East of Eden

East of Eden

Book - 1992
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A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America's most enduring authors

A Penguin Classic

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 Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

The masterpiece of Steinbeck's later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence. Adapted for the 1955 film directed by Elia Kazan introducing James Dean and read by thousands as the book that brought Oprah's Book Club back, East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.

This edition features an introduction by David Wyatt.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 1992.
ISBN: 9780140186390
Branch Call Number: STEI
Characteristics: xxx, 602 p. ; 20 cm.


From the critics

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May 21, 2021

I'm not that big into Steinbeck, but this is one of the best and most rewarding novels I have ever read. I felt as though I really got to know the people within the pages and the biblical level scale of the drama was so engrossing.

Apr 06, 2021

East of Eden has everything- sex, violence, betrayal- within a truly transporting turn of the century California setting, and all with an epic scope. It’s never boring and I was truly blown away by how much I enjoyed it.

Dec 28, 2020

I have listened to about 500 books and of read many as well. This is my favorite of all. It makes you feel human!

Sep 09, 2020

East of Eden is a fictional novel about the Hamilton and Trask families in central California in the Salinas Valley. Steinbeck used some of his family members as characters in this book. Samuel Hamilton, patriarch of the Hamilton family was a gentle, wise, and honest man. In contrast, Cyrus Trask, patriarch of the Trask family was a sinful man whose success came from deceits and his fortune was likely money he had stolen from the government. Cyrus’s son Adam married the evil Cathy Ames. On their wedding might, she drugged Adam and slept with his brother Charles. Adam and Cathy moved to Salinas and settled near the Hamilton farm. Soon after, Cathy gave birth to twin boys leaving the reader wonder if Adam or his brother was the father. Cathy had no intention of being a wife and a mother so she left to become a prostitute. From here, the story takes the reader through the lives of the twins, Caleb and Aron. Steinbeck used the biblical story of Cain and Able, the good and the bad, to compare the lives of Caleb and Aron.

This book is a masterpiece. Steinbeck was an awesome storyteller. I appreciate the theme of good vs evil. The book talks about “timshel”, meaning one’s free will to choose. In the book, Steinbeck suggested that sin is not an inherited trait. People do bad things because they chose to not because they inherited evilness. Similarly in the bible, Cain chose to kill Abel. I cannot think of one bad thing to say about this brilliantly written book.

Jul 02, 2020

I like the way Steinbeck writes. His development of the characters is good. I really liked the saga of the families.

Jun 23, 2020

East of Eden, written by renowned author John Steinbeck revolves around the lives of three generations of two interwoven families, better known as the Trasks and the Hamiltons. The Trasks, which consist of Cyrus and Alice and their two sons Charles and Adam live a life that reflects the biblical story of Adam and Eve’s sons Cain and Abel, and how the two are such polar opposites that they eventually begin to have an impact on each other’s lives, with Cain representing evil, and Abel representing good. This story eventually passes on and reflects the relationship between Adam’s twin sons Caleb “Cal” and Aron. One thing I liked about the book in particular is that the novel shows the significance of identity, and the demonstrations of appearance versus reality. This is evident in the life of the Hamilton family patriarch Samuel “Sam” Hamilton who is from Ireland, in which being an Irishman wasn’t well-acclaimed in America at the time, and the Trask family’s servant Lee being Chinese-American, which makes it difficult for him to conform to the American expectations of broken, accented English. Although it helps describe the setting of the novel, it was difficult to read through the tiny details of the environment of the Salinas Valley in my opinion. Overall, the novel was very moving to me, and made me very emotional as I read more of the chapters.

May 13, 2020

East of Eden is a novel by John Steinbeck, who is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Touching upon complex themes such as the everlasting cycle of sin, the twisting roots of parent-children relationships, and the capacity of a human soul for evil, East of Eden is a thought-provoking and lyrically written work.
While the story may seem fragmented with its different settings at first, the characters’ tales eventually twist together. Samuel Hamilton is an honest, open-hearted farmer establishing a family in the sere land of Salinas Valley, California. Adam Trask is a mild young man haunted by his childhood with a dishonest father and an abusive brother. Cathy Ames possesses a warped “monster” of a soul, packaged by a pretty face. John Steinbeck himself, the narrator, grows up with his sister Mary as a minor character.
The flowing narrative, paired with vivid portrayals of scenery and characters, make East of Eden an appealing and satisfying read despite the heavy questions it ponders. East of Eden is a true masterpiece that successfully portrays the mysteries within the cycle of humanity.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
@StarRead of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Feb 06, 2020

Interesting likeable book.
Steinbeck descriptions of scenery and the time period flow with color and life.
Two or three dry spots but we'll worth the read.

