HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The winter of our discontent by John…
Loading...

The winter of our discontent (original 1961; edition 1961)

by John Steinbeck

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,292611,658 (3.92)1 / 217
Member:Jan7Smith
Title:The winter of our discontent
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:New York : The Viking Press, 1961.
Collections:Your library, Favorites, Read
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck (Author) (1961)

Recently added bytcards, rambletamble, proustitute, private library, lilianboerboom, Fumesalive, redmandjd50
Legacy LibrariesHannah Arendt, Carl Sandburg

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Three years after reading this book I am getting ready to sell it and find that I can recall virtually nothing about it.
  ritaer | Jun 28, 2014 |
I was disappointed with this book. It was a much more focused character study than other Steinbeck novels I've read, and unfortunately for me I wasn't particularly drawn to the main character of Ethan Allen Hawley. Everyone else around him seemed merely to be propped up to help tell his story. Perhaps at the time it was published the book incisively reflected a change in society's morals and attitudes. However, Ethan's disaffected manner is commonplace today and, as such, did not appeal to me as a facet of human nature I wanted to explore in a novel published almost 50 years ago. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
What is a talisman? A traditional understanding of the word, derived from the Greek via the Arabic tilasm, refers to a religious rite, its completion, and the symbol such as an amulet of that rite. The power in a talisman is implicit in its association with religion and this seems to be the sense in which it is used in The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck's last completed novel published in 1961.

Perhaps I should have chosen as an epigraph the lines from Shakespeare's play, Richard III, "Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious by this Sun of York.", but Steinbeck's novel, while including these lines in both parts one and two, is much more complex than suggested by this allusion with many layers of meaning, allusions, and references both literary and religious. With a contemporary setting it is nonetheless steeped in the tradition of family and country. The protagonist, Ethan Allen Hawley, traces his own family tradition in America almost two centuries although the wealth of the Hawley's and their concomitant social standing has deteriorated over the years so much that, when the story opens, Ethan is a clerk in a small town grocery store. The store is owned by an Italian-American, Mr. Marullo, who was born in Italy. "It's the first time in history a Hawley was ever a clerk in a guinea grocery."(p 14)

Ethan's personal ethics lead him into a conflict with Marullo early in the story that generates an interchange that underlines the difference in their perspectives on family tradition: Ethan says, "Hawley's have been living here since the middle seveteen hundreds. You're a foreigner. You wouldn't know about that. We've been getting along with our neighbors and being decent all that time. If you think you can barge in from Sicily and change that. you're wrong." Marullo responds, putting Ethan in his place with these words, "You think Marullo is a guinea name, wop name, dago name. My genitori, my name, is maybe two, three thousand years old. Marullus is from Rome, Valerius Maximus tells about it. What's two hundred years?"(p 21)
For Ethan, upon reflection, this perspective "was the shocking perspective that makes a man wonder: If I've missed this, what else have I failed to see?"(p 22) That is the question, for Ethan is a man who fails to see a lot of things in this story of several months, momentous in some ways, in his life.

Ominously the story begins on Good Friday with all the symbolism entailed in the ceremony of Easter weekend. This begins a moral journey for Ethan, complete with literary allusions both to Dante's hell and to Morte d'Arthur. He faces dilemmas on the business front from suppliers and from his own belief that he must restore the social standing of the Hawley name. But on an even deeper, more personal note he faces another biblical question: Am I my brother's keeper? For his closest friend from and early age, Danny Taylor, needs his help even though Ethan "knows" that his help is unlikely to make any real difference in the direction of Danny's life. Danny's dilemma is presented with a slight allusion to Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Imp of the Perverse". The issue is raised by Poe and alluded to with the phrase, "you've raised my imp."(p 119)
Simply put: Why does a man who knows what is the right thing to do go ahead and do the wrong thing? Philosophers since Socrates have pondered this dilemma and while our increased understanding of our unconscious desires and the importance of the will may suggest some answers this is still a difficult issue; one that would bedevil Danny Taylor and perhaps Ethan as well.

These dilemmas blended with the vicissitudes of family life with his wife Mary and two children yield a richly woven and deeply thoughtful novel. It is one that raises questions, presents challenges and provides a believable story that enjoins the reader to question his own beliefs. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jan 26, 2014 |
Ethan is a character who defies easy description. He's sarcastic but also genuine and watching him carry out his plans is alternately repulsive and attractive at the same time. The number of references he makes is staggering but fun at the same time. I was surprised and also not surprised by the ending. Overall this seems a bleak statement on the state of humankind. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Jan 4, 2014 |
I enjoyed reading it. I'm not sure that I would say it was my favorite Steinbeck - but it was worth digging into - and would bear rereading after some more thought. The idea is that a "good" man is living his life as best he can while not giving in to the temptations that all men are prone to and most give in to, harming no one - it seems - except their honor. Presented with a strong grouping of these all at once - he gives in to what he thinks gives him the biggest gain for the smallest part of his honor. Realizing that the slope is slippery - he feels that he cannot live with the ill-gotten gains of his dishonor. It comes from a period where Steinbeck was influenced by the Arthurian tales and there are echoes of Percival and Lancelot in how men react to the everyday slips of life and try to retain their honor. It is less uplifting than other Steinbeck - hence only 3 stars. I'd give it 3.5 if I could as it is really good - but such a downer that I couldn't quite get to 4 stars. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, JohnAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herman, Rein F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shillinglaw, SusanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SILVEIRA, BRENNOTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Readers seeking to identify the fictional people and places here described would do better to inspect their own communities and search their own hearts, for this book is about a large part of America today.
Dedication
To Beth, my sister, whose light burns clear
First words
When the fair gold morning of April stirred Mary Hawley awake, she turned over to her husband and saw him, little fingers pulling a frog mouth at her.
Quotations
You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Ethan Hawley is a war veteran, grocery store clerk, husband, and father, with much to say about Americans, consumerism, and the characters of his small seaside town. Themes of inadequacy, guilt, and deception are prominent as Ethan attempts to fulfill the expectations of his ancestors as well as his wife and children. "No one wants advice, only corroboration."
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039482, Paperback)

From a swashbuckling pirate fantasy to a meditation on American morality?two classic Steinbeck novels make their black spine debuts

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 the novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With the decline in their status, 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

From the Publisher: From a swashbuckling pirate fantasy to a meditation on American morality-two classic Steinbeck novels make their black spine debuts. 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 the novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With the decline in their status, 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
84 wanted
6 pay1 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.92)
0.5
1 4
1.5 2
2 28
2.5 6
3 139
3.5 28
4 224
4.5 35
5 168

Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

The Library of America

An edition of this book was published by The Library of America.

» Publisher information page

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,477,401 books! | Top bar: Always visible