Hawking Up Hairballs

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Winter of Our Discontent

John Steinbeck is another writer who I've neglected. I read his Grapes of Wrath years ago, but that's it. While going through the blogs I frequently read, someone recommended The Winter of Our Discontent as germane to the current economic situation, so I went to the library and checked out a copy. I'm not that far into it, so I can't say a lot so far. The writing is somewhat sloppy. It doesn't look like Steinbeck did too many rewrites, if any at all. Also, the protagonist's wife is so far too good to be true. She seems to be the ideal of the good and faithful spouse. Not that she should be fooling around, but she's just too steadfast and doubt-free when it comes to being a wife. The novel was published in 1961, and that's the Saturday Evening Post's notion of what a woman should be in those days.

One thing's apparent right away, class is a salient factor in Steinbeck's world. In that sense it's more realistic than most of the fiction that purports to be true to everyday life these days. Steinbeck also seems to have nothing but contempt for religion. I like the following remark about Puritanism. The protagonist is reflecting upon his ancestors who he thinks may have been pirates, as well as whalers. "They successfully combined piracy and puritanism, which aren't so dislike when you come right down to it. Both had a strong dislike for opposition and both had a roving eye for other people's property." It isn't just the Puritans either. Other Christian sects are just as bad. Need I mention anything other than the Crusades?


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