Lisa's Reviews > East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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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 remains the villain with whom I compare all other literary villains. And yet, she fascinated me, she was like a snake hypnotising a mouse, and she merged the mythical ideas of Eve and the serpent into one powerful person - destructive and beautiful, exciting and dangerous.

Yet despite the biblical references which dominate the narrative, the monumental family saga has more resemblance with a Greek tragedy than with a Christian tale: facing the shame of failure, most characters choose to exit the stage rather than gaining redemption through suffering. Their lifeline is the freedom of CHOICE, not dogmatic obedience:

"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about."

Of all the books I don't have time to reread, this is the one that is tempting me most - like a snake-Eve pointing towards a shiny apple - this is where you will find the knowledge of good and evil, and it is your choice if you read it or not!

It will make you shiver - with fear and admiration for the human imagination!
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 25, 2014 – Shelved
August 10, 2014 – Shelved as: nobels
August 10, 2014 – Shelved as: 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die
February 7, 2018 – Shelved as: favorites
February 7, 2018 – Shelved as: havanas-en-masse
February 7, 2018 – Shelved as: monster-mash-of-a-mess
February 7, 2018 – Shelved as: so-good-it-hurts
February 7, 2018 – Shelved as: unforgettable

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

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Steven Godin One of my favourite American novels Lisa. Must read again. His writing here was just, wow!.


Julie Yes! Yes! Yes!


Jacob Overmark So Lisa, I´m glad you enjoyed it, there will be many more to come. Being you, you will appreciate that Steinbeck did not want the local school he attended to be named after him, stating that school never served him any good purpose ;-)


Lisa Steven wrote: "One of my favourite American novels Lisa. Must read again. His writing here was just, wow!."

Steinbeck never disappoints, but this was an early love, so it is even closer to my heart than the others. Exception made for... eh... all the
other Steinbecks.


message 5: by Antje (new)

Antje Deine Rezension bestärkt mich darin, dieses Buch auf meine 2018-zu-lesen-Liste zu setzen, zumal ich Steinbeck bisher gerne las.


Lisa Jacob wrote: "So Lisa, I´m glad you enjoyed it, there will be many more to come. Being you, you will appreciate that Steinbeck did not want the local school he attended to be named after him, stating that school..."

Ha! I love that attitude in Steinbeck. So much humour (and anger) in him. But I would love to teach in a school named after him :-)


Jacob Overmark Lisa wrote: "Jacob wrote: "So Lisa, I´m glad you enjoyed it, there will be many more to come. Being you, you will appreciate that Steinbeck did not want the local school he attended to be named after him, stati..."
Actually there is a John E. Steinbeck Elementary in Salinas, I guess Steinbeck would turn in his grave ...


Lisa Antje wrote: "Deine Rezension bestärkt mich darin, dieses Buch auf meine 2018-zu-lesen-Liste zu setzen, zumal ich Steinbeck bisher gerne las."

Ja, alles, was ich von ihm gelesen habe, ist wunderschön und ergreifend!


Lisa Jacob wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Jacob wrote: "So Lisa, I´m glad you enjoyed it, there will be many more to come. Being you, you will appreciate that Steinbeck did not want the local school he attended to be named aft..."

I bet he would!


message 10: by Ilse (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ilse I loved this Lisa, great review!


message 11: by Lisa (last edited Feb 10, 2018 05:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa I think this is his greatest novel - although I just finished "Winter of Our Discontent" and loved it.


Terris Steinbeck is one of my very favorite authors!!


message 13: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Elliott I read this at least 50 years ago and scenes with the evil Kate are still vividly with me, along with many others from his works -a great C20 writer.


message 14: by Jaline (new) - added it

Jaline Thinking about it, I think this was my first John Steinbeck read, too, and why I loved his writing so much. Awesome review, Lisa - and one thing I want to do in the next few years is re-read everything I can find by John Steinbeck! 😊


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Ilse wrote: "I loved this Lisa, great review!"

