The Winter of Our Discontent

The Winter of Our Discontent

by John Steinbeck
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Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

The final novel of one of America’s most beloved writers—a tale of degeneration, corruption, and spiritual crisis
 
In awarding John Steinbeck the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel committee stated that with The Winter of Our Discontent, he had “resumed his position as an independent expounder of the truth, with an unbiased instinct for what is genuinely American.” Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards. Set in Steinbeck’s contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty, and today ranks alongside his most acclaimed works of penetrating insight into the American condition. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction and notes by leading Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140187533
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1996
Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile: 770L (what's this?)

About 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. 

Susan Shillinglaw is a professor of English San Jose State University. She is the author of On Reading the Grapes of Wrathand Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage.

Date of Birth:

February 27, 1902

Date of Death:

December 20, 1968

Place of Birth:

Salinas, California

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925

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The Winter of Our Discontent 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ethan Allen Hawley... Sometimes a character comes along that rings out in your head. He's so identifiable that you almost assume the character was modelled after your own soul. Never mind the fact that the character was created 10 years before you were born, he's you... or maybe you're him. These characters are so real that you forget that the author is the one narrating the story. The author is transparent. The narrator is your own heart, a characterization of yourself. His narration is raw and truthful. The prose may be nearly 50 years old, but it paints a portrait of American life that transcends all the days from this to that. That's Steinbeck's prose. Steinbeck's prose, but Ethan Hawley's words. Ethan is the lead character in Steinbeck's, 'The Winter of Our Discontent.' Ethan is Steinbeck's creation, Ethan is my character. I listen to his thoughts, to the ideas in his head and I recognize them as the thoughts I so often find myself working through. His struggles, his emotions and, indeed, his proposed solutions are a facsimile of the very ones I carry with me. Every man must consider his fate. In your heart, you find your answers, however right or wrong. Ethan found my answers... not that I'm gonna start robbing banks or anything. But, sitting in the Place, out of the wind, seeing under the guardian lights, I find the answers that Ethan found so long before I knew I was looking. 'No nonsense of Madison Avenue then or trimming too many leaves from cauliflowers.' Here, a man can breathe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend recommended this book, said it was one of his favorites, and I can see why. The questions this book raises, about what we will or will not do to better ourselves, and at what cost to others will long be remembered. The ending was not at all what I expected that it would be, and it's moral implications are relevent still today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is on my list of all time favorites. It moved a long, was very descriptive, and is a book that can be re-read to pick up some of the more subtle things that were missed. It was a deeply moving book, and makes us reflect upon our own lives, and what we will do for love, money and for those who share in our lives. A true classic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A powerful novel, with a plot that most can relate to. Ethan Hawley, the main character struggles to provide for his family. Comes from a family of successful business men, until The Great Depression hits his family hard and he must start from the bottom, working as a produce market clerk. He feels that he must own up to his name that has been made by his predecessors. He is confronted by opportunities that question his integrity and common sense. What I like about this novel is that present day situations arise which grabs my attention and makes me think. Ethan, married with two children, thinks of his family first, because all he wants is to give them what he feels they deserve. He would sacrifice his own happiness to make his family happy. I also can relate to how he sometimes feels disappointed by how his life is panning out, but doesn¿t forget all the things he should be grateful for. I strongly recommend this novel to all who love to read. Whether you can relate to it or not, it will make you think, and help you appreciate some things that are taken for granted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Steinbeck's novel is truly a great contribtution to American Literature. A must read! The themes and discussions of the novel are remarkable, offering truth and an accuarate depiction of life.
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Elizabeth_Anderson More than 1 year ago
Ugh. Does anyone else out there think this book might have been Steinbeck at his all time low? It is a book for the sake of writing a book. The struggles are not grounded in any movement particularly, and it is basically all about one family. Other characters become connected through the main character’s humble job, but this book is nothing to write home about. A product I would recommend is Sirens of Morning Light by Benjamin Anderson, a quest for a man in Iowa to regain his identity, which becomes entangled with people who claim to have known him when he discovers he is a scientific experiment. It does not disappoint with a plot that goes nowhere. Much occurs by the end of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sample is all the publizhing info, dedication, etc. It never even gets to first page of the novel itself.
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck was the story of Ethan Hawley, and his life in New Baytown as a grocery store clerk. He feels as though he does not live up to the high standard of the name, "Hawley." There is a young temptress, Margie, who tries to steal Ethan away from his gentle wife, Mary. His children, Allen and Ellen, both enter a contest to try and win a trip to Washington D.C. Through a matter of different events, over the span of about three or four months, Allen ends up getting an honorable mention in the essay. After reading part of his essay, Ethan sees that none of the words are of his son's own creation. Allen tells his father that it is because all men cheat and lie,why would this matter? After the guilt that Ethan feels over the span of the novel, he is ready to end it all, but can his daughter change his mind? This novel conveys the same common theme as in any Steinbeck novel, which is the hopelessness of a man's dreams. Overall, this book was well-written and very interesting, but just a little bit confusing from time to time. If a person were to read a Steinbeck book, I would definitely recommend this, or Of Mice and Men, both are very excellent novels,with very similar themes.
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Brownie808 More than 1 year ago
I had read this book in high school, but didn't really get into Steinbeck until a few years later. Going back and rereading this was enlightening. although the book takes place 50 years ago, many of the moral struggles and themes are just as present, if not more so, in our society today. I love Steinbeck's writing generally, casual in tone but still very rich.
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The Winter of Our Discontent is one of my favorites from Steinbeck. Like all of his many other novels, it displays a great message, and describes the time period and emotion/feelings shared during the era. The book takes place in New Baytown (fictitous name) New York, during the 1950's, a time period of well, discontent. During a lessening of values and standards. He paints a bleek portrait of the world and how the main character Ethan, and many others are in a constant stuggle of the corruption of New Baytown. Ethan struggles to provide for his family, and his wife whom is tired of their social standing, a son Allen and a daughter Ellen, both of whom are displayed as lacking morals throughout the book. The title of this novel displays the book very accuratly and blantly. The Winter of Our Discontent, a time of sadness and unhappiness with life and in Ethans case, striving to better himself and help his family. At one point in the book, Ethan is presented with an opportunity, that has practacly landed in his lap, when his old friend Danny Taylor (the town drunk) dies and leaves Ethan everything he had, including his home, which is sitting on land in which a buisness man intends to build an airport. This gives Ethan the opportunity to bargain and he become a major figure in the towns eyes. On the other hand Ethan does not want to lose himself in the corruption of New Baytown and the other buisness men in it. Throughout the novel Ethan wanders the steets of New Baytown at night contemplating his life, and the opportunities or lack there of that are presented to him. Like many of Steinbecks other books, we are left with no clear ending really. We are left with Ethans future in doubt. Steinbecks way of writing once again appears clear in this novel, with impeccable description, the literally ties you in with the novel and make you understand and FEEL the characters emotions and just the plain feeling of the era and entire book. Steinbeck has once again produced an excellent novel that reflexes and questions entitlement, values/morals, and above all how far one man is willing to go.
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