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Sweet Thursday

Sweet Thursday

4.4 18
by John Steinbeck, Robert DeMott (Introduction)

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In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that are just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of Cannery Row—the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears—from


In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that are just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of Cannery Row—the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears—from Doc, based on Steinbeck’s lifelong friend Ed Ricketts, to Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction and notes by Robert DeMott.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Editorial Reviews

A postwar continuation of Cannery Row, [Sweet Thursday is] every bit as juicy and relaxed as the original. . . . This is comedy—bawdy, sentimental, and good fun.
New Republic
An emphatic and clear-cut statement of Steinbeck's greatest theme: the common bonds of humanity and love which make goodness and happiness possible.
Library Journal
Published in 1954, this continues the tale begun in Cannery Row. The setting is the same, and familiar characters return—Mack and his buddies and marine biologist Doc. But there are changes, too. Joseph-and-Mary Rivas is the new owner of Lee Chong's grocery store, and Fauna has taken over the Bear Flag brothel from her sister Dora. Cannery Row was not immune to the changes wrought by World War II. Doc has returned from his military service to reopen Western Biological Supply. Before the war, he was content to collect and sell specimens and listen to classical music. Now, he feels intensely lonely and also pressured to publish the results of his scientific work. Mack and Fauna conspire to pair him with Suzy, the Bear Flag's new girl. The best of intentions go awry in a humorous and charming series of misunderstandings. VERDICT Jerry Farden's straightforward reading allows the listener to discern the irony and humor of which the characters are unaware. A welcome choice for public libraries that could be part of a "Heard any classics?" display.—Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Penguin Classics Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

Robert DeMott, editor, is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University and author of Steinbeck's Typewriter, an award-winning book of critical essays.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 27, 1902
Date of Death:
December 20, 1968
Place of Birth:
Salinas, California
Place of Death:
New York, New York
Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925

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Sweet Thursday 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
davidc0469 More than 1 year ago
I was travelling to Paris with my wife and decided to bring Cannery Row with me as my read for both the flight and while in the city. While I did not get much reading done while in Paris on the flight home COULD NOT put the book down. The focal point of the story (in my opinion a romantic comedy) is Doc and his return to Cannery Row after service in WW II. Doc struggles with finding happiness/peace and fullfillment and it is finally realized that his real struggle is not completing a great scientific find or the paper that will "define" him but was rather his denial in heart for the love he had for the stories other main character Suzy. Mac and his cohorts from the Palace Flophouse play a large role is making Doc realize that his inner peace can only come when he stops denying his lonliness and admits his love for Suzy. Hazel (a man whose parents never changed his name when born expecting a girl) is the hero you could say of the moment and whose actions are the focal point in the story. Fauna the town madame is seen as caring person to her girls and makes it point to turn Suzy the right way and into the arms of Doc. I enjoyed the book as stated when leaving Paris as Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and it did not disapoint. There are also numerous other characters from the previous story that find there way into this one. The ending is great but I won't spoil it. PS - while in Paris I was VERY much inspired to read Hemingway and Hugo so B&N get ready. DNC
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone has internal conflicts that can be brought out and mended with the help of friends, family, and those around them; in John Steinbeck¿s ¿Sweet Thursday¿ Doc¿s conflict is his loneliness, and various characters in the book try to help him in their own ways. The story takes place in Monterey, California, a small community where everyone knows everyone else. Doc is the local scientist who runs Western Biological Laboratory. He keeps himself busy to hide from his loneliness. Everyone in town knows Doc is not himself, and they all try to help in one way or another. Hazel, a bum who is known for his lack of thought, begins to contemplate ways to help Doc. The owner of the local gentlemen¿s club, Fauna, tries to fix Doc up with Suzy, a new girl in town. Suzy is a self-sufficient fireball. She does not let anyone help her, even if they are just doing it in good will. The plan to get Doc hooked up goes awry when Mack, another bum, and his friends throw a party for Doc. Through a misunderstanding, Fauna arranges the party as a wedding, and as a result, Suzy pulls herself away from the community, including Doc. Everyone who is involved in helping Doc goes through a change of their own, whether it be accepting who they are, or realizing their true lot in life.

Steinbeck uses conflict to tell this story, most of it being internal conflict. The best character representations of internal conflict are Doc, Suzy, and Hazel. At one point in the book, Doc is trying to write a paper on octopus, but he cannot because he is distracted by his thoughts. ¿ `Write!¿ said his top voice, and `Search!¿ sang his middle voice, and his lowest voice sighed, `Lonesome! Lonesome!¿(58-59) ¿ The voices hound at him throughout the book. Deep down he knows that he needs someone to share his life with. Suzy¿s internal struggle is with her self-sufficiency. She is so independent, that she takes offense when someone tries to help her or tell her what she should do. It is hard for her to become close with anyone, so in a sense, she is also lonely. Hazel¿s internal conflict is quite amusing. He is told that he is destined to become president, so he tries to change, tries to think and act like a leader. When he realizes that he is not suited for the job, he panics and begs Mack to get him out of the job that he in fact never had. Just as every person in life does, every character in the book has a conflict that they must deal with, and in doing so, they change for the better.

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STORE NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
Charming and funny... and a happy ending
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the sequel to ¿Cannery Row.¿ It speaks about Doc and Mac five years later. Between the two books, World War Two happened. Most of the story is about Doc and his love problems. His friends, Mack and the other people of the Row will try to make a love story between him and Suzy. John Steinbeck gives something new to his characters. This book is an entire story where we follow Doc, it¿s the biggest difference between ¿Cannery Row¿ and ¿Sweet Thursday¿. The characters seem more real and close to reader we really feel like we are people of the Row. The book is full of descriptions which really help readers to visualize characters and places. The writing is soft, the choice of the words is perfectly apt to each situation of the story, and it¿s pleasure to read. It¿s just like living a dream with the characters of Cannery Row.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have only read three book from stienbeck. Tortilla Flalt, Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. This is the best I have read, perfect for people that live in California, it really hits home.