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East of Eden Paperback – Jan 26 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 345 customer reviews

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Paperback, Jan 26 2012
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Viking (Jan. 26 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241952492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241952498
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.1 x 18.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 345 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,828,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
"East of Eden" is based on the biblical story of Cain’s fratricide of Abel from Genesis -- Cain is banished to east of Eden for his crime. "East of Eden" is a sprawling saga across several generations which deals with some deep fundamental human conflicts and issues – the conflict between good and evil, the competition between siblings for the affection of parents, love which is not reciprocated, the nature of the human soul.

As well as the antagonistic dynamic between Adam and Charles Trask, and reproduced in Adam’s sons Cal and Aron, there is the troublesome relationship between Adam and his wife Cathy. When Samuel Hamilton, another of the key characters in East of Eden, first meets Cathy he experiences great revulsion. Steinbeck's description of Cathy -- as someone who is missing something essential in her soul -- when he introduces her into the novel is an absolute masterpiece. All of which enhances the sense of the great depth of Steinbeck's classic.

There is an interesting monologue central to "East of Eden" in which Lee (Adam Trask's Chinese cook, and ultimately his confidante and mentor) describes how a group of Chinese Buddhist scholars spend two years studying the story of Cain and Abel and conclude that Christians have misinterpreted the Biblical story. Their interpretation: Cain had a choice. Maybe that is as much as we can realistically hope for, that people strive to make the right choices.

This is a difficult read because of seriousness of the issues raised, but also richly rewarding.
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Format: Paperback
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. You remember Lee, who is so selfless and good and wise; you remember the two sets of brothers, Adam and Charles, and Cal and Aron; and with a series of spinal shudders you find you cannot forget Cathy (or Catherine) who has to go down as one of the most sinister - and interesting - characters in all fiction.

No tricks, no overly clever plot-twists or wordplays, this is just a straight-ahead, old-fashioned, fascinating story about the greatest biblical theme of them all: people's struggle with good and evil. But that's not all. It's so much more than that. [Ok, nerdy confession time:] I drew up a list of all the great themes "East of Eden" covers but have since scrapped it because Steinbeck does precisely that in the book's appropriately humble epigraph, delivered as a simple letter to a dear friend:

"Dear Pat,
You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, 'Why don't you make something for me?'
I asked you what you wanted, and you said, 'A box.'
'What for?'
'To put things in.'
'What things?'
'Whatever you have,' you said.
Well, here's your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts - the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.
And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.
And still the box is not full.
John"

What more need be said?

-Probably Because I Have To
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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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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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