East of Eden
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East of Eden

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  218,566 ratings  ·  9,955 reviews
John Steinbeck. East of Eden. New York: Viking Press, 1952. First edition, first printing. Octavo. 602 pages.

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...more
Hardcover, First Edition, First Printing, 602 pages
Published 1952 by New York: Viking Press
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Apr 18, 2007 Frank rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: any American lit fan
Shelves: to-reread
This book is mind blowing. It is John Steinbeck at his sharpest. He said that every author really only has one "book," and that all of his books leading up to East of Eden were just practice--Eden would be his book.

I could write a summary of the book, but it would be more trouble than it's worth. You will often hear it referred to as a "modern retelling of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel" but that is too simplistic. Steinbeck takes the story of Cain and Abel and makes Cain (in the form of Ca...more
I hate this book. Hate. Ponderous, pretentious, melodramatic, self-satisfied, patronizing to its readers, with ultimately nothing to say. Can be summarized thus: a bunch of people with no formal education whatsoever sit around discussing the time they read the Old Testament in Hebrew. They then tell us all how to live. Uh...right. I knew we were in trouble with the unbelievably lame introduction -- some forced, self-congratulatory metaphor about a box, if memory serves -- but it's hard to believ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Kristin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone!!
I am on a golden roll of amazingly fantastic books!! East of Eden by John Steinbeck was our book club pick for this month. I almost didn't read it. You see, it's an old friend...and I ALMOST didn't re-read it... and that would have been tragic.

East of Eden is an epic story about good and evil. It tells the story of two families: the Trasks and the Hamiltons. It spans 3 generations and retells the Biblical story of Cain and Abel set in the Salinas Valley of Northern California.

Dec 04, 2007 Lucy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: favorites
I finished this last night and afterwards, I lay back on my pillow extremely satisfied just thinking about it. It's so rare that I read something that delights me from beginning to end. While there were a few turns on the journey that confused me and seemed to take the book in a different direction, his connecting all the characters, the stories and do it with profound meaning is nothing short of brilliant. And to do it through his own person history, and one of the oldest stories of the Bible o...more
Jul 08, 2012 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Kata
Shelves: fiction, 2012, five-stars
I want to marry this book and have it's babies. I can't remember the last time I felt such a deep sense of satisfaction after finishing a book. Every part of it was a delicious page turning delight. This was pretty close to perfection and it's up there as one of my top ten favorite books.

Steinbeck weaves his tale amongst gorgeously saturated descriptions of the Salinas valley, a truly beautiful part of the country. It's such a sweepingly epic and engrossing read which has everything a wonderful...more
Dan Porter
My first encounter with Steinbeck was The Grapes of Wrath. I didn't enjoy the encounter. Had my first encounter been East of Eden, I most likely would have already read everything else he's written.

This is the the age-old story of the struggle between good and evil, but with an interesting twist. Steinbeck sees the coexistence of good and evil as necessary for the emergence of character or greatness. He lays the responsibility for that emergence squarely on the shoulders of the individual and sh...more
Feb 15, 2010 umang rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: christians
Shelves: loathsome
This is a long, long sermon masquerading as a novel. Its aim seems clear- to be the great American novel. In spite of, or maybe because of this overreach, it is completely unsatisfying. The characters are mere symbols. Most of the themes pertain to the characters’ moral dilemmas, but it is difficult to be drawn into these since the characters lack any real complexity. The men are various superlatives (greatest, kindest, wisest). There are two women characters, one evil and exaggerated to the poi...more

Before he started writing this novel, Steinbeck conceived of it as a gift for his sons. He wrote:
They are little boys now and they will never know what they came from through me, unless I tell them. It is not written for them to read now but when they are grown and the pains and joys have tousled them a little. And if the book is addressed to them, it is for good reason. I want them to know how it was, I want to tell them directly, and perhaps by speaking to them directly I shall speak directly
Greg Heaney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don't know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother's keeper?'

In the famed Biblical tale of Cain and Abel, the two brothers both make an offering to God. God likes Abel's offer, but not Cain's; out of jealousy, Cain slays Abel, and then is marked by God.

