Sweet Thursday - Suggestions for Further Reading

Astro, Richard. "Steinbeck's Bittersweet Thursday." The Short Novels of John Steinbeck: Critical Essays with a Checklist to Steinbeck Criticism. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1990. 204-15. Rpt. from Steinbeck Quarterly 4.2 (1971): 36-48. Condemned by most critics, Sweet Thursday is on the surface a sentimental novel. But underneath the jocularity and the characters' sentimentality, it is the "climactic and bitter lament of the death of an era that Steinbeck revered and loved."

DeMott, Robert J. "Steinbeck's Typewriter: An Excursion in Suggestiveness." Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art. Troy, NY: Whitston, 1996. 286-317. DeMott discusses the critical reception of Sweet Thursday and evaluates the novel as sentimental and slapstick. He finds it important, however, "for what it reveals of Steinbeck's aesthetic and philosophical sea-changes, and for his attitude toward the necessity of fictive experimentation in the unsettling wake of postwar depletion" affecting the many levels of Cannery Row's existence. DeMott concludes with an anecdote telling of his visit with Thom Steinbeck, who made a gift of his father's portable typewriter for the Steinbeck Research Center.

Ditsky, John M. "'Hooptedoodle'." Steinbeck Newsletter 12.1 (Spring 1999): 8. Ditsky suggests the origin for the word "Hooptedoodle" Steinbeck used in Sweet Thursday may lie in Perry Como's hit song from 1950, "Hoop-Tee-Doo."

Owens, Louis D. "Critics and Common Denominators: Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday." The Short Novels of John Steinbeck: Critical Essays with a Checklist to Steinbeck Criticism. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1990. 195-203. In this comedy, Steinbeck virtually casts off all the characters, symbols, and themes that dominated his fiction to that point. He seems bent on giving the critics what they want: "a one-dimensional novel aimed at the lowest common denominator," certain they "would miss the self-parody, the profound cutting away from the past, and the analysis of the artist's role."

Simmonds, Roy S. "A World to Be Cherished: Steinbeck as Conservationist and Ecological Prophet." Steinbeck and the Environment: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1997. 323-34. Steinbeck first spells out the root causes of environmental disaster in The Grapes of Wrath, followed by his powerfully expressed concern over "the rape of the environment" in Sea of Cortez. In Steinbeck's later, underappreciated Sweet Thursday, he opens with reflection on the mindlessness of the excessive ocean harvesting and "a warning of additional ecological disasters on the horizon."


Brief overview of plot and characters in Sweet Thursday that includes maps of the Monterey region and Cannery Row.

Author Elmore Leonard's remarks on Sweet Thursday's influence on his own work.

Official website of Cannery Row in Monterey California.

A complete history of Cannery Row that reviews the rise and fall of the Monterey fishing industry.

Self-guided online tour of Pacific Grove, California with information on Steinbeck and Cannery Row. 

Sample photos and music from Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Pipe Dream.

Sweet Thursday is rife with slang idioms from the time period. The Historical Dictionary of American Slang is available at the above link. This resource is both entertaining and educational and can clarify some of the speech in the text.