The Winter of Our Discontent

The Winter of Our Discontent

by John Steinbeck

Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbecks last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned.

Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards.Set in Steinbecks contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty that today ranks it alongside his most acclaimed works of penetrating insight into the American condition.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Classics
  • Rating: 3.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publish Date: August 26th 2008 by Penguin Classics
  • Isbn10: 0143039482
  • Isbn13: 9780143039488

What People Think about "The Winter of Our Discontent"

but I know that he is deeply brilliant, and I would say something ridiculous that I would turn over and over in my head (mentally, to myself) for years. I had forgotten that I owe my discovery of Steinbeck to my friend Erica, who read East of Eden in 8th grade, when I was still churning through Nancy Drew, Mary Higgins Clark and V.C. Andrews. I wasn't ready to tackle East of Eden yet, but I picked up a copy of Of Mice & Men/Cannery Row ...

Steinbecks The Winter of Our Discontent was first published in 1961 and was his last novel. Although the committee believed Steinbeck's best work was behind him by 1962, committee member Anders Österling believed the release of his novel The Winter of Our Discontent in 1961 showed that "after some signs of slowing down in recent years, Steinbeck has regained his position as a social truth-teller and is an authentic realist fully equal to his predecessors Sinclair Lewis and Ernest Hemingway." Wikipedia. Steinbeck tells the tale of Ethan Allen Hawley, a tragic and lost son of old New England wealth, his connections to the Pilgrim / Pirate heroes of his old family all but lost after the money is gone, but the old house and the family name remain. Also, and this likeness is more obscure Peter Benchleys Jaws is the literary descendant of Steinbecks east coast morality play.

Rating: 6* of five The Publisher Says: Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbecks last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. Set in Steinbecks contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty that today ranks it alongside his most acclaimed works of penetrating insight into the American condition. My Review: This is a wonderful short novel by a master of his craft at the peak of his form. The POV is of Ethan, a man who is the degenerate scion of a venerable family. The nerve of the man, a son of the founder of his town, working for someone who *should* be his gardener, according to his friends and his kids.

Being normal men, they surely did not consider it immoral. All men are moral. And, to quote Mark 8:36, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" There is a reason John Steinbeck is considered one of the great American authors.

Hard luck stories about average American families fill newspapers, while in fiction, it seems like world building, not world reporting, are what get traffic. Rather than the Salinas Valley, the story takes place in the fictional hamlet of New Baytown, in northern Maine. Well-liked in spite of the acidic wit he dispenses around his wife Mary and adolescent children Ellen and Allen, Ethan's fortunes begin to change when his wife's friend, a gold digging floozy with a flair for fortune telling named Margie Young-Hunt, forecasts that Ethan is destined to become one of the most important men in town. Ethan learns of big changes coming to New Baytown and by virtue of his family name, seems poised to benefit. Margie Young-Hunt is a terrific character, a sexually liberated sorceress of a sort who doesn't feel sorry for herself either, and like Ethan, can't seem to resist making waves in the pond.

Se non avessi saputo quanto John Steinbeck amasse Sinclair Lewis, forse non avrei colto sin dall'inizio le analogie con Babbitt, e non avrei riconosciuto in Ethan Hawley, il modesto commesso di New Baytown, l'evoluzione di George Babbitt, il mediocre agente immobiliare di Lewis. Se non avessi letto precedentemente Al Dio sconosciuto, I pascoli del cielo e La Valle dell'Eden, non avrei saputo riconoscere, ancora una volta, lasciati come sassolini nel bosco, tutti quei riferimenti biblici che caratterizzano e permeano l'intera opera di Steinbeck, quell'eterno conflitto tra il bene e quel male che si affrontano senza risparmiare colpi, che si sfidano incessantemente, che convivono in ciascuno di noi. Se io stessa non mi fossi trovata, non mi trovassi a volte, in un'età in cui basta un nulla per affondare nell'inverno del proprio scontento, in cui decidere di abbandonare tutti i propri principi in virtù di una vita più semplice, di un successo conquistato con l'inganno e la mistificazione, se non sapessi che troppo spesso la realtà delle cose, la società che ci circonda ci promette La perla capace di mutare il corso della nostra esistenza, ci istiga a tradire noi stessi in cambio di un posto in prima fila, se non sapessi che alla fine dei conti l'uomo di Steinbeck chiederà sempre, prima che la luna sia tramontata rassicurazione sul fatto che il suo debito sarà pagato, e che gli sarebbe impossibile sfuggire da sé e dal proprio giudizio di sé, se non sapessi tutto questo, se non avessi saputo tutto questo, avrei fatto fino alla fine il tifo per Ethan Hawley, modesto commesso nel negozio che fu della sua agiata famiglia, e per il suo rivoluzionario sogno americano, quello che proprio in quegli anni, da Revolutionary Road, Connecticut, a New Baytown, New England, lasciava credere a tutti di meritare di più di quello che possedevano, di essere destinati a qualcosa di grande, di poter allungare la mano fino a toccare le stelle. Quello che è stato capace di trasportare e trasformare le rivalse sociali dei contadini, degli umili e dei diseredati, in quelle della media borghesia, psicologicamente vittima dello stesso scontento, che non nasce però dall'assenza del pane, ma dal confronto, dal desiderare ciò che possiedono gli altri; quello ironico e tagliente, unico nel creare un personaggio del quale riusciamo a cogliere attimo per attimo, proprio davanti ai nostri occhi, un mutamento straordinario, Mi par di credere che un uomo cambia di continuo. Lo Steinbeck che non mi aspettavo (ma non è neanche del tutto vero perché già ne La Valle dell'Eden ma questa è un'altra storia!), è quello capace di creare una tensione fortissima, un ritmo che accelera i battiti cardiaci, che fa trattenere il fiato e divorare gli ultimi capitoli rabbrividendo ad ogni parola, nella speranza che ma quanto rumore fa un uomo che pensa? (*E a proposito di stelle, non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare a Leo Burnett, un uomo di quegli anni, sconosciuto ai più, ma che sulla porta di quella che sarebbe diventata una delle più grandi agenzie di pubblicità del mondo, aveva un logo raffigurante una mano che tendeva alle stelle, autore di uno dei testamenti più belli che abbia mai letto.

The prose was as fine as I expected it to be, but it seemed such a small story, compared to powerful epics like The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. Mostly in the form of a first person narrative, the novel is about Ethan Hawley, a likeable man in his late thirties, married to a woman he loves and the father of two teenagers. Anyone reading this novel who expects another Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden is bound to be disappointed.

Anyway, the most prominent and adamant question I find myself wrestle with these days is 'Morality'. He has power packed the prose with many of the life's learnings as he usually does, but this time the reader is at the edge of his seat questioning and nodding at every move Ethan makes, stretching the flimsy cloth of morality at the turn of every chapter, finding redemption, anguish, empathy, and a cacophony of emotions at the end(which was Dostoevskysk in many ways).

He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories. Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.