Peter Boysen's Reviews > East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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Jan 20, 12

Read in June, 1995

"East of Eden" is my favorite Steinbeck novel. The powerful narrative of the Joads burns deeper in the American psyche as a reminder of the harshness of poverty in a society without a safety net, and the tale of George and Lennie is an unforgettable tale of friendship and compassion, ultimately.

The story of the Hamilton family, though, is every bit as powerful as Aeschylus and Sophocles in transmitting the powerful message of tragedy, specifically, the unending battle between intentions and instinct, between rage and remorse. It poisons generation after generation, leads to repentance, but only resurfaces its ugly head again, when we least expect it. Steinbeck adds the harsh realism that pervades the writing of the Old Testament in his descriptions of the allusively named Aron and Cal.

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