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Cannery Row (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)


Cannery Row (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Cover

ISBN13: 9780140187373
ISBN10: 0140187375
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is: both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. Drawing on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, including longtime friend Ed Ricketts, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Dora, Mack and his boys, Lee Chong, and the other characters in this world where only the fittest survive, to create a novel that is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In her introduction, Susan Shillinglaw shows how the novel expresses, both in style and theme, much that is essentially Steinbeck: “scientific detachment, empathy toward the lonely and depressed… and, at the darkest level… the terror of isolation and nothingness.”


Drawing characters based on his memories of real inhabitants of Monterey, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Henri, Mack, and his boys, in a world where only the fittest survive, in a novel that focuses on the acceptance of life as it is — a story at once humorous and poignant.


Includes bibliographical references (p. [xxix]-xxx).

About the Author

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was born in Salinas, California. He worked as a laborer and a journalist, and in 1935, when he published Tortilla Flat, he achieved popular success and financial security. Steinbeck wrote more than twenty-five novels and won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Nearly all of his books are available in Penguin Classics.

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Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

Beth pdx, October 22, 2014 (view all comments by Beth pdx)
This book is truly a classic: sad and humorous, touching and atmospheric. Steinbeck really evokes the landscape and environment of Monterey, the ocean, the beach, tide pool animals, and the run-down parts of town. He describes humans as inseparable from nature, and he has great compassion for his characters, including prostitutes, homeless men, and mentally challenged adults. After reading the book I watched the movie and enjoyed that also, although the book combines episodes from both Cannery Row and its sequel, Sweet Thursday.
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Michelle Boxall, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Michelle Boxall)
I've always enjoyed this book.
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September Song, September 4, 2011 (view all comments by September Song)
Although John Steinbeck wrote many great works of American literature Cannery Row is my favorite by far.
This short tale of the inhabitants of a stretch of industrial property on the coast of California is a rich little comic gem that Steinbeck lifts briefly into the Summer sun so that we might glimpse a society different from, but not entirely unlike, our own.

Though it's not socially revolutionary like The Grapes of Wrath, nor the genesis of a Hollywood blockbuster like East of Eden, it is told with such precision and with such affection and respect for its ragtag cast of characters that the reader feels privileged to have met them.
Mack and the boys are not bums and drunkards but "gentlemen and philosophers united by a common dislike of a steady job and a mutual feeling for the pleasures of living according to their lights" and Doc, the main character, is "half-Christ and and half-satyr" as he collects his marine and terrestrial fauna for sale to scientific laboratories while unofficially ministering to the sick puppies, lost children and unhappy souls on the Row.

You must be somewhat slipshod in your own morals to like this book, it's not for the ramrod stiff among us. As Lewis Gannet wrote: "It does not rank cleanliness next to godliness, and its everyday vocabulary takes four-letter words in its Elizabethan stride". And there are whores, but you must be able to see them as sisters and daughters with dreams of their own, and better places to be in time.

And so I invite you, after the busy canneries shut their doors in the late afternoon. Come out with the boys to sit on the rusty pipes in the vacant lot, watch as the girl's emerge from Dora's "for a bit of sun if there is any", cross the street to Lee Chong's for a couple of quarts of beer and take them over to Western Biological to see if Doc is in.
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Product Details

Steinbeck, John
Penguin Books
Shillinglaw, Susan
Farden, Jerry
Shillinglaw, Susan
New York, N.Y., U.S.A. :
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
Love stories
Community life
Marine biologists
Cannery Row (Monterey, Calif.) Fiction.
Cannery Row
Monterey (Calif.) Fiction.
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
Series Volume:
[no. 27]
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
7.70x5.22x.63 in. .40 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Cannery Row (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Penguin Classics - English 9780140187373 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Drawing characters based on his memories of real inhabitants of Monterey, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Henri, Mack, and his boys, in a world where only the fittest survive, in a novel that focuses on the acceptance of life as it is — a story at once humorous and poignant.
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