The Pearl


By John Steinbeck

All manner of people grew interested in Kino – people with things to sell and people with favors to ask. Kino had found the Pearl of the World. The essence of pearl mixed with essence of men and a curious dark residue was precipitated. Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts, the hungers, of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy. The news stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town; the black distillate was like the scorpion, or like hunger in the smell of food, or like loneliness when love is withheld. The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it.

La perla


Di John Steinbeck

Ogni genere di persona iniziò a nutrire un interesse per Kino – persone con cose da vendere e persone con favori da chiedere. Kino aveva trovato la Perla del Mondo. L’essenza della perla si era mischiata all’essenza degli uomini ed un curioso residuo scuro si era sedimentato. Ogni uomo all’improvviso entrò in relazione con la perla di Kino, e la perla di Kino penetrò nei sogni, nelle speculazioni, nei progetti, nei piani, nel futuro, nei desideri, nei bisogni, nelle voglie, nelle brame di ognuno e soltanto una persona ostacolava tutto questo e quella persona era Kino, che curiosamente divenne così il nemico di tutti.  La notizia smosse qualcosa d’infinitamente oscuro e malvagio in città; il nero distillato era come lo scorpione, o come la fame nell’odore di cibo, o come la solitudine quando negato è l’amore. Le sacche tossiche della città cominciarono a produrre veleno e la città si gonfiò e sbuffò sotto la sua pressione.

Traduzione by Mirka Del Pasqua

Winner of the Nobel Prize in 1962, of John Steinbeck they wrote that he was  one of “the masters of modern American literature” because of “his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and a keen social perception.”


The pearl , from which the excerpt is taken, analyses the darkest folds of human nature. Steinbeck wrote that he created the story of The Pearl to address the themes of “human greed, materialism, and the inherent worth of a thing.”

Mirka Del Pasqua is a young poet and translator. You can find her at:

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2 thoughts on “The Pearl/La perla by John Steinbeck (excerpt)

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