Thank you, Ilse! East of Eden seems to be a universal favourite among us.


message 16: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala I have a preference for short reviews because I can read them fast and move on but sometimes I prefer a longer review because it leaves me with something to chew on.
Your reviews are the perfect compromise, Lisa - always short and always chewy!


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Lisa wrote: "I think his greatest novel - although I just finished "Winter of Our Discontent" and loved it."

Steinbeck is always at his best maybe, Lisa? He just puts his heart into his storytelling each time, and it shows!


message 18: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Terris wrote: "Steinbeck is one of my very favorite authors!!"

So pleased to hear that, Terris!


message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Fionnuala wrote: "I have a preference for short reviews because I can read them fast and move on but sometimes I prefer a longer review because it leaves me with something to chew on.
Your reviews are the perfect c..."


I am the same, Fionnuala - I see the pros and cons of short and long reviews in exactly the same way, and my review writing tends to mirror my review reading preferences. Exception made for all those creative cases our GR friends come up with that don't match any description :-) There are reviews for all moods here.


message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Lyn wrote: "I read this at least 50 years ago and scenes with the evil Kate are still vividly with me, along with many others from his works -a great C20 writer."

It's twenty years since I encountered Kate, Lyn, amd she's alive and kicking in my memory too!


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Jaline wrote: "Thinking about it, I think this was my first John Steinbeck read, too, and why I loved his writing so much. Awesome review, Lisa - and one thing I want to do in the next few years is re-read everyt..."

Let's do it together, Jaline!


Michael EAST OF EDEN war auch das erste Buch von Steinbeck, das ich als Jugendlicher gelesen habe. Es stand bei meiner Mutter im überschaubaren Bücherregal, und ohne die Verfilmung hätte ich es wohl nicht zur Hand genommen. So aber gefiel es mir so gut, dass es nur das erste einer Reihe von Romanen war, die ich von JS las.
Vor einem Jahr lag in einem Ferienhaus in Dänemark eine englische Ausgabe von EoE herum, so kam es zu einem Wiederlesen.
Ich war von der Qualität überrascht, hätte nicht gedacht, wie stark der Roman auch heute noch auf mich wirkt.
Ich glaube, es ist seine alttestamentarische Qualität, die ihn so gewaltig macht.


message 23: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Michael wrote: "EAST OF EDEN war auch das erste Buch von Steinbeck, das ich als Jugendlicher gelesen habe. Es stand bei meiner Mutter im überschaubaren Bücherregal, und ohne die Verfilmung hätte ich es wohl nicht ..."

Freut mich, dass es bei dir auch den Test der Zeit ueberstanden hat, Michael! Ich bin ganz deiner Meinung - es ist von mythischer Gewalt, und das macht es zeitlos.


message 24: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Julie wrote: "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

:-)


message 25: by Jaline (new) - added it

Jaline Lisa wrote: "Let's do it together, Jaline! "

That would be so much fun, Lisa! 😊


Renee Kahl Unfortunately, not everything he wrote is this good.


message 27: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Renee wrote: "Unfortunately, not everything he wrote is this good."

I have yet to find one of his novels disappointing. The Grapes of Wrath , Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday are among my most cherished possessions, but I liked his shorter fiction as well.


Beige What a review!!! It brought back the feeling I had when I read it. For some inexplicable reasons I only gave this 4 stars, I have just rectified this gross miscalculation.


message 29: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Beige wrote: "What a review!!! It brought back the feeling I had when I read it. For some inexplicable reasons I only gave this 4 stars, I have just rectified this gross miscalculation."

Isn't that the best praise you can give a book - to love it more after some time has passed? Thank you so much for your kind words, Beige!


Renee Kahl Lisa wrote: "Renee wrote: "Unfortunately, not everything he wrote is this good."

I have yet to find one of his novels disappointing. The Grapes of Wrath , Cannery Row and [book:Swee..."

