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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you've got time to spare, you've got to read East of Eden
->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...
Published on June 5 2002 by Drew Fetterman

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3.0 out of 5 stars East of Eden: Worth It?
Although I have not finished the book,East of Eden, I believe I have read enough of it to critique it.
The book is set in the early 20th century in the Salinas valley of California. The book is separted into three parts, two of which I have read. The two main characters are both men, one lives in California and one lives on the east coast. The two characters don't...
Published on March 29 2004 by Alexandra


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you've got time to spare, you've got to read East of Eden, June 5 2002
By 
Drew Fetterman (Cupertino, CA United States) - See all my reviews
->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.
->As with many long novels, the vastness of the plot is sometimes too much to handle, and is the book's main weakness. The plot is inherently hard to follow at times, because switching back and forth between the two families proves to be challenge. And with the huge number of characters involved over the span of three generations, keeping track of who's who is no easy task. The book often goes into tangent-like sub stories from time to time about non-significant characters, and the author's purpose of doing so is not always apparent.
->Technicalities of length aside, Steinbeck here has truly written a classic with undying themes and a compelling, tragic story. If you ever have a fair chunk of time you can dedicate to serious reading, pick up a copy of East of Eden.
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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 (Chandler, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
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
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
By 
M. Swinney "Marc My Words" (Flower Mound, TX) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: East of Eden (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. He tells it like it is.
Steinbeck struggled and struggled to write and finish "East of Eden." The scope of what he was trying to attempt was extremely daunting...almost debilitatingly so. Steinbeck tried to retell the story of "Genesis," set in his hometown of Salinas...drawing from his own life, the town's life, the times between the Civil War and World War I. He pulls it off with quite some characters...Adam Trask and his twin sons Caleb and Aron, their mother--the completely evil Cathy/Cat/Kate, Adam's evenly evil and good brother Charles, the sage Chinese Lee, and the beautiful of mind, body, and spirit love interest of no less than Caleb, Aron, and Lee...Abra. I think to call, "East of Eden," lacking in story and characters is severely missing the mark. Another criticism of the book is that the Chinese character of Lee is a racial stereotype. I didn't find this to be the case. Lee seems to be a multi-dimensional character that if anything deepens the understanding that his ethnicity takes a back seat to his humanity. Another criticism is that the character Kate is too evil...to the point of dehumanization. Steinbeck's portrayal of Kate may have roots in his failed relationships but it does not come across as misogynistic. He balances this out with other female characters, such as Abra, that have capacity for the gamut of human characteristics. Kate's portrayal of evil makes the character more real...more frightening...and indicative of human evil that, regardless of philosophy, tends to surface from time to time.
In my mind, Steinbeck's "Cannery Row," still stands out as his best (at least among his works I've read so far), but "East of Eden," solidifies his place among a very short list of greatest American authors. It is a work deserving of a Nobel Prize for literature...damn the critics to say what they will.
--MMW
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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
This review is from: East of Eden (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, Feb. 22 2005
By 
Michael Brown (Greensboro, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A novel about choices, July 27 2004
By A Customer
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. This is the essence of this book: conflict. And the physical clashes that take place in the book only mirror what Steinbeck is really writing about: the fact that we all have a choice to be who we are, or aren't. This is the story to two brothers who compete for their father's attention. The parallels to the bible are so obvious that they're almost insulting, but after reading many of the reviews here, I'm shocked at how many people don't get this. All the characters can be seen as metaphors and symbols, but even if you don't know this, you can still read this book on the level it was probably written for. But Steinbeck didn't just write symbolically; rather, he meant this parallel to be noticed and even points to this with the use of the Hebrew word "Timshel" which he (and others) translates as thou mayest, meaing that we all have a choice. There's a reason this book is still a bestseller, and it's not because of Oprah, though I'm glad she brought new attention to it. Would also recommend THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOOD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars East of Eden, July 8 2004
i've been trying to figure out why i liked this book so much. i was expecting to find it long and dull.
When the first chapter was entirely narration, without a single peice of dialouge or plot, i almost put the book down then and there (actually, there isnt any dialouge until the bottom of page 24). However, i actually found myself enjoying even the long discriptions of scenery that i usually skim or skip entirely.
The plot was fast, but somehow the book kept the feeling that it was slowly plodding along. It almost has the feeling of reading a history textbook. for some reason, however, i was completely intrigued, and had trouble putting it down for long.
