The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
(Penguin Classics)

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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 sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 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.


About John Steinbeck

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No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and the plight of the common man, penning some of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century and winning such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He received the Nobel Prize in 1962, "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
Published January 1, 1970 by PAN BOOKS. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A major novel — the first since East of Eden — this brings into focus a conflict within a man's personality which will have wide, perhaps too wide, recognition value.

Oct 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Winter of Our Discontent ...

Suite 101

As Ethan falls from grace in a tragic tailspin owing directly to the poisoning of his good heart through the selfish demands of others – that he conform and take his rightful place – the audience must surely empathize with one of Steinbeck's most common and most sympathetic characters.

Jun 06 2010 | Read Full Review of The Winter of Our Discontent ...


In this latest attempt, based on Steinbeck's 1961 novel, Donald Sutherland and Teri Garr successfully convey the emotional rage, frustration of failure and loss of dignity that have beset a once prosperous New England family.

Dec 05 1983 | Read Full Review of The Winter of Our Discontent ...

The Atlantic

these phases of his career are touched so lightly as to be superficial, but what is genuine, familiar, and identifiable is the way Americans beat the game: the land-taking before the airport is built, the quick bucks, the plagiarism, the abuse of trust, the near theft, which, if it succeeds, can ...

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Project MUSE

Because of Steinbeck's growing recognition of the relativism of his era and his country, the protagonist of The Winter of Our Discontent, Ethan Allen Hawley, representing his generation of Americans, begins to understand that it is not so much a specific myth that serves the moral and ethical ne...

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