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East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden (original 1952; edition 1992)

by John Steinbeck

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15,797279112 (4.4)1 / 761
Title:East of Eden
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:New York: Penguin Books, 1992.
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, classics

Work details

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

  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. 20
    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)
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    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (cometahalley)
  6. 20
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (cometahalley)
  7. 20
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (sushidog)
    sushidog: Epic family novels
  8. 20
    Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (cometahalley, cometahalley)
  9. 10
    Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey (weener)
    weener: An epic, fascinating family drama.
  10. 11
    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.
  11. 01
    Abel Sanchez and Other Short Stories by Miguel de Unamuno (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: The story of Cain and Abel reimagined in a more modern setting
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    Años Inolvidables by John Dos Passos (cometahalley)
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    The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie by Ágota Kristóf (UrliMancati)
1950s (15)
To Read (45)

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English (266)  German (2)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (277)
Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
I just LOVED this book. I read it in 2 or 3 days. For a book this length I usually take a week or so. I just could NOT put it down. So intriguing. Wonderful storytelling. Fabulous saga. Such a valuable lesson to be learned. When I was reading I could see how the characters were repeating the actions of their forebears. They couldn't see it themselves though. I wanted to yell at them. I love Steinbeck. This is one of his masterpieces. Do I dare watch the movie now?

For parents, talk to teens when/if they read it. It's a great book but there are some areas that would be best with a discussion. I see why it was put on censored lists in the past. Don't let that stop you from reading it though. ( )
  lnuenke | Apr 21, 2017 |
Fictional tale of early California ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 10, 2017 |
Steinbeck's family saga that's rooted in a retelling of the Genesis story. The story follows two families in the Salinas Valley of California. The Trasks, relocated from Connecticut, are wealthy and own a large farm. Shortly after the birth of their twin boys, Aron and Caleb, Cathy Trask shoots her husband Adam and leaves him. She returns to her previous profession, prostitution. Adam is a broken man. Luckily, Adam has a Chinese man servant, Lee, who raises the boys and essentially becomes the mother of the Trask household. The Hamilton family emigrated from Ireland and are poor farmers and inventors living on land with poor soil. Sam Hamilton is known in the county for giving the best advice. The Trask and Hamilton families become friends and their stories intertwine. Sam Hamilton was actually John Steinbecks' maternal grandfather. John Steinbeck (as a child) actually makes an appearance in 3 or 4 later chapters and is occasionally narrating the story. This is a story of good vs evil and whether people are born evil or good or have free will to choose.
This is a brilliant book, beautiful, descriptive, sad and hopeful. It took me two months of bedtime reading to finish this book but it is definitely a book that should be read slowly and savored. Highly recommended. ( )
  VioletBramble | Nov 23, 2016 |
I first read this book 25 years ago, when I was in high school. I had a gold-colored paperback, with very thin pages, almost like onionskin. When it was time to go to church -- we went to church three times a week -- I couldn't bear to put it down, so I sneaked into the sanctuary and hid it behind my hymnal. I suppose this was appropriate given all the Cain and Abel parallels in this novel, although at the time it seemed quite scandalous.

This time around I read it on my Kindle, sneaking in a few chapters at a time as I updated our website and nagged my children to do their homework.

I loved this sweeping epic of a novel then and I love it now, although its worldview is bleak. No one can overcome their true nature in this book, no matter how much they want to, no matter how much they dread the damage that will ensue. And the Abels of the world cause as much pain and wreak as much havoc as do the Cains.

The characters, I think, come across a bit thinly because they are designed to be archetypes; the book doesn't traffic in realism, but in allegory. This does not bother me -- I don't think every novel has to be written from a realist perspective -- but I know it would bother some.

