Dominic's Reviews > East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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Jun 10, 11

bookshelves: classic-literature
Read from May 10 to June 03, 2011

I admitted to a friend a couple of days ago that I just might be "a big Steinbeck fan." Sure, I'm not crazy about Of Mice and Men and I don't even remember what The Pearl was about (even though I know I read it), but hell, The Grapes of Wrath is one of the most beautiful American novels, even as it is also one of the most heart-wrenching. And now I can add East of Eden to the list of memorable American epics. And once again, just as it full of tender tragedy, it is a simply lovely story.

Steinbeck's writing is solid, sure and strong here. While the parallels to Biblical narratives are obvious, Eden becomes a sort of Bible in and of itself. While I can see some readers finding Steinbeck a bit didactic (as some criticize likewise consider Grapes), I personally loved reading the philosophical musings of Adam, Samuel and, especially, Lee. In a sense, they are trying to write out their own concept of humanity, of good and evil, of meaning-making and living a fulfilling life, in their own limited and flawed way. All three of these men, along with Adam's son Cal, made up an entourage of characters I easily sympathized with and even loved. Maybe this was one of the reasons I found Kate so nasty and reprehensible. And I agree with those readers who call her one of the great villains of American literature; disturbed (and disturbing) as she was, I was still pretty fascinated with her.

While East of Eden is clearly a book about the nature of good and evil, it is more so--at least for me--a book about fathers and sons (or parents and children). Cal's desire for Adam's acceptance and love (and likewise Aron's issues with Kate) is, for me, the crucial conflict, and I ultimately found this book to be incredibly intimate despite the multigenerational narration and the broad, sweeping point-of-view.
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05/22/2011 page 182
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Demisty Bellinger I simply love this book, but I'm a big Steinbeck fan. Last I heard, there was supposed to be a new movie version of this book, which makes sense since it's so cinematic. I still haven't seen the one with James Dean.


message 2: by Mark (new)

Mark Bratkowski My twin brother is a big Steinbeck fan. For me, Steinbeck is hit or miss. I recently finished reading "Of Mice and Men" for the first time. It was good, but I can't say it lived up to what I had built it up to be. I think that his use of description is great and that his story lines are engaging, but I always feel like I have missed something big when I finish reading one of his novels.


Dominic I'm not a fan of Of Mice and Men either. But both this one and Grapes of Wrath are so big in scope, so big of heart, so frickin' human that I think I may now have to call myself a big Steinbeck fan, too.


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