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East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden (1952)

by John Steinbeck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,510325156 (4.39)1 / 826
  1. 160
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Booksloth)
  2. 60
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (John_Vaughan)
  3. 40
    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (5hrdrive)
    5hrdrive: epic western novel with similar voice
  4. 30
    Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (cometahalley, cometahalley)
  5. 20
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (cometahalley)
  6. 20
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (sushidog)
    sushidog: Epic family novels
  7. 20
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (cometahalley)
  8. 10
    Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey (weener)
    weener: An epic, fascinating family drama.
  9. 10
    The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz (paulkid)
    paulkid: These books are fathers-and-sons family epics that are set around the turn of the (20th) century. They both have philosophical and coming-of-age themes as well.
  10. 00
    A Journey into Steinbeck's California by Susan Shillinglaw (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Fascinating coffee table book, lavishly illustrated with photos and maps, well-written too. Sort of Steinbeck's "Californian" biography, though it also covers his living in New York and travels to Mexico. Plenty of interesting real-life background of "East of Eden" and many of his other works. Compelling insight into Steinbeck's personality.… (more)
  11. 00
    The Notebook / The Proof / The Third Lie by Agota Kristof (UrliMancati)
  12. 00
    Años Inolvidables by John Dos Passos (cometahalley)
  13. 02
    Abel Sanchez and Other Stories by Miguel de Unamuno (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: The story of Cain and Abel reimagined in a more modern setting
1950s (15)
To Read (91)

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English (310)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (322)
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"I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt—and there is the story of mankind."

Somewhere around the early eighties, I read pretty much everything Steinbeck had written and I taught The Pearl and Of Mice and Men to my high school freshmen, but I never got around to East of Eden. Recently when I read that Steinbeck considered it his magnum opus, I realized I had one more to read. I'm hear to say I am wiser and more thoughtful for the experience. Sam Hamilton lives on a barely farmable ranch where he philosophizes about life and enjoys hard work and the company of others. He is in fact John Steinbeck's maternal grandfather, whose daughter Olive gave birth to our author in nearby Salinas. Sam has a large family and most of his children move on to other adventures in this time right before and during the First World War.
The second narrative revolves around Adam Trask, whose father, Cyrus was a con man and military historian. He had two sons, Charles and later Adam who are very different.( Notice the same initials of Cain and Abel). The brothers inherit a good deal of money when their father passes but go their separate ways when Adam falls in love with a beaten girl named Cathy appears at their door. Adam takes her in and nurses her back to health as he falls in love, while Charles sees her for what she is, and let me tell you she is evil, without a soul.
"Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life. Some balance wheel was misweighted, some gear out of ratio. She was not like other people, never was from birth. And just as a cripple may learn to utilize his lack so that he becomes more effective in a limited field than the uncrippled, so did Cathy, using her difference, make a painful and bewildering stir in her world."
After she has regained her strength from the beating she received from her past pimp, Adam decides to marry her and take her away to California. The night before she reluctantly leaves, she sneaks into Charles' room and sleeps with him. They both recognize each other for their true nature. And so twin sons are born, Cal and Aron and again the Cain and Abel story takes on another telling. When Adam winds up in a ranch near Sam Hamilton, he hires Sam to dig a well and they become fast friends. Adam has a Chinese servant, named Lee, who helps around the house, cooks and raises the boys. Lee is a classic literary figure, wise and thoughtful and is central to the understanding of the famous biblical story that this novel retraces. There are many other smaller characters of interest, Sam's sons, Will who can't help but make money, and Tom, who struggles to remain on the unproductive farm. The second part of the novel centers more on Cal and Aron as they grow up and of course there is a girl, Abra, who they both love. She is kind and mature and sees all the good in Aron, but sometimes wonders whether she would be better suited for his brother.
Needless to say I loved reading this novel which only increased my long felt admiration for the author. Characters are used so that the moral philosophy of the man can be illuminated.
"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. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is."
That says it all. Highly recommend ( )
  novelcommentary | Mar 9, 2019 |
This has to be one of the best novels, I've ever read. True, it's a big commitment, but the sprawling storyline and the charcter devolpment give this story an unprecedented depth. ( )
  chwiggy | Jan 25, 2019 |
This is the story of two families - the Hamiltons and the Trasks. It takes place in and around California's Salinas Valley (which is actually where John Steinbeck was born) in the mid to late 1800's through the 1900s. This story spans multiple generations of these two families introducing many characters along the way. The Hamiltons were a large family of many children who lived and worked on a farm and barely got by. The Trasks were a more well off family with two sons that were raised by their father.

Over the course of the book - both families have children, they grow, get married, move away, start their own families. Their families continue to interact over the years - each weaving into the other among various avenues. There is sadness and happiness, marriage and death, and everything in between.

I enjoyed this book. It was.....long. I thought the writing was excellent. It might have been a little wordy - most in the story than needed to be to get his point across, but for the most part, it flowed nicely. The characters were likable and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen to them. Sagas make great books because from where it starts to where it ends, entire lives pass through and you become invested in their stories.

Check it out. You need to invest in this book - this is not a light read, or something you can do and watch TV at the same time. But it is worth it. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
It starts slow, but picks up a lot of speed. The writing is enjoyable, and the characters are fascinating. I felt guilty reading. Steinbeck toys with his characters, sticking them with needles and making them suffer, so that they can have profound conversations. It is like a science fiction novel, based on the premise that deep down every conversation has to be about the meaning of life. Natural dialog? Not at all. But satisfying. ( )
  breic | Dec 30, 2018 |
My favorite book ( )
  3njennn | Nov 25, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Artadi, Vicente deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Angelis, GiulioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggink, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linturi, JoukoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poe, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Pascal Covici

Dear Pat,

You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, "Why don't you make something for me?" I asked you what you wanted, and you said, "A box." "What for?" "To put things in." "What things?" "Whatever you have," you said. Well, here's your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts--the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.

And on top of these are all the graditude and love I have for you. And still the box is not full.


First words
The Salinas Valley is in Northern California.
You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.
I don't very much believe in blood. I think when a man finds good or bad in his children he is seeing only what he planted in them after they cleared the womb. - Samuel Hamilton
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Often described as Steinbeck's most ambitious novel, East of Eden brings to life the intricate details of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, and their interwoven stories.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142000655, Paperback)

FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. The biblical account of Cain and Abel is echoed in the history of two generations of the Trask family in California.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:57 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.… (more)

» see all 14 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185074, 0241952492

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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