East of Eden

East of Eden

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'There is only one book to a man,' Steinbeck wrote of East of Eden, his most ambitious novel. Set in the rich farmland of the Salinas Valley, California, this powerful, often brutal novel, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations hopelessly re-enact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 640 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 30mm | 439.98g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141185074
  • 9780141185071
  • 5,682

Review quote

"A novel planned on the grandest possible scale...One of those occasions when a writer has aimed high and then summoned every ounce of energy, talent, seriousness, and passion of which he was capable...It is an entirely interesting and impressive book." The New York Herald Tribune"A fantasia and myth...a strange and original work of art." The New York Times Book Review"A moving, crying pageant with wilderness strengths." Carl Sandburg"When the book club ended a year ago, I said I would bring it back when I found the book that was moving and this is a great one. I read it for myself for the first time and then I had some friends read it. And we think it might be the best novel we've ever read!" Oprah Winfrey"show more

About John Steinbeck

Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. His complete works will be published in Penguin Modern Classics.show more

Review Text

Tremendous in scope- tremendous in depth of penetration- and as different a Steinbeck as the Steinbeck of Burning Bright was from the Steinbeck of Grates of ??th. Here is no saga of the underprivileged - no drama of social significance. Tenderness, which some felt was inherent in everything Steinbeck wrote, is muted almost to the vanishing point in this story of conflict within character, impact of character on character, of circumstances on personalities, of the difficult acceptance of individual choice as against the dominance of inherited traits. The philosophy is intimately interwoven with the pace of story, as he follows-from New England to California over some fifty odd years-the two families which hold stage center. There are the Trasks, brothers in two generations, strangely linked, strangely at war the one with the other; there are the Hamiltons (John Steinbeck's own forebears), a unique Irish born couple, the man an odd lovable sort of genius who never capitalizes on his ideas for himself, the tiny wife, tart, cold-and revealing now and again unexpected gentleness of spirit, the burgeoning family, as varied a tribe as could be found. And- on the periphery but integral to the deepening philosophy which motivates the story, there is the wise Chinese servant scholar and gentleman, who submerges his own goals to identify himself wholly with the needs of the desolate Adam Trask, crushed by his soulless wife's desertion, and the twin boys, Cal, violent, moody, basically strong enough to be himself - and Aron, gentle, unwilling to face disagreeable facts, beloved by all who met him. In counterpoint, the story follows too the murky career of Adam's wife, Cathy- who came to him from a mysteriously clouded past, and returned to a role for which she was suited,- as a costly whore, and later as Madame in Salinas most corrupt "house", where the perversions of sex ridden males were catered to- and cruelty capitalized upon. Shock techniques applied with rapier and not bludgeon- will rule the book out for the tender- skinned. But John Steinbeck, the philosopher, dominates his material and brings it into sharply moral focus. (Kirkus Reviews)show more