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East of Eden

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  421,912 ratings  ·  19,078 reviews
In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. 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 A ...more
Paperback, Steinbeck Centennial Edition (US / CAN), 601 pages
Published 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 1952)
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Car6l Snyder I don't believe the story is meant to sympathize with sin at all only to bring a greater understanding to the innocence and good intentions that often…moreI don't believe the story is meant to sympathize with sin at all only to bring a greater understanding to the innocence and good intentions that often spawn sin. I also don't believe that the book is making any sort of statement as to who can and cannot judge, only that we have been granted the great and awful task of making all of our own judgement calls. All the mistakes and triumphs we create are our own.(less)
Sophie Romero de torres If you loved the movie you should enjoy the book even more. I was highly disappointed by the movie that only tells.... the last part of the book ! Ste…moreIf you loved the movie you should enjoy the book even more. I was highly disappointed by the movie that only tells.... the last part of the book ! Steinbeck wrote about 400 pages before telling us about Aaron & Caleb adulthood. So YES, definitely, give the book a chance ! (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  421,912 ratings  ·  19,078 reviews

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Emily May
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, classics
“All great and precious things are lonely.”

Such an amazing book. An instant all time favourite.

I'm sure you've heard of this book. Often touted as one of the "greatest novels of all time" or "books you must read before you die". For some reason, I've been putting it off. Maybe because I was made to study Of Mice and Men to death in school, or maybe because I thought The Grapes of Wrath was a little overrated. But I've been missing out.

A closer look should have told me that. Because I love fa
Apr 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any American lit fan
Shelves: to-reread, favorites
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
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very easy for me to rate this book 5 stars. It is amazing. There is so much in it and it is not hard to read. It just tells it like it is and does it so well.

It is like a high priced, high quality buffet with lots of different stations. At each of those stations is a main table with an awesome featured food (thick cut prime rib, chocolate fondue fountain, Mongolian BBQ bowl, etc.). In layman's terms, there is SO MUCH awesome story here with a HUGE payoff every 50 pages or so. I am very satisfied
Jul 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, overrated
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
Henry Avila
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adam Trask was a weak but kind boy and later man, his father treated him quite badly even his jealous, sadistic half- brother younger but stronger hit him repeatedly , barely surviving one brutal vicious fight. Born in the middle of the American Civil War, in a Connecticut farm he and 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 ...more
Luca Ambrosino
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
English (East of Eden) / Italiano

«The Salinas Valley is in Northern California. It is a long narrow swale between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into Monterey Bay»

"East of Eden" is a powerful novel, thick with biblical reference, in which the characters seem real and not fictional, protagonists of a generational saga about good and evil. About pure hatrded and unconditional love. You will love all the characters of the novel,

I have no words to describe what this novel did to my reading self!

It was my first Steinbeck, and it made me fall in love with his writing, his ideas, his cry for individual freedom and social justice. It made me ache for goodness in a world of evil, and it made me respect the power of storytelling to explain the inexplicable difficulties of family life.

It was the first time I felt scared of a fictional character!

I don't think I have ever been so deeply shaken as by Cathy/Kate, and she remai
Michael Finocchiaro
Steinbeck's classic East of Eden is a masterpiece and one of his finest books. It tells the history of Steinbeck's own family, the Hamiltons, and that of the Trask family. The epic is set in Steinbeck's native Salinas Valley in California and the beauty of the region is described in endless, passionate detail.
The characters are all beautifully drawn and the story is captivating.

I'll add some quotes here before returning the book to the library, but it was extremely pleasurable to read cover to
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thou mayest
East of Eden is a uniquely fragmented hotchpotch. A fantastical fable, a retelling of the biblical tale of the original sin, a documented testimony of early settlers in the Salinas Valley through the perspective of three generations, a fictionalized biography of Steinbeck’s own grandfather, a subversive political text, an essay that blends modern philosophy with ancient wisdom.
It’s probable that Steinbeck’s ambitious scope and his need to reach universal meaning might encumber the narration with
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
An amazing book! East of Eden, a 1952 novel by John Steinbeck, is a long, sprawling, sometimes slow but often very intense read. Steinbeck considered it his magnum opus. It begins at the turn of the century in Connecticut, telling about the difficult childhood of Adam Trask and the pains and troubles caused him by his half-brother Charles. Adam meets and marries Cathy Ames, whom he blindly loves, but who is a truly evil, completely self-centered woman at heart.

They move out to the Salinas Valle
Ahmad Sharabiani
East of Eden, John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)
East of Eden is a novel by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, published in September 1952. Often described as Steinbeck's most ambitious novel, East of Eden brings to life the intricate details of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, and their interwoven stories. The novel was originally addressed to Steinbeck's young sons, Thom and John (then 6½ and 4½ years old, respectively). Steinbeck wanted to describe the Salinas Valley for them in detail: t
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm ashamed that it took me four months to write up this review, but I just couldn't find the right words to describe how I feel about this phenomenal book. Because it was absolute perfection!

