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East of Eden (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

John Steinbeck , David Wyatt
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Set in the rich farmland of the Salinas Valley, California, this powerful, often brutal novel, follows the interwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations hopelessly re-enact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of indentity; the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence.

Contains an introduction by David Wyatt, as well as suggestions for further reading of acclaimed criticisms and references.

Product Description


A fantasia of history and myth (The New York Times Book Review)


A novel from the author of THE GRAPES OF WRATH and OF MICE AND MEN, in which the wife of an ill-used drifter abandons him and his sons in order to run an infamous brothel. The family becomes consumed by a bitter struggle involving adultery and murder.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1716 KB
  • Print Length: 620 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (7 Sept. 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9K5Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,788 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey's paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled 'Something That Happened'. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck's compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a "great work" and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family's history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steinbeck's best 23 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
East of Eden, one of Steinbeck's last and longest books, is an incredible retelling of both the Fall of Man and the story of Cain and Abel, but to describe it simply as this would be to limit it. As in his other works, Steinbeck's love of the American country is evident throughout the book, from the first chapter celebrating the beauty of the Salinas valley (the scene for most of the book's action) to the end. Though the story is of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, the Hamiltons quickly take a back seat. The first half of the book studies the first generation of Trasks - the father Cyrus and sons Adam and Charles, and then in the second turns to Adam's own family - his wife Cathy (described by Steinbeck as a 'monster) and sons Aron and Cal. The allegory is beautiful, the characters original and totally believable, and, if the religious tie-ins are a bit heavy-handed they are still thought provoking and elegantly written. I think this is a great book for someone who has never read Steinbeck before (it's much easier to get into than 'the Grapes of Wrath') and you could do worse than check out the Elia Kazan movie version, with James Dean as Cal.
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91 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East of Eden 1 Aug. 2005
I cannot seem to put down in words the depth and power of the effect that this book had on me. I have read many a book which I would put in a list of favourites or best-evers but I can undoubtedly say that this is the best and most stunning book I have ever read, and am likely to read. I picked it up and it swallowed me whole - laid against a background of America during the immense social and technological evolution between civil and world wars (it is as much an interesting education in the effects of such historical events in the small town Deep South) is a story so intricate and beautiful, at once tender and brutal, that manages to go through every single aspect of human life and experience - from birth to death, inherent evil and good, and the battle of personal morality. This is a true epic, in sheer size and scope as in the freshness of the stunning lyrical style. I was both elated and devastated, and hated having to finish it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 23 Feb. 2005
It is often for someone to come across great reads that actually changes the person's life. Reading Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" and John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" had a profound influence on me. There was so much to learn from those stories since they were so complete in treating humanity. In fact, these are deep, insightful and inspirational books that one can not easily throw aside after one has finished. These major classics are books to ponder about, books for us to think and reflect over and over. If you haven't read this great piece of American literature, then I suggest that you do so.

I also recommend: Union Moujik, Anna Karenina and Disciples of Fortune-these are two other classic works.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really hits the spot 5 Mar. 2008
You know those phases you go through when the novels you read are enjoyable enough at the time but a few days later you've more or less forgotten them? I was going through one of those phases and moaned about it to the lady at the library desk. She asked if I had read much Steinbeck. I replied that I had read a few at secondary school, some 35 years ago.

And so I borrowed East of Eden on her recommendation, and absolutely loved it. It's a huge, chunky, sprawling, messy epic (which incidentally is not as popular with U.S Amazon reviewers as it is here) spanning generations. Other reviewers have outlined the plot so I won't repeat it. I know part of the novel was made into a film, but I think it would make a wonderful, lengthy, slightly soapy TV drama series. It has that feel to it.

Steinbeck's writing style has been criticised, and it is true that in places it feels rather clumsy and laboured. On the other hand, in places it is elegant and poetic, especially in the descriptions of nature. However, for me, the power of Steinbeck's storytelling abilities and vivid characterisation more than compensated for any faults in the quality of the writing.

It's the perfect antidote to flimsy, insubstantial novels and writing and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
East of Eden is an epic, powerful book of hope, despair, suffering and permission for humanity to fulfill it's potential. This may sound dramatic but East of Eden is one of the most thoughtful books I have ever read. The level of depth that is so subtly put into the book has a profound impact on the reader: the idiosyncraties of life, which we so often take for being individual to ourselves are really vividly shown to be universal. The book isn't so much a novel but a treatise on human nature and a philosophy for life. This is a big claim so I'll try and justify it. But really, this is a book that needs to be experienced rather than read so any review is only a shallow representation.

It takes a novelist of Steinbeck's skill to pull the deep philosophising off in a non-condensending or patronising manner. Yet, he handles the book beautifully, the philosophy comes from two very strong and intriging characters, Samuel and Lee, both outsiders beloved by those close to them who are able to advise the other characters and, by proxy, the reader too. Through these characters' strong voices, the other actors are guided through their lives, the stregth of hope that they give out is the difference between life and death for some characters. The ideas of the book are obvious when read but stay with the reader and offer a simple approach to a lives beset by complications - put simply, you may do what you want in life, you learn for yourself and although help and strength may be offered by other people, ultimately you are responsible for your own life. And for whether you are satisfied when death takes you.
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