East of Eden Online eBook by John Steinbeck
Click Here to Download the Book 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. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.
Reviews Steinbeck said this was his greatest work, and that all that came before it was practice. I can see why. East of Eden is a masterful example of fiction's craft. Setting is detailed and seen through the proper glasses for the proper age, life philosophy is interwoven and taught to us through an incredibly complex array of mouthpieces, and the characters are fantastically memorable, dramatic, deep, severe and nakedly human. Steinbeck's characters drive this novel, and they are supported by an absolutely brilliant grasp of human psychology, and character descriptions so delicious you want to eat them. Characters such as Cyrus, Adam, and Charles Trask, Samuel, Tom, Liza and Will Hamilton, Cathy (Kate), Lee, and of course Aaron and Cal (Caleb) will hopefully stick with me always. Minor characters are also detailed, memorable and fun. Many offer a quick slice of life and provide more fuel for the reader's imagination, while pages of history ranging from virtual news clips to plot-throwing events keep track of time and set the whole story in historical context. Steinbeck did his research, knew his history, and studied the classics - and it shows. This is no light bedtime read - it is a large, dense book, but one which may cause you to read it for far longer than you expected too, and may cause you to hope school gets cancelled tomorrow or you don't have to go to work; so you can keep delving into this amazing story.
This book, among the other, shorter, works by this great writer i have on my shelf, stands out in my memory for two reasons: the first is because I read it while sitting at the hospital bedside of my husband, Andreas, who had undergone brain surgery, and on the tube on the way to a friend's home where I was staying. It also gave me the word Weltschmerz, which was to come in pretty useful in the hard years that followed Andreas' death. Steinbeck knew people and gave them to us in ways we could recognise as life shades. The conflicts between the brothers, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, Cathy's unfaithfulness and worse. It gave a picture of small-town life at a time when America was growing up into the nation it would become. "In human affairs of danger and delicay succesful conclusion is sharply limited by hurry. So often men trip by being in a rush." (Act in haste, repent at leisure.)Steinbeck's gift as a writer was to be able to make his people talk so that the reader can pick up the rhythm and accent in the mind as one reads. A master.
This Summer I discovered two of my all time five favorite books: Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner and East of Eden. Eden stirred for very different reasons. First, the pace of the story is more aggressive. Its rare for a book to inspire my loftiest moral sensibilities and also fully capture my imagination. Second, it is a story rich with Biblical symbolism. Steinbeck offers insight to the Garden Story and the Cain and Abel Story. He writes characters representing the major actors of the early Genesis passages. The symbolism is elegantly tied to the story. I was intimately connected to many of these characters. Perhaps that is one of the major accomplishments of Steinbeck's novel. He was able to write a compelling novel using one of our more comicbookish religious narratives. To top it off he moralizes the Biblical stories to make the lessons relevant to us. Yet another genius of the book. I have never felt connected to the Adam and Eve story but Steinbeck's Eve who later represents Satan is...monstrous. His Cain and Abel struggle he dares calling universal. If you think the Bible is a drool fest read
this book. If you love the Bible read this book. In the end, Steinbeck's novel is a superior option for both lovers and haters of our most holy text.
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