The Long Valley, published in 1938, is the ninth volume from John Steinbeck and is a collection of 12 unrelated short stories. The book was released to positive critical reviews and robust sales for a short story collection. All but one of the stories (“Saint Katy the Virgin”) are set in the titular Central Valley of California and some of the stories are among the most famous and renowned of Steinbeck’s career, including “The Chrysanthemums” and “The Red Pony.”
As is usually the case in such collections, most of the stories in The Long Valley had previously been published in magazines. “Breakfast” was published Pacific Weekly in 1936, for instance. By contrast, “The Vigilante” which appears in the collection is a revision of a story originally published two years earlier under the title “Case History.” Several stories in the collection were later adapted into feature films or episodes of TV anthologies. These include “The Red Pony,” “Flight,” and “The Chrysanthemums.”
A highlight of The Long Valley for many scholars and readers is the ambiguous and strangely unsettling story “The Snake” which overlays Freudian psychology with Old Testament symbolism of Adamic reign over animals and Jungian animus toward the castrating female.