Diane Rocha, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by Diane Rocha)
This book still holds up after all these years and after the sixth read for me. This time I read it along with its companion, Journal of a Novel, the journal entries Steinbeck wrote to his friend and publisher, Pascal Covici, each day that he wrote E of E. Decades ago, when I read E of E the last time, the concept of Timshel changed my life. This reading deepened my understanding of that concept, so much so that I followed up with two volumes of literary criticism. I was stunned and dismayed at what I read. Some critics panned Steinbeck for his "sentimentalism," but I disagree. First and foremost, his writing is beautiful. He is able to take his reader along a journey with him through the Salinas valley such that we not only see it - we are there with him - breathing the air he breathed - gazing at the long valley and the mountains at which he gazed so long ago. And the story is enthralling. It is his story - his family's story - of love and betrayal - of wide-eyed innocence turned to despair - and redemption.
Read it. It may change your life too. If nothing else, you'll be transported back to a time and a place where life was so much simpler - basic - and far less traffic. : )
harold williams, August 18, 2007 (view all comments by harold williams)
Although this book is almost 800 pages long, you won't want it to end. You'll love the "good" characters such as Adam Trask and Samuel Hamilton, and you'll yearn for the demise of the "bad" characters such as Charles Trask and Cathy Ames. Did pretty little Cathy really murder her parents, a teacher, a brothel owner, and a close friend? Why would Cathy betray her husband by having sex with his brother? Although Steinbeck makes many allusions to the Bible, anyone can understand the universal struggle between good and evil. Sometimes the lines are blurred when the "bad" characters do something good. Most interesting books have very strong characters, and this book is no exception.
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jazzydaniels, November 5, 2006 (view all comments by jazzydaniels)
East of Eden is an intense novel. It must be read closely in order to understand further meaning. I reccommend reading Genesis before reading East of Eden, for there are many allusions to the Bible.
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I was once told a good novel will set its tenor by the end of its first page, so lately I've been skimming the first page of prospective reads to test this theory. When I did this with Steinbeck's East of Eden, I couldn't stop; the assault of great writing never let up, and I knew I was irretrievably in for the long haul. No one writes exactly like Steinbeck, and this century-spanning book about two families in California's Salinas Valley finds the writer at his culminating genius (Steinbeck said, "I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for [East of Eden]."). His prose is vivid, fine, and panoramic in vision; his characters are so richly cast that he's capable of inducing a genuine sense of the glories and tragedies they experience. I read this book so compulsively (I stayed up till 4:00 a.m. one night / cancelled dates with friends / ate soup from a can) that I'm almost mad at myself for not savoring it more slowly, but there's ample consolation in Steinbeck's prolific career for any of his insatiable, expectant readers. Good follow-up read: Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters.
Penguin Classics commemorates the 50th anniversary of Steinbeck's Nobel Prize with Portable Steinbeck for the 21st century
It would be impossible to overstate John Steinbeck's enduring influence on American letters. Profuse with a richness of language, sly humor, and empathy for even his most flawed characters, Steinbeck's books are still widely read and deeply relevant today.
The Portable Steinbeck is a grand sampling of his most important and popular works. Here are the complete novels Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony, together with self-contained excerpts from several longer novels, the text of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, a fascinating introduction by Pascal Covici, Jr., son of Steinbeck's longtime editor, and brand new introduction from leading Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw that puts Steinbeck in the context of the 21st century.
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. "A strange and original work of art".--New York Times Book Review.
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