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

John Steinbeck
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 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 Centennial edition, specially designed to commemorate one hundred years of Steinbeck, features french flaps and deckle-edged pages.
 
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translato

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East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) + The Grapes of Wrath + Of Mice and Men
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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
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
->While it is often said that quality is much more important than quantity, there are times in which you can slap the two together to get a surprisingly good result. Such is the case with John Steinbeck's immense novel, East Of Eden. Although famous for his earlier novel Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck considered East of Eden his more important, life-long work for him. "I've been practicing for a book for 35 years, and this is it. There is only one book to a man," he said to his publisher when he completed the novel in 1952. Indeed, this novel is a truly a culminative work of Steinbeck's
->The story is tragedy, with rays of hope strewn throughout it and a moral lesson behind it. It is about the intertwining destinies of two sets of people in the Salinas Valley: the gregarious and emotionally diverse Hamilton family and the passionate, moody Trask clan. The book centers many of its themes around biblical references, such as the fall of Adam and Eve, and the deadly rivalry between Cain and Able. The importance of individual identity, and the consequences of blind love are also discussed.
->The book is a example of great story telling. Steinbeck had a natural flow of language that the reader can relate to and uses practical, to-the-point diction to easily communicate his story. The progress of the Trask family's development from zealous and impulsive into contemplative and vigilant is fascinating to watch. Steinbeck makes you either love his characters or loathe them, depending on whom he's talking about. There's something about his writing that compels you to read on to the next chapter to learn what new tragedy or jubilance will afflict the character next. It is simply a book that you won't put down; that is, until you realize how much time has gone by.
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TIMSHEL - ching chong March 26 2003
Format:Paperback
What an incredibly written novel portraying the Biblical story of Cain and Abel! I have never come across a book this great. Steinbeck did a marvelous job in putting his thoughts and themes together throughout the book. Each characters is very well defined and each symbolizes either the good or the evil. Thimsel- "thou mayest" is a Hebrew word that means "GOD has given humans the choice to overcome their sins". This phrase means a great deal to the novel and in fact, it is the core idea of the novel. A person might inherit characterstics of his predecessors, but he is the one who has the ability choose whether to follow though it or to stand up on his own conscience.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Every person should read this - doesn't matter who your favorite...
Every person should read this - doesn't matter who your favorite authors are, you will like this. And it should be a graduation present for every kid coming out of high school if... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Brett Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Ever Non-Business Type Book. It was Amazing.
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. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alex Drysdale
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 13 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
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