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East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) [Paperback]

John Steinbeck
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (335 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 18 2003 Oprah's Classics Book Club Selections

A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America’s most enduring authors, in a deluxe Centennial edition

In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden "the first book," and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel 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.
 
The masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence. Adapted for the 1955 film directed by Elia Kazan introducing James Dean, and read by thousands as the book that brought Oprah’s Book Club back, East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.

This Penguin Classics deluxe edition, specially created for John Steinbeck's centennial, features french flaps and deckle-edged pages.


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Review



"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

About the Author

No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and the plight of the common man, penning some of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century and winning such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He received the Nobel Prize in 1962, "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic With Entertainment Value Aug. 12 2003
By edzaf
Format:Paperback
If Oprah Winfrey was looking to get the American public (and perhaps even the world) interested in reading "classic" literature she could have not chosen a better selection than John Steinbeck's "East of Eden." This is certainly not the "tamer" Steinbeck that I read in high school English class. While we may not even think twice about it today, "Eden" must have been simply scandalous when it was originally published in 1952 with murder, prostitution, and adultery just some of the more "adult" issues explored in this epic novel.
Despite its intimidating length, "East" moves along quickly as we follow the life of Adam Trask - from his East Coast childhood and troubled relationship with his brother to businessman and father of two sons with equally complex relations of their own. As the title suggests, the book is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Cain and Abel story. As with most of the "classics," the novel is rife with topics and themes to deeply delve into and discuss with your book club. My only criticisms are that the "good vs. evil" angle gets a bit heavy-handed at times and, for me, the novel loses some steam in the final quarter - but these are certainly not enough to not heartily recommend the work.
The nice thing about "Eden" is if you choose not to take the "literary" route, you can still be simply entertained and enthralled by Steinbeck's plot and characters. There is enough suspense and intrigue that make it not terribly different from many of today's bestsellers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic Feb. 22 2005
Format:Paperback
It is often for someone to come across great reads that actually changes the person's life. Reading Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" and John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" had a profound influence on me. There was so much to learn from those stories since they were so complete in treating humanity. In fact, these are deep, insightful and inspirational books that one can not easily throw aside after one has finished. These major classics are books to ponder about, books for us to think and reflect over and over. If you haven't read this great piece of American literature, then I suggest that you do so.I also recommend:Union Moujik, Anna Karenina and Disciples of Fortune-these are two other classic works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Salinas is East of Eden; is Monterey Eden? July 10 2004
Format:Library Binding
This one's dark folks. I have to say I didn't expect Steinbeck's "East of Eden," to catch me the way it did. The themes Steinbeck struggles with are epic--the relationship of men within the family, good and evil, human nature. Critics derided the novel when it came out and it may have left Steinbeck struggling to write in his waning years, but the Nobel prize he received shortly after "East of Eden's" release was truly deserving. Truly deserving because of the work of "East of Eden," and not despite it.
I read the wonderful and incomparable biography "John Steinbeck, Writer," by Jackson J. Benson before tackling "East of Eden," and it tainted my expectations. Some criticisms of the novel I found initially true. Steinbeck seems to be more straightforward and writes more of what's on his mind instead of letting the story and characters breathe these things naturally. At some point in the novel that approach strikes me as breaking the novelist dictum of, "show don't tell." Steinbeck does a lot of telling. Surprisingly enough, in the end, this slight misstep strengthens the overall story. It puts you in the mind of Steinbeck and allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the dark dark nature of some of "East of Eden's" characters.
Steinbeck always tended to have a dark side, but "East of Eden," is a stark look at the underbelly of humanity. However, while we are looking at the underbelly of a seemingly upright community of Salinas, we also see that humanity is redeeming. Some of the very incomprehensible evil within a person is matching by a boundless capacity for good. How can that be? This is why Steinbeck's "East of Eden," surpasses the better known and wider read, "The Grapes of Wrath." Steinbeck seems to accept human nature and not sugar coat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Relate To but Intriguing June 5 2002
Format:Paperback
Throughout East of Eden, John Steinbeck creates characters that are intriguing but pushes their personalities to the extreme ends of the spectrum of good and evil, making them difficult to relate to. Despite this, the characters' interactions and the history that they weave makes a compelling read. The parallel to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel is clear and at times, the familiar struggles of the "Cains" of the book provoke an empathy that the more angelic characters fail to stimulate. Even the evilest of characters such as Cathy, can be identified with more then the more moral characters, such as Adam, and, without a doubt, make for a more interesting read. Still, despite issues with characterization, the book pulls you into its world of interweaving stories and one quickly gets lost in trying to sort out the intricacies of relationships and human traits. Despite puzzling family history stories that will have you wondering about their exact significance to the rest of the book, the parallel themes of guilt and forgiveness tie the book together from beginning to end.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first thing I've ever read that is not science, psychology, business, etc. and I absolutely couldn't put it down. I read the entire book in two giant power sessions. It is brilliant and give you such a perspective of live, how and and small it can be.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading it.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story
I'm still reading this book and thoroughly enjoying the story. It took me awhile to get use to John Steinbeck's style of writing but he's up there with my favourites now.
Published 11 months ago by Gary Miller
1.0 out of 5 stars LATE LATE LATE
I ordered the book to be delivered between March 22-29 as I was moving by April 7th. The book never arrived. Read more
Published on April 11 2011 by Brianna
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect kind of read
This book was amazing. With so many other reviews out there, there is doubtful anything I can add that is new but I felt I had to write a review because I loved this story so much. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2011 by Kirstie
5.0 out of 5 stars `All great and precious things are lonely.'
East of Eden is primarily set in the Salinas Valley, California in the time period between 1900 and 1918. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2010 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars More 'guilty pleasure' than literary classic, but a very good novel...
Critics of this novel will tell you that it's a heavy-handed, melodramatic, bloated example of literary self indulgence; and frankly these are valid complaints. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2009 by J. Norburn
5.0 out of 5 stars A favorite forever
East of Eden is a fantastic novel. It is absolutely timeless and just sucks you into it's world. The characters, scenarios, and lessons illustrated in the book really speak to the... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2009 by Arisa Goldstone
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time top ten, wise, humane, beautiful
An all time fave. Why? Because there is next to no ego in the last book John Steinbeck ever wrote. You finish "East of Eden" and you remember the characters not the writer. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2009 by Jonathan Mendelsohn
5.0 out of 5 stars Trask family on display
Faulkner once wrote that the only thing worth writing about was the conflict within the human heart. Enter EAST OF EDEN, Steinbeck's best work. Read more
Published on March 22 2007 by Faulkner Man
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Timshel' like it or not
My mom recommended this book to me after reading it for a college english lit. class. I'd heard of it, knew it was a "classic", and also remembered there was a movie with the... Read more
Published on March 15 2006 by Julie R. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
It is often for someone to come across great reads that actually changes the person's life. Reading Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" and John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" had a profound... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2005 by Michael Brown
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