East of Eden is John Steinbeck's rather lengthy ode to that story. It follows two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons. It's the Trask family, though, that represents Cain and Abel, with two s...more
Back in high school, I was required to read Grapes of Wrath for summer reading. You know what's NOT fun for a moody teen during a scorching August heatwave? A depressing story about dry, parched earth and poor farmers toiling endlessly but still getting screwed.

And then there was my encounter with Of Mice and Men. Not with the book... but with the OPERA. Yet again, courtesy of my high school, trying to inculcate culture into our gum-snapping brains.
Just imagine: George, the mildly-retarded Lenn...more
Although I do like Steinbeck’s strong, simple style of writing, this book let me down. With this book Steinbeck is delivering a message to his readers. I do agree with the message imparted, but I dislike that it is pounded into us. It isn’t enough to draw the story of Cain and Abel in one generation of a family, but Steinbeck repeats the story in the next generation of the family too. The message becomes a rant. God blessed Cain with freewill. That is the message, and it is up to us to choose wh...more
Henry Avila
Adam Trask was a weak but kindly boy .And later man.His father treated him badly.His half brother, younger but stronger.Had hit him repeatedly .Barely surviving one brutal fight.Born in the middle of the American Civil War.In a Connecticut farm..He and his brother Charles. Are turned into good little soldiers. At a very tender age.Cyrus their father lost a leg, in the war.Boasting of being in every major battle(which is physically impossible).In fact. The private was only in a blue uniform six m...more
"I think this is the best-known story in the world because it is everybody's story. I think it is the symbol story of the human soul. ...The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt - and that is the story of mankind."

Before this, my only exposure t...more
You can't take it with you when you go. That's how the saying goes. Whether you do or do not believe in an afterlife it doesn't matter, I just want you to mull on something for a moment. Some religions and cultures believe you can and must have things in the after life (money, food, protection from evil spirits, etc.) If I could take objects with me when I go, books would be my singular necessity. East of Eden being a must-have to nourish my eternal soul.

East of Eden is a classic, dense in quot...more
Aug 08, 2007 Meghan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: 16 years of age or older
So, I'm going to take a stab at this...before I get too busy and before I forget what I've read -- and thought. (I've already moved on to another book...;-)

Overall, I thought this was a masterful piece of work - and realized this on the first page. I've glimpsed around a little bit on the internet and know that J.S. has received some criticism for this book (along with praise, too), but I didn't look too closely because I wanted my thoughts to be my own. I definitely saw/heard some pretty laudat...more
Nathan Rostron
A friend recommended this book to me as Steinbeck's best, and as a somewhat reluctant Steinbeck reader in the first place (I'd read Of Mice and Men in high school), I wasn't ecstatic to begin reading it--as I did at said friend's insistence. I will admit to a certain prideful stoicism in doing so--I felt like I was doing something supposedly "good for me," like avoiding trans fat or reading Beckett. But as I read I discovered that I liked it--Steinbeck had written an expansive, multigenerational...more
i been lovin' on this book REAL hard. don't know how else to put it, really. too many different directions for praise. i adore the characters in this story, even the chillingly evil ones. and i love the short little chapters that steinbeck just shoved in every once in a while in order to assert his musings on the state of america. or writers. or war. or life. here's probably my favorite chapter in the whole book--it's one of the few random times Steinbeck writes in second person:

"You can see how...more
Diane D.
5* isn't enough! John Steinbeck is the master of story weaving and creator of some of the most memorable characters! And he writes in such a way that the simplest of sentences can pack so much emotion, it's amazing to me. 601 pages and I'm left wanting more.

There are characters I loved and characters I loathed, and I think that everyone who has read this book would agree. Yet even the hardest and most evil of all can reach a breaking point (view spoiler)...more
I have read this book at least ten times. It is one of my favorties of all time. Steinbeck's tendency to digress with scrillosophical passages that are in no way (?) connected to the story being told is probably the most egotistical and easily critiqued feature of his style of writing. It also accounts for some of my favorite passages.

