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Paperback East of Eden Book

ISBN: 0142004235

ISBN13: 9780142004234

East of Eden

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America's most enduring authors, in a deluxe Centennial edition

In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden the first book, and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

My all-time favorite

I read this book the first time in 8th grade and have been reading it at least once a year ever since. The beginning is admittedly slow. But hang on, you’ll get hooked. Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.

East of Eden

I fell in love with Steinbeck’s works in HS after reading East of Eden. I decided then I would name my first son Aaron. He’s 35 now and just called to tell me he finally read East of Eden.

Incredible Novel

This book was so thoroughly enjoyed, I felt compelled to write my first book review so that I could give it 5 stars.

Classic Novel Illustrates Classic Struggle of Good Vs. Evil

John Steinbeck is at his best in this classic tale of sibling rivalry as he examines what we become vs. what we *may* become. The Biblical tale of Cain and Abel sets the tone as we are introduced to two sets of brothers. Each tries to win the love of his father in different ways. The story of why one brother succeeds while another feels unloved is beautifully told.Adam Trask, from the first set of brothers, repeats his own story with his sons, the twins Aron and Caleb. The enduring themes of light vs. dark, good vs. evil, hatred vs. love, and always the free will, the ability to choose one's own destiny are paramount to this rich and multi-layered tale.Above all, it is the characters you will long remember from this riveting saga. Cathy, the whore with a heart of stone, has to be one of the most evil characters in all literature. She kills her parents, beds her husband's brother on her wedding night, shoots her husband and desserts her infant sons. And, all this before she turns really bad! Truly a character to be analyzed for decades to come. On the other hand there are the wonderful characters of Samuel and Lee, men you will long remember for their wisdom, caring, and sheer goodness. And there is Adam, a zombie of a man until his great re-birth and spectacular failure finds him caught in a web of good and evil that he will long struggle with.John Steinbeck puts himself into the novel, as Samuel Hamilton is based on his own maternal grandfather. The entire Hamilton clan is one that represents the true "salt of the earth" and elevates this to "great American novel" stature.The story is complex and involving, the characters unforgettable. Kudos to Oprah for reviving interest in this wonderful story.

Evil is temporal; Virtue is immortal.

Steinbeck proposed four potential titles before he settled upon East of Eden. I looked up the phrase in the Bible and found that it appears twice in Genesis (3:24 and 4:16); both accounts denoting an instance where man experienced a separation from the blessings that God had intended for him. I think this is very significant as we consider what Steinbeck was writing about in his allegorical novel. He says in Chapter 34, "We have only one story. All novels, all poetry are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal."The contest is in ourselves! Surely this is what East Of Eden teaches us while we enjoy the sweeping story, so well told. It is deadly realistic, as beautiful and revolting as is the actual human potentiality for good and evil. With brilliance, Steinbeck contrasts a sea of temperaments in these characters, and shows us all the while that life is much more than the choices we make, but it is never any less. Adam Trask is the representative of good intentions, of a conscience which responds to the good as the eye responds to the light. Samuel Hamilton also represents a similar (perhaps even more well-honed) goodness. But Adam is the one who has been deceived, by a force every bit as essentially evil as Eden's serpent in the tree. This is Cathy, a character so reprobate that evil isn't something she does, it's something she IS that INFECTS everything she does! After abandoning her twin boys Caleb and Aron to the care of their father (Adam) she returns to her life of debauchery. The boys grow up unaware that their mother is a serial murderer and owner of a whorehouse. Because Adam never fully recovers from his shame, his loss and disillusionment, he is not able to convey the appropriate unconditional (equally distributed) love to his sons. This leads to jealousy and rivalry in his boys, and is a generational replica of his own childhood.How can one summarize such a vast epic story? But for me, one of the most powerful scenes and a turning point (perhaps the denouement?) is when Caleb finally sees his mother in all her non-glory, and says to her... "I don't have to be you." The reader can notice that really no-one is the same from this point on, there is a real unravelling here. For Cathy (now "Kate"), this marks the beginning of her own self-destruction, the awakening of her own conscience. She's been defied!One of the tendencies of the modern age is to deny radically the absolute nature of conscience, reducing it to a matter of temperament, or to a product of history or social environment. But East of Eden plows right through a tangle of sociological, psychological, and historical half-truths to the elementray fact: CONSCIENCE EXISTS.

East of Eden Mentions in Our Blog

East of Eden in The Perfect Bookish Quotes for Gift Tags or Holiday Cards
The Perfect Bookish Quotes for Gift Tags or Holiday Cards
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 20, 2022
Are you fretting over what to write on gift tags or in your holiday greeting cards? Here's the perfect solution! We've curated a collection of wise, witty, and "aww"-inspiring literary quotes for all the special people in your life.
East of Eden in An Especially Bookish Oscars
An Especially Bookish Oscars
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 24, 2022

Watching the Oscars this weekend? If so, you’ll want to catch up on the literature that served as inspiration for some of the nominated movies. Plus, we share some of our favorite book-to-screen best picture winners from the last quarter century.

East of Eden in Summer Reading List: Classics Edition
Summer Reading List: Classics Edition
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 16, 2021

Are you ready for a reading challenge this summer? We’ve rounded up a list of exceptional classics for you to consider. You could call them the original beach books!

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