A Year Of Platinum and Sapphire — The 70th Anniversary of the Publication of EARTH ABIDES

George R. Stewart kept a Datebook, now in the Bancroft Library George Rippey Stewart Papers.  Two entries bracket this twelve-month, 2018-2019:

1948:

“11/25/48:  Finished first revision Earth Abides”

1949:

October 7 – Earth Abides Published.”

EA Morleys

 

The extraordinary novel has never been out of print, thanks to the late publisher Alan Ligda and his fine-press Hermes Press.  There have been 28 English language versions alone, and the book is also published in 20 – or maybe 27? – other languages.  (A new French Translation has just been published).   It has been called a rare book which transcends its “science fiction” categorization.   And its influence has been exceptional:

Stephen King based The Stand on “Stewart’s fine novel,” and admits it.

Kim Stanley Robinson makes a subtle reference to the novel in the first volume of his Three Californias Triptych, The Wild Shore.

Poet and novelist James Sallis has written an exemplary essay about Earth Abides.

There is talk of filming the epic work.

Composer Philip Aaberg composed a beautiful piano piece, “Earth Abides” (also available as sheet music from Sweet Grass Music.)

Jimi Hendrix considered Earth Abides his favorite book, and is said to have been inspired to compose  “Third Stone From the Sun” by the novel.

And, of course, millions of people have enjoyed and are enjoying the novel.  In some cases, as reviews on Amazon reveal, the book can change lives.

It seems 2019 would be a perfect time to celebrate the novel.

Here are some suggestions for such a celebration:

  1. A second gathering at Indian Rock Park in Berkeley (suggested by one of the followers of this blog).
  2. A visit to the Bancroft Library to review highlights of the GRS Papers that relate to Earth Abides.
  3. A subsequent meal, nearby, after Indian Rock and the Bancroft.
  4. A Dedication of the George R. Stewart Interpretive Sign at Donner Summit.
  5. A hike to the top of George R. Stewart Peak from the Sign.
  6. Hike and Dedication to be followed by a barbeque nearby.

All other ideas are welcomed.  Add them to the comments and I’ll organize and share them.

October 7, 2019, is the target date for the celebration.  But that’s a work day for most people so events should probably be scheduled on the following weekend, which is a 3-day federal holiday.  (Monday, the 14th, is the holiday.)

Any thoughts?

 

Hermes EA

Alan Ligda’s Hermes Press Edition of Earth Abides. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Stewart Scholar

There aren’t too many George R. Stewart Scholars. The pioneers include Robert C. Lyon (Founder of the Friends of George R. Stewart), Vic Moitoret (Founder of the  George R. Stewart Fan Club), Steve Williams (the Pilgrim), and myself.

Now we’ve added a new one: Jason Schultz, Anaheim, California, who’s done remarkable research on the history of the Stewart family orange grove in Anaheim.

One of the rewards of posting to the George R. Stewart weblog is connecting with people like Jason, and sharing the joys of discovery. In his case, he decided to research the location of the Stewart Family Orange Grove  in Anaheim.  Stewart once described the location, vaguely, as about two miles west of the town on a road which is now the main route to Disneyland. 

Jason Schultz was able to pin the location down.  The following email exchange tells the story:

Hi Donald,

I got great information and documents from the Anaheim Heritage Center
and the Orange County Archives. Be sure to credit those institutions as
well!

I first heard from Jane Newell, the Anaheim city archivist.

Here’s what I was able to find at the Anaheim Heritage Center:
1) Property transaction from A. Gregory et al to Robert J. Laidlaw to
George R. Stewart – Santa Ana Register, May 13, 1912 ….
         Property description boils down to a few portions of the
southeast quarter of Section 8, Township 4 South, Range 10 West.
2) …
         Since I don’t see George Stewart’s name in the southeast
quarter of Section 8, I believe it is the parcel still labeled “A.
Gregory” and outlined in green.
         Per the[plat] map, the parcel is on Nutwood, just north of County
Road (aka Lincoln Ave.).

Chris Jepsen with the OC Archives provided some more specifics:

I looked at purchases (grantees) from 1889 through 1926 and sales
(grantors) from 1909 through 1929.

George R. Stewart bought a couple small parcels of land and also bought
half interest in another small parcel – all within the west half of the
southeast quarter of Section 8, Township 4 South, Range 10 West, just
west of Anaheim on April 23, 1912. (Deeds 211/176)  This area is south
of Crescent Ave., north of Lincoln Ave, and east of N. Muller St.

The sellers were Robert J. and Maggie G. Laidlaw (husband and wife). He
bought more adjacent land on Oct. 9, 1914 from Peter W. and Pauline
Schmidt (husband and wife). (Deeds 265/198) And on June 1, 1920, George
R. and Ella W. Stewart went in with their neighbors to jointly purchase
a small parcel of land for a pumping plant in that same area. (Deeds
391/328)

The Stewarts sold their Anaheim property to Bernard D. Parker, (son of
C.E. Parker, president of the Orange County Title Co.), on Feb. 25, 1928.

I was able to find a 1923 newspaper article that is also relevant…

At least part of the grove is now occupied by the Anaheim Union High
School District offices, which perhaps GRS would appreciate as an
educator himself.

Jason also sent a plat map of the property (and other files):

OC Plat Map 010

It’s interesting to note how life paths, after circling around for decades, cross again.  The family Orange Grove, where Stewart worked as a young man, is not far from today’s Disneyland.   Walt Disney would film two of author George R. Stewart’s novels, Fire and Storm.  And Disney eventually invited GRS to work as a consultant at the Disney studio.  Disney, a great fan of Stewart’s, sent the author two personal letters praising his work. 

So the circle of life turns, and turns again.

Schultz’s work is invaluable scholarship.   If the research had been available when I wrote the GRS biography, it would have been included. 

Consider this Jason’s New Year’s gift for all of us, at the beginning of the 70th anniversary year of the publication of Earth Abides. 

(By the way, I owe Jason a slight apology – this was supposed to have been posted last September; but several unexpected matters got in the way.)