"The spring flowers in a wet year were unbelievable. The whole valley floor, and the foothills too, would be covered with lupin and poppies. Once a woman told me t...more
John Steinbeck conceived East of Eden as a gift to his two young sons - Thomas and John. I am choosing to write this book to my sons, he wrote to his friend and editor, Pascal Covici, They are little boys now and they will never know what they came from through me, unless I tell them. It is not written for them to read now but when they are grown and the pains and joys have tousled them a little. And if the book is addressed to them, it is for a good reason. I want them to know how it was, I wan...more
Taylor K.
This is the kind of book that made me realize why I need Goodreads, and why I wanted to be active on the site again.

Reading East of Eden, I had so many thoughts and so many feeeeeeelings and I had nowhere to put them, except scribbled pages in notebooks and texts to my friend who I borrowed it from and loving in it that way that I went around to everyone I knew, and told everyone who saw me reading it, that they really needed to pick it up because it's "just so good." I wasn't able to put it mo...more
This books jumps to the top of my list for being an all time favorite. I was so skeptical picking it up, because I just hated Grapes of Wrath and assumed all of Steinbeck's work must be politically charged. But I found this to be a gripping page turner full of an authentic desire to seek and understand not only other people but our own motivations and the age old question "what am I here for?" So many layers of complexity to this novel, I think I'll be revisiting it in my mind over and over, pee...more
I must depend on hearsay, on old photographs, on stories told, and on memories which are hazy and mixed with fable …
John Steinbeck East of Eden


References are given in the form (page/chapter), the page number being that of the Penguin Steinbeck Centennial Edition of 2002. For example, the above quote is at (8/2). A chapter shown as “26[2]” means the second section of chapter 26. The first section of that chapter is shown as simply “26”.

Any quotes without a reference should be close to th...more
I literally could not put this down. Loose biblical parables have been around forever in literature, but what makes this so great is that it never just cops out by reducing down to one. Maybe the characters are fated or whatever, but they're also among the strongest characters he's written. Who wouldn't want to sit down for a beer with someone like Sam Hamilton or Lee? Who wouldn't want to claw out Cathy Ames's eyes? Who wouldn't want to offer some kind of reassurance to someone like Caleb Trask...more
East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a wonderful read.

I believe that Steinbeck wrote this book for his sons Thorn and John who were just small boys when it was written. Steinbeck hoped that as they grew up the novel would show them their roots in California’s Salinas Valley and guide them through their lives . What a wonderful book with just about all the elements a good story needs, we have father son relationships, and sibling rivalry, murder, greed, sex, love and lust and throughout all this we...more
David Clark
Oddly, I recently read East of Eden while running a medical clinic in the mountains of Guatemala. Without other electronic distractions and inhibited by my abysmal Spanish, the evenings were free to consume this “massive” tome in large chunks. A novel consumed over a short time is a rare treat indeed in these harried multi-tasking times. I confess to burning through the pages until the wee hours of the night; John Steinbeck’s self-proclaimed attempt at an “American classic” simply took me in.

I m...more
This epic saga is like a giant paint-by-numbers picture. You know the basic outline from the start (Cain and Abel in the Garden of Eden). Then you see the colors fill in, with the light and dark hues (good and evil) starkly contrasted. The canvas in this case is big, and when you take a few steps back to consider the whole, you realize there’s plenty for the eye to take in. The colors are vivid, coming from all parts of the palate. You also notice, stepping in closer again, that certain sections...more
Even after a BA in English, the only Steinbeck I'd ever read was "Of Mice and Men" and really didn't like it. I read this on a friend's recommendation and WOW! Let's hear it for a modern-day classic! Besides the increcibly beautiful writing, this book has given me a lot to think about, both during and after reading. I've mostly been thinking of how many times a day, all through the years, we choose between good and evil, even in its lesser forms. East of Eden was a powerful story of where those...more
I think that no literary character has ever so terrified me as Cathy Ames. This book troubled me while I was reading it, and it troubles me still now that I'm through.

I'd like to say that I liked the book, and in many ways I did--the plot, characters, narrational commentary, and general development were all compelling and fascinating to a very high degree. Yet I can't help but feel like reading this book and gazing into the soul (or lack thereof) of Cathy Ames ultimately had a net negative impa...more
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley...more
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath The Pearl Cannery Row Travels with Charley: In Search of America

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“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” 2129 likes
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