I loathed Cannery Row--see my review. I did like East of Eden but it was over 20 yrs ago.


message 31: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Renee wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Renee wrote: "Unfortunately, not everything he wrote is this good."

I have yet to find one of his novels disappointing. The Grapes of Wrath , Cannery Row a..."


I can see that Mack and the boys are hard to warm to, but I couldn't help finding them refreshingly kind and undogmatic in their approach to personal joie de vivre. In a world that worships money and celebrates hypocrisy, they seem just lovable, I thought.


message 32: by Jim (new)

Jim Fonseca I need to read some Steinbeck! I haven't since I was in college.


message 33: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Jim wrote: "I need to read some Steinbeck! I haven't since I was in college."

I never tire of his voice - and I am sure you won't be disappointed either!


Marialyce Rereading this one this year. It was so wonderful. Glad you loved it, Lisa.


message 35: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Marialyce wrote: "Rereading this one this year. It was so wonderful. Glad you loved it, Lisa."

It is an incredible reading journey for sure, well worth rereading!


message 36: by Emma (new) - added it

Emma This is one of my favourite books of all time. I have read the Grapes of Wrath too, but it's not a patch on East of Eden. I may go back and re-read it as it's many years since I read it. Thanks for the reminder.


Renee Kahl Lisa wrote: "Renee wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Renee wrote: "Unfortunately, not everything he wrote is this good."

I have yet to find one of his novels disappointing. The Grapes of Wrath , [book:Canne..."


Did you look at my review of Cannery Row? That wasn't what I was saying.


message 38: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Emma wrote: "This is one of my favourite books of all time. I have read the Grapes of Wrath too, but it's not a patch on East of Eden. I may go back and re-read it as it's many years since I read it. Thanks for..."

I can never make up my mind which one of Steinbeck's novelsI love most. It depends on my mood more than anything. But this was one of those reading experiences during my adolescence that formed me as a reader, and that is a cherished memory in itself. I can almostrecall the physical sensation of my fear of Cathy...


message 39: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda Great review Lisa, think this is one I need to re-read, read in my twenties....so know it will mean something different now!


message 40: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Linda wrote: "Great review Lisa, think this is one I need to re-read, read in my twenties....so know it will mean something different now!"

That's a true sign of a great book, Linda - it follows us through different phases in life!


Cheri Terrific review, Lisa, I know I want to, need to re-read this again, and I keep saying 'someday' but haven't made it back to this one, yet. I read this the first time in school, in class, with constant complaining going on by my classmates. I look forward to a more peaceful read of this!


message 42: by LaDonna (new) - added it

LaDonna Awesome review, Lisa!!! I'm not a fan of Steinbeck. I never wanted to read any of his works, until now. Your review has definitely peaked my interests.


message 43: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Cheri wrote: "Terrific review, Lisa, I know I want to, need to re-read this again, and I keep saying 'someday' but haven't made it back to this one, yet. I read this the first time in school, in class, with cons..."

Oh I know that kind of disturbance! It's a miracle I ever tried Steinbeck at all after the painful chorus of frustration in whixh I tried to make sense of the rural dialects in Of Mice and Men. It was short, though, so my classmates didn't have a lasting impact on my curiosity ;-)


message 44: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Ansbro I used to devour Steinbeck novels in my early/mid teens, Lisa, and I loved that you equated this to a Greek tragedy. So percipient!


message 45: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Kevin wrote: "I used to devour Steinbeck novels in my early/mid teens, Lisa, and I loved that you equated this to a Greek tragedy. So percipient!"

Happy to hear you are part of the Steinbeck tribe, Kevin! We seem to hide in this corner of GR!


message 46: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa LaDonna wrote: "Awesome review, Lisa!!! I'm not a fan of Steinbeck. I never wanted to read any of his works, until now. Your review has definitely peaked my interests."

Thank you, LaDonna! I hope you will have a pleasant surprise if you ever try Steinbeck!


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