I did watch the movie adaption first (ages ago) and loved it, and it has a very special place in my heart because it started off my obsession with James Dean (who I now call my favorite person of all time, so yeah, it's a pretty big deal to me). I've been wanting to read the book ever since, but I was a bit
Adam Dalva
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A magic book, an everything book, both like and unlike everything else Steinbeck wrote. I can never quite manage to stop reading it - the naming scene and the ending are about as good as writing can get.
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

Alright friends, here's the dealio.

When I read this book, lots of things in my personal life were a hectic. When I finished this book, things were still hectic. I'm writing this now, and things are still a little hectic, but slowly they are leveling out (so no worries.)

The thing is, because of all that hectic, I did not document my thoughts about this book the way I normally would do. I also made the fatal mistake of waiting far too long to sit down & write my review upo
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Wow! I just don't know how to express the overwhelming power of this inspirational story! It is one of those novels that really isn't over when you finish reading it as it stays with you inside your head and heart forever. There is so much to ponder: Just a simple question like, "What am I here for?" or to feel the story of Cain and Abel come to life; and gosh, I don't think I will ever forget the meaning of the Hebrew word Timshel (thou mayest) a very important symbol in this book meaning we ha ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this first when I was at university and I loved it.
I read this again now as a 30-year-old avid reader who has become much more critical when it comes to books.
I’m happy to say that while this was a bumpy revisit, “East of Eden” remains one of my favourite books!
This novel is about inheritage and how hard it sometimes is to develop away from your inheritage. What makes you good? What makes you bad? And do some of us contain more of one or the other? Those are some of the questions that C
Samra Yusuf
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Those who are hurt most have the tremendous ability to heal, but what if a bruised heart defies to heal and turns indifferent by the time, what if a hand castoff once never advances again, what if a child lulled fallaciously to sleep never believes in fairies again, what if Cain abandoned God who rejected his sacrifice and preferred Abel over him. God was rejected in exchange and rightly so!

East of Eden might be taken leisurely as the re-telling of biblical tale of original sin, or a family biog
Jan 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Natalia Yaneva
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bulgarian review below/Ревюто на български е по-долу
Human life is a repetition. It repeats the lives of old and it repeats itself. Human life is also a spiral. Sometimes it seems we are walking in circles, but actually we’re getting ever so slightly closer to the center. We make mistakes that people smarter than us and people more stupid than us also made, but we continue moving towards our own centers. Everything that could ever be done has already been done, we only change it a bit and ada
Glenn Sumi
Classics are classics for a reason
I was too busy to write a proper review of this last year after I'd finished it, but let me try now. It's Steinbeck's epic look at two families – the Trasks and the Hamiltons – in the Salinas Valley, California setting of his own childhood. (Steinbeck himself is a minor character in the book.)

There are lots of biblical echoes: Cain and Abel; the sins of the father; etc.

What amazed me was how contemporary the book's language and insights felt. This is not some d
Johann (jobis89)
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

A modern retelling of the story of Cain and Abel, East of Eden brings to life the intricate details of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons.

No review I could ever write would do this book justice. I was almost tempted to just have my review as this simple statement: “if you haven’t read this, just do it.” But.... incase you haven’t noticed, I often have a lot to say.

Where to begin? I’ll start with Steinbeck’s writing. This was so
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stela-eða-láni
Fertile, Colorful Biblical Tale of Flawed Humanity
Beware the devil woman
She's gonna get you from behind

"Devil Woman," Cliff Richard, 1976

East of Eden, Steinbeck's apex of awe-inspiring talents, is his story based loosely on the tale of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. I cannot think of any more evil, morally-corrupt female in the entire canon of Western Literature than Cathy Ames.

Cathy Ames

Incredibly, I've seen negative ratings because Steinbeck painted a woman so grossly. Say what? What better compli
Elyse  Walters
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favorites
"And now that you don't have to be perfect you can be good."

This book is one of the masterpieces of literature. A story that will stand the test of time, with vivid, unforgettable characters that will haunt you long after you've closed the book. East of Eden is the story of life. It's a story about brotherhood, jealousy, anger, pain, love, evil, sacrifice, redemption. It's one of those books you want to thrust into the hands of your friends, family, neighbors, peers and shout, "Read this, it's g
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

It’s the Hebrew word meaning “thou mayest” and is the lynch pin concept that this glorious novel swirls around – basically, we as humans have the power to choose our paths in life, whether it’s to be good or evil or somewhere in between.

This isn’t the perfect book, but it’s sort of like a beautiful woman, who has a chip in her front tooth, the imperfection is there to heighten the beauty around it, not detract from it. Steinbeck has arguably never been better; the description (read:
On a side note, this is the 100th book I’ve reviewed this year, and I’m incredibly thankful that such a title fell onto a novel that mattered so much to me.

This was my first fully engaged experience with Steinbeck, and I was completely blown away. His prose was lovely in the way a desert is lovely; sparse but absolutely breathtaking in a certain slant of light. I read The Grapes of Wrath in college, but did so while reading 4 or 5 other classic chunky novels at the same time for various classes,
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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
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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

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