What does bother me a bit is the author's handling of Cathy/Kate, and to a lesser extent his handling of Abra later in the book. Steinbeck at one point straight-up refers to Cathy as a "monster"; I think she is supposed to function as a combination of Eve and the serpent. I found myself with more sympathy for Cathy this time than I did twenty-five years ago. She is restless because she is trapped; she does not desire the life that her loving, well-meaning parents and husband have designed for her, and she does not have a good way out. Steinbeck treats her frustrations as evidence of her pure malevolence when in fact she has plenty of reason to be frustrated. This does not, of course, excuse Cathy's actions, but it does make her more complicated and less sheerly evil.

And Abra? Well, given that she is the only other female character of any note, she is awfully dull. And she tells Cal repeatedly that she isn't "good," but we see very little evidence of this so she just comes across as strangely self-hating.

These caveats aside, it is such a pleasure to reread a book that you loved in high school and discover that it holds up to your memory of it and still speaks to you. ( )
1 vote gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Steinbeck is an author I've put off for quite awhile. I tend to romanticise my fate with books, always believing there's a "right" time to explore a new one and hoping the books fall in with my notion. In this case, it happened to work out just that way. It was a last minute rec at the library (a great rec btw) as I was checking out and I read my way through the other check-outs, eyeing it surreptitiously as you might eye a tiger sitting in the corner of your room if you were foolish enough not to run away screaming your head off. It might seem pretty silly, it certainly does to me anyways. But I think that's the deal with reading. It's not simply a book, it's thought. Or, more intimidatingly, it's classic thought. It's experience that might completely change parts of your entire outlook.

As remarked several times on it's covers and in it's introduction, Steinbeck referred to this book as "the first book" or similar. As you read through, you can definitely understand the weight of his statement. At a point in the story he says, "We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil." There is of course a contest between the two in this book, in many forms. However, I felt it more pinpointed to the fact that you have to take one with the other. So I'd say I agree with both the reference and the weight of it, from his personal outlook on his writings and his view, defined in the quote, of the base of all plot lines.

Between this weight, the contesting sides, ideas on theology and ideals, and simply stated truths about the happenings and characters of the books such as, "you can boast about anything if it's all you have," it was an engrossing read. It has the ability to prompt self-examination and that should always be applauded.

I will say that the casual racism and sexism in classics is often intrusive in my reading, and this classic wasn't any different in that regard. Mainly because there's so much intelligence throughout the book you'd like to hope the author would be of higher thought in those areas as well. And yes, I know, "it was the language of the time" and all that. But it's pretty dismal nonetheless. Primarily because you'd think we'd have come further all this time later. However, even that let down can prompt self-examination if you're up to it. As they say in the book, "timshel," meaning 'thou mayest'.

All in all, it was a book that came at the right time and a book I'd definitely recommend. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
A fine, lusty sense of life is here, a delight in the spectacle of men and women struggling in the age-old ways to meet their separate destines, and an abundance of good story-telling... John Steinbeck has grown in his respect for his fellow human beings, in his understanding of them. He has reached mature and thoughtful conclusions about them. And he has expressed his conclusions in interesting and thought-provoking fashion.
added by johnsmithsen | editinformasi kerja (pay site)
Probably the best of John Steinbeck's novels... ["East of Eden's"] dramatic center is a narrow story of social horror that rests quite disarmingly on the proposition that "there are monsters born in the world to human parents." But through the exercise of a really rather remarkable freedom of his rights as a novelist, Mr. Steinbeck weaves in, and more particularly around, this story of prostitution a fantasia of history and of myth that results in a strange and original work of art.
Novelist Steinbeck has done some of his best writing in East of Eden. As always, he describes his Salinas Valley with fidelity and charm. Moreover, individual scenes and yarns are frequently turned with great skill. But whether as a novel about pioneers in a new country or just men & women working out their private, earthly fates, East of Eden is too blundering and ill-defined to make its story point. That point, says Steinbeck, is "the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil." East of Eden has over-generous portions of both, but a novelist who knows what he wants channels them, he doesn't spill them.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall 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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Disambiguation notice
East of Eden was written by John Steinbeck, not Ernest Hemingway.
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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.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185074, 0241952492

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