Cover image for Sweet Thursday
Sweet Thursday
Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Books, 1996. c1954.
Physical Description:
260 pages ; 20 cm.
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published: New York : Viking Press, 1954.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.5 11.0 58705.
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Returning to the scene of Cannery Row-the weedy lot and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, California-Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears, from Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.

Author Notes

In recent years Steinbeck has been elevated to a more prominent status among American writers of his generation. If not quite at the world-class artistic level of a Hemingway or a Faulkner, he is nonetheless read very widely throughout the world by readers of all ages who consider him one of the most "American" of writers.

Born in Salinas County, California on February 27, 1902, Steinbeck was of German-Irish parentage. After four years as a special student at Stanford University, he went to New York, where he worked as a reporter and as a hod carrier. Returning to California, he devoted himself to writing, with little success; his first three books sold fewer than 3,000 copies. Tortilla Flat (1935), dealing with the paisanos, California Mexicans whose ancestors settled in the country 200 years ago, established his reputation. In Dubious Battle (1936), a labor novel of a strike and strike-breaking, won the gold medal of the Commonwealth Club of California. Of Mice and Men (1937), a long short story that turns upon a melodramatic incident in the tragic friendship of two farm hands, written almost entirely in dialogue, was an experiment and was dramatized in the year of its publication, winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It brought him fame.

Out of a series of articles that he wrote about the transient labor camps in California came the inspiration for his greatest book, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the odyssey of the Joad family, dispossessed of their farm in the Dust Bowl and seeking a new home, only to be driven on from camp to camp. The fiction is punctuated at intervals by the author's voice explaining this new sociological problem of homelessness, unemployment, and displacement. As the American novel "of the season, probably the year, possibly the decade," it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. It roused America and won a broad readership by the unusual simplicity and tenderness with which Steinbeck treated social questions. Even today, The Grapes of Wrath remains alive as a vivid account of believable human characters seen in symbolic and universal terms as well as in geographically and historically specific ones. Ma Joad is one of the most memorable characters in twentieth-century American fiction. It is her courage that sustains the family. Steinbeck's best and most ambitious novel after The Grapes of Wrath is East of Eden (1952), a saga of two American families in California from before the Civil War through World War I. Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1947), and Sweet Thursday (1955) are lighter works that find Steinbeck returning to the lighthearted tone of Tortilla Flat as he recounts picaresque adventures of modern-day picaros. The Winter of Our Discontent (1961) struck some reviewers as being appropriately titled because of its despairing treatment of humanity's fall from grace in a wasteland world where money is king.

Steinbeck also wrote important nonfiction, including Russian Journal (1948) in collaboration with the photographer Robert Capa; Once There Was a War (1958) and America and Americans (1966), which features pictures by 55 leading photographers and a 70-page essay by Steinbeck. His interest in marine biology led to two books primarily about sea life, Sea of Cortez (1941) (with Edward F. Ricketts) and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951). Travels with Charley (1952) is an engaging account of his journey of rediscovery of America, which took him through approximately 40 states.

Steinbeck was married three times and died in New York City on December 20, 1968 of heart disease and congestive heart failure. He was 66, and had been a life-long smoker. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Robert Demott
Introductionp. ix
Suggestions for Further Readingp. xxvii
Prologuep. xxxv
1 What Happened In Betweenp. 1
2 The Troubled Life of Joseph and Maryp. 8
3 Hooptedoodle (1)p. 14
4 There Would Be No Gamep. 24
5 Enter Suzyp. 26
6 The Creative Crossp. 33
7 Tinder Is as Tinder Doesp. 37
8 The Great Roque Warp. 44
9 Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nutsp. 47
10 There's a Hole in Reality through which We Can Look if We Wishp. 53
11 Hazel's Broodingp. 60
12 Flower in a Crannied Wallp. 66
13 Parallels Must Be Relatedp. 68
14 Lousy Wednesdayp. 70
15 The Playing Fields of Harrowp. 74
16 The Little Flowers of Saint Mackp. 80
17 Suzy Binds the Cheesep. 86
18 A Pause in the Day's Occupationp. 91
19 Sweet Thursday (1)p. 101
20 Sweet Thursday (2)p. 107
21 Sweet Thursday Was One Hell of a Dayp. 112
22 The Armingp. 117
23 One Night of Lovep. 123
24 Waiting Fridayp. 129
25 Old Jingleballicksp. 134
26 The Developing Stormp. 143
27 O Frabjous Day!p. 146
28 Where Alfred the Sacred River Ranp. 156
29 Oh, Woe, Woe, Woe!p. 165
30 A President Is Bornp. 174
31 The Thorny Path of Greatnessp. 179
32 Hazel's Questp. 181
33 The Distant Drump. 194
34 The Deep-Dish Set-Downp. 198
35 Il n'y a pas de mouches sur la grandmerep. 200
36 Lama Sabachthani?p. 209
37 Little Chapterp. 212
38 Hooptedoodle (2), or The Pacific Grove Butterfly Festivalp. 213
39 Sweet Thursday Revisitedp. 216
40 I'm Sure We Should All Be as Happy as Kingsp. 223
Notesp. 227