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East of Eden (1952)

by John Steinbeck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
22,472406156 (4.39)1 / 950
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.
  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
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (sushidog)
    sushidog: Epic family novels
  5. 30
    Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (cometahalley, cometahalley)
  6. 20
    Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey (weener)
    weener: An epic, fascinating family drama.
  7. 20
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (cometahalley)
  8. 20
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (cometahalley)
  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
    The Notebook; The Proof; The Third Lie by Ágota Kristóf (UrliMancati)
  11. 00
    Años Inolvidables by John Dos Passos (cometahalley)
  12. 00
    Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters by John Steinbeck (Cecrow)
  13. 00
    A Journey into Steinbeck's California by Susan Shillinglaw (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: 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)
  14. 02
    Abel Sánchez by Miguel de Unamuno (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: The story of Cain and Abel reimagined in a more modern setting
1950s (15)
To Read (161)
AP Lit (235)

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English (384)  Italian (4)  German (3)  French (3)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (404)
Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
I was completely absorbed, mesmerized and fascinated by this book. Steinbeck has such a genius for realism. I was very impressed with Steinback's "Grapes of Wrath" when I read it for the first time last year. And "East of Eden" surpassed my expectations as well. It is tragic, moving, inspiring and philosophical. It is sincere without being sentimental. I would almost call it transcendent but the core of the book is so no-nonsense and so utterly American that I hesitate to use that term. Steinbeck imbues these characters with all of the contradictions and opposites found in life. The outcomes of the lives of some of the characters often surprised me. Whether they were good or evil--I was able to relate, identify and feel compassion for most of its carefully delineated characters. Steinbeck elucidated the gray area of their inner lives with meticulous detail. The people of this book are thinking people. They ponder, they wonder, they ruminate. They are always questioning. They struggle to maintain a balance between good and evil within themselves; they struggle with the torment of their souls. And most of them try to love each other as best as they can.

The saga starts in the era of the Civil War, continues through the time of the robber barons and the adventurous pioneers who have come out to the Wild West to make their fortunes, resolving itself in the era of World War I. Kate Trask (Cathy Ames) is the undeniable "villainesse" of the book--At first I viewed her character as an outright psychopath. She is completely amoral; definitely a hustler; a gangster from a film noir picture; a criminal genius who manages to commit atrocious deeds, all the while evading prison or punishment. Though ultimately she can't evade the conscience that she tries in vain to deny that she has. The corrupting influence of money is a major theme of this book. Kate Trask deserts her husband to become the madame of a whorehouse. Out of guilt, Kate leaves her fortune to her son Aron Trask. who is traumatized upon being introduced to her by his brother Caleb (Cal) for the first time as a seventeen year old [to escape it's ugliness, Aron Trask imagines the world as being very pure]. Cyrus Trask makes a fortune whose legality is questionable. Cyrus leaves this fortune to his son Adam who essentially becomes a "fine upstanding citizen". Cal Trask earns $15,000 selling beans, to make up for his father Adam's losing "lettuce venture", and then burns the money when his father won't accept it--He tries to buy his father's love and fails. However--Adam's refusal of Cal's generous offer is also a tragic mistake that leads to this novel's dénouement.

Samuel Hamilton and Trask family housekeeper / confidant Lee act as this novel's philosophers. They are both great thinkers; yet both are down to earth and lacking in ego. The supporting characters / minor players of the novel are compelling as well. Tom Hamilton has the capability for greatness and yet struggles with self-doubt over his intellectual and creative worth. Dessie Hamilton is a warm, laughing character who brings happiness to the lives of everyone around her. But after selling her business and moving back to the ranch that was her childhood home -- She is suddenly afflicted by sharp, shooting pains and shortly thereafter dies of an unnamed terminal illness. As happens in real life -- Fate determines how much time these characters will be allotted for their respective existences. In 'East of Eden" -- Too much good in life is usually followed by too much bad. In the same way that the drought years follow the wet years of the Salinas Valley ..... In closing -- The 1955 film version of "East of Eden" pales in comparison to this novel. In fact the film "East of Eden" only manages to cover about the last 200 pages of the novel. I would not recommend the film; it is pastel, cardboard stand-in, supremely abridged and modified version of this book. The film also makes major compromises to the conservative mores of the 1950s. It would probably take 3 films, lasting at least 2 hours each, to do justice to the brilliance of the novel.
( )
  stephencbird | Sep 19, 2023 |
I loved this book. I only read it as a respected friend recommended it for one of my book clubs.
Fascinating descriptions of people, places, events, and the process of making of life's decisions. ( )
  jjbinkc | Aug 27, 2023 |
I read most of Steinbeck for the plot, and probably missed much. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 13, 2023 |
All of the characters were so vivid and engaging, with the exception of Aron. He was completely flat to me, no depth or complexity at all, and this was especially glaring because of the impeccable job Steinbeck did with every single other character. So does one flaw ruin a book? No way! It's still a hell of a good book, and I'd recommend it to anyone. When the time comes, just gloss over the Aron stuff and focus on Cal. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Non so perché non l'abbia letto prima. Anzi lo so, pensavo fosse una lettura difficile... ho sempre sentito che Steinbeck era un maestro, i suoi libri pietre miliari e capostipiti della letteratura americana. Insomma, avevo una fifa blu... Questo libro lascia col fiato sospeso, come i romanzi di intrattenimento, ha una trama che avvince e coinvolge, la lettura è scorrevole, eppure non è un romanzo di intrattenimento, ritrae l'umanità come possono aver fatto Shakespeare o Jane Austen. Mi piace soprattutto il modo di entrare nel racconto, di centrare il punto partendo dal contesto, l'ho trovato cinematografico. Ecco forse il finale non l'ho trovato all'altezza, ma come si sarebbe potuta concludere meglio una storia così?
720 pagine che si leggono in un soffio... dovrebbe essere una lettura obbligatoria, un po' come Frankenstein ( )
  Mav_Danto | Jul 28, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, JohnAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Artadi, Vicente deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Angelis, GiulioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggink, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kahn, HarryTranslatorsecondary 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)

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.

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Book description
East of Eden, novel by John Steinbeck, published in 1952. It is a symbolic re-creation of the biblical story of Cain and Abel woven into a history of California’s Salinas Valley. With East of Eden Steinbeck hoped to reclaim his standing as a major novelist, but his broad depictions of good and evil come at the expense of subtlety in characterization and plot and it was not a critical success.

Spanning the period between the American Civil War and the end of World War I, the novel highlights the conflicts of two generations of brothers, the first being the kind, gentle Adam Trask and his wild brother Charles. Adam eventually marries Cathy Ames, an evil, manipulative, and beautiful prostitute; she betrays him, joining Charles on the very night of their wedding. Later, after giving birth to twin boys, she shoots Adam and leaves him to return to her former profession. In the shadow of this heritage Adam raises their sons, the fair-haired, winning, yet intractable Aron and the dark, clever Caleb. This second generation of brothers vie for their father’s approval.
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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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