Actually, to talk about the book's "plot" is a bit of a stretch, because the focus of the book is entirely off of action. Many key events happen "offstage" (to use theater terms), and some are only implied. Steinbeck focuses on motivations, and the characters thoughts and emotions, rather than the actions themselves.
everything i usually i love about a novel, this novel didnt have, and this novel had alot i usually hate in a novel, and yet i still found myself enjoying it immensely. i guess thats y its a classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical and Almost as Powerful, June 22 2004
By 
V. Marshall (North Fork, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Steinbeck has managed to carry a biblical idea into the future, taking everyday characters and bringing them to life with ancient tradition while allowing his readers to see the commoness of man through both good and evil doings.
Not only is this book biblical in theory but it is biblical in proportion as well at 600 pages it is a testament to Steinbeck that he was able to sustain his idea for such a lengthy saga. I read the book voraciously and finished it within two weeks, a first for someone conducting a busy life. I will be forever haunted by the impressive characters I came to know so intimately in the pages of "East of Eden". Steinbeck mastered the art of transferring biblical characters into believable modern life, Adam and Eve, Moses, Cain and Abel etc... Steinbeck convinced me that all people hold within themselves a choice between good and evil and he further instilled in me the fact that I have a choice (timshel) to embark on whatever journey my soul so wishes. I once believed that evil stemmed from abuse or neglect but I am better able to realize now that evil sometimes is just inborn. Steinbeck's words make you question your own choices and prepare you to some extent for the outcome of those choices. Although a choice may seem easy today its repercussions can destroy you tomorrow.
I am amazed how this novel can actually apply to the modern day accusations about American life as well. I highlighted one paragraph and will refer to it often when I am finding that I have become spoiled by this American way of life, "Lee went on, 'That's why I include myself. We all have that heritage, no matter what old land our fathers left. All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It's a breed-selected out by accident. And so we're overbrave and overfearful-we're kind and cruel as children. We're overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We're oversentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic-and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? We eat too much. We have no taste, no sense of proportion. We throw our energy about like waste. In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without intervening culture. Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture? That's what we are, Cal-all of us. You aren't very different" (Pg. 570). As I search for connection in the world, not just as an American, but also as a human this paragraph says it all. We are a wasteful, ambitious and free nation that tends to exaggerate our excess and ignore our contribution to other nations in this world out of habit and a sense of security. These luxuries are something we have a choice to share or misrepresent. I can only pray that the novel of our lives ends with as much compassion and insight as did Steinbeck's, "East of Eden".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, June 21 2004
By 
Josh Daniels "jd83" (Maple Grove, MN United States) - See all my reviews
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First, a large disclaimer. I have become a Steinbeck zealot over this past year and have found all of his work fascinating. I have always gotten to the end of one of his books and wished for more. And the same holds true for this tome, despite its great length, and as in all of his other books, I feel as if I personally know many of the characters and think of them as acquaintances.
Plot review: As has been mentioned in other reviews, this is supposed to be a metaphor for Cain and Abel, but it is much more than that. Steinbeck weaves in the philosophy of choosing your own destiny as opposed to accepting your fate, as told in the book of Genesis. To do this, he weaves together many stories of families and does a masterful job of describing the good and evil found in people.
Why I liked this book so much: The characters! I wish that I was as powerful with the pen as Steinbeck is so I could properly gush over them. For example --
Kate: is the most vile, evil woman I have ever encountered in literature. And not because she is hateful, but because she is totally devoid of any scruples or feeling and only seeks her own gain. She is manipulative and cold and puts on the appropriate facade for whatever it is she is trying to accomplish. She also recognizes the intelligence in her adversary, and strongly dislikes those who see through her facade.
Samuel: One of the jolliest, wisest, and most inventive characters you could ever hope to meet. He recognizes his strengths and weaknesses, and he has a thirst for knowledge that is enviable.
Lee: The servant who is actually the cornerstone of the main character's family. A wise and learned man who can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to and keeps the family afloat when Adam dulls his senses to the world.
These characters all play second fiddle in the Cain/Abel story to Adam, Cal, and Aron, but they are the stars of the show in my eyes.
The book does lose its way for a little while, in my mind, when Steinbeck spends alot of time describing the Hamilton family. This part did not add much to the story to me, but I understand he was trying to describe people from his own family in this part. This part is the only reason I rated the book 4 *s instead of 5, and is but a small detractor.
This book will cause you to philosophize about choices in your own life, and the characters will possibly cause you to become as much of a Steinbeck addict as I have become.
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East of Eden
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Paperback - May 24 1990)
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