacific Biological Laboratories, Ed Rickett's business that provided marine specimens for study to educational institutions worldwide; 1923 to 1948.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Edward F. Ricketts (1897–1948) was an American marine biologist, ecologist, and philosopher. He is best known for a pioneering study of intertidal ecology; Between Pacific Tides (1939), and for his influence on writer John Steinbeck. In 1940 Ricketts and Stienbeck journeyed on a chartered fishing boat to La Paz, Baha California to collect invertebrates. This resulted in their collaboration on Steinbeck's The Sea of Cortez book, published in 1951.

In 1945, Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row was published. Ricketts was the model for "Doc" and instantly became a celebrity--tourists and journalists began seeking him out. Steinbeck portrayed "Doc" as a many-faceted intellectual who was somewhat outcast from intellectual circles, a party-loving drinking man, in close touch with the working class and with the prostitutes and bums of Monterey's Cannery Row. It is reported that Ricketts was not happy with Steinbeck's description of him, but he did admit the portrayal was honest.   [source: Wikipedia and Monterey Bay Aquarium]

Ricketts was also portrayed by Steinbeck as "Doc" in Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row; as "Friend Ed" in Burning Bright; as "Doc Burton" in In Dubious Battle; as Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath; and as "Doctor Winter" in The Moon is Down.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Something I found rather interesting:   Ricketts also influenced Joseph Campbell (1904–1987); mythologist, writer and lecturer. This was an important period in the development of Campbell's thinking about the epic journey of "the hero with a thousand faces." Campbell lived for a while next door to Ricketts in Pacific Grove, and accompanied him on a 1932 journey to Juneau, Alaska. Like Steinbeck, Campbell played with a novel written round Ricketts as hero, but unlike Steinbeck, Campbell didn't complete the book.

Donald Kinney Quarterly - volume 2014 issue 3 will be available October 1
Donald Kinney Quarterly - volume 2014 issue 2
Donald Kinney Quarterly - volume 2014 issue 1


John @ Beans and I on the Loose said...

Interesting how an "unknown" influenced so many well-knowns.

AphotoAday said...

Yes, indeed, JOHN, SINBAD'S DAD… I was reading in the Wikipedia article; "His sister Frances said of him that he had a mind like a dictionary and was often in trouble for correcting teachers and other adults". (((obviously a very smart man)))

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