Jan 28, 2020

Not the greatest book ever written.. perhaps my expectations were too high because of all the glowing reviews. Long and wordy. Slow. So many of the characters had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, perhaps well developed, but not endearing by any stretch. A few remarkable characters, but the overall plot moved at a glacial speed. This is a book to read in a classroom setting to dissect it as you go. There's a lot in the book to further explore and research, but that's not what I was looking for at this moment in time. I'm going to watch the movie, but my expectations have been lowered quite a bit.

Dec 01, 2019

Oprah top ten (probably 2000-2010 list??)
Books That Made a Difference to Oprah
For someone who describes herself as "inspired, challenged, and sustained" by books, it was almost impossible for Oprah to stay within our limit of 10. Here are her picks, but she emphasized that it was only a sampler of delightful titles that have also managed to teach her—and all of us—a few things.

Starting with...

Discover the Power Within You
By Eric Butterworth
256 pages; HarperOne

Advice from the internationally known spiritual teacher.

Oprah's next pick: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth
By Eckhart Tolle
316 pages; Plume

There's a reason Oprah picked this for her Book Club in 2008—and that she gave audience members Post-it pens along with their copies. So much wisdom, so little time! A real-life guide to living your best life.

Oprah's next pick: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver
576 pages; Harper Perennial

This novel is about a family embroiled in the political turmoil of postcolonial Africa. It established Kingsolver as one of our wisest observers of history, politics, and human nature.

Oprah's next pick: Night by Elie Wiesel
Night by Elie Wiesel

By Elie Wiesel
120 pages; Hill and Wang

A memoir of a childhood suffered in concentration camps during the Holocaust. It's horrific but uplifting. "I gain courage from his courage," Oprah says.

Oprah's next pick: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance
By Rohinton Mistry
624 pages; Vintage

A Dickensian novel about India during the Emergency. Like the aftermath of September 11, it teaches us about cultures we haven't understood. "It takes us out of our own little shell and exposes us to a whole other world out there," Oprah says.

Oprah's next pick: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden
By John Steinbeck
608 pages; Penguin

This classic is about good and evil as played out in a late-19th-century California ranch family. If you didn't read it in high school, read it now. If you did, reread it!

Oprah's next pick: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
By David Wroblewski
576 pages; HarperCollins

A kind of Hamlet on the prairie, this is the wrenching story of a mute boy and his dog. Oprah compares it to East of Eden and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Oprah's next pick: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth
By Ken Follett
973 pages; Penguin

About the challenges of building cathedrals in 12th-century England, this novel couldn't be more different in setting, time, and plot from the author's breakthrough success, Eye of the Needle. Oprah declares it simply "great."

Oprah's next pick: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye
By Toni Morrison
224 pages; Penguin

How to choose among the great Morrison's novels? Start with this one about a girl who thinks she has to have blue eyes to be beautiful. Oprah considers it one of the best in a crowded Morrison field.

Oprah's next pick: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
The Known World by Edward P. Jones

The Known World
By Edward P. Jones
400 pages; HarperCollins

When this book was published in 2003, it shocked everybody with its depiction of slave-owning blacks before the Civil War. A daring, unusual examination of race.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/oprahs-favorite-books-from-the-past-decade/all#ixzz66sODP

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Jul 29, 2019

We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immoral. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.

Jul 29, 2019

When a child first catches adults out–when it first walks into his grave little heads that adults do not have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just—his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone.

Jul 29, 2019

You can boast about anything if it's all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.

Laura_X Feb 22, 2019

In March the soft rains continued, and each storm waited courteously until its predecessor sunk beneath the ground.

Jan 25, 2019

“All great and precious things are lonely.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Sep 05, 2016

"And she picked her words as one picks flowers in a mixed garden and took her time choosing."

Sep 05, 2016

“…Samuel rode lightly on top of a book and he balanced happily among ideas the way a man rides white rapids in a canoe. But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands.”

cals_Leah Oct 05, 2015

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”

Apr 16, 2013

"I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe."

Oct 06, 2012

If you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.

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Sep 09, 2020

Sean_Exon thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 23, 2020

jazminefinuliar04 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Mar 12, 2011

angrytoast thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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lilybelle Jul 29, 2008

A classic. Multi-generational epic about love, siblings and the battle of good and evil. Set in Salinas, California it is a retelling of the Book of Genesis


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