East of Eden

East of Eden

by John Steinbeck, David Wyatt
4.5 545

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East of Eden by John Steinbeck, David Wyatt

A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America’s most enduring authors, in a commemorative hardcover edition
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440631320
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/05/2002
Series: Steinbeck's Centennial Series
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 1,926
File size: 943 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the 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 laborer 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 laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.

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), 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).

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Date of Birth:

February 27, 1902

Date of Death:

December 20, 1968

Place of Birth:

Salinas, California

Place of Death:

New York, New York


Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925

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East Of Eden (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 545 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well-written book, a classic deemed worthy of reading. Steinbeck does a great job of making the piece of literature entertaining. I felt glued to the book many times because the plot would be wonderfully constructed, leading readers on an adventurous journey through the lives of the characters in the Salinas Valley.What surprised me the most were the characters in the story. Each individual character had his or her own unique personality. Each person seemed real and true to life. I would be going through the book and start saying to myself "oh this character reminds me of so and so." Plus, the characters are dynamic and many of their personalities are not at the extremes, but instead they have both the good qualities and bad qualities of mankind. I love how I can read into each character and judge him or her through his or her actions. The subtlety in revealing the motives behind each character was astonishing. The way Steinbeck depicted the characters through their dialogue and actions was overwhelming as I soon developed my personal opinion on each character. It made me feel like I was involved in the story itself.
Adding to the amazing characters is in intricate, well-developed story line. The plot was complex in that there were many subplots running through the main action. However, when I was reading, the complexity of the story did not hinder my progression because everything seemed to flow. The story was being pieced together in a rhythmic fashion as one event leads to another. The biblical allusion to Cain and Abel was also a fun thing to locate. After reading the story of Cain and Abel, I would go through the East of Eden and get excited when I would notice the similarity or the differences between East of Eden and the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Steinbeck truly does a fascinating job of weaving his story together. His work is fascinating and artful.
Although the book is rather long, the wonderful characters and amazing plot line makes up for it ten times over. I highly recommend this book to those who appreciate good writing that stays with you for days on end, and then some!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some books are easy to read quickly, enjoy, and forget, but others exert a huge influence that isn't as easy to discard from your mental library. In my fifteen years of life, my hands passed through an insane number of books, but only one held the power to open the doors to my changed perspective about reading and the world. At first sight, the length of East of Eden led me to thinking of it as an encyclopedia. East of Eden is a story that combines good and evil, strength and weakness, love and hate, beauty and ugliness, and many more nearly impossible contradictions. It's an in depth look at different people who are related to one another and the effect they have on each other. This book deals with good versus evil in Salinas Valley, California, during the early 1900's and displays the amount of evil that is in one family and how it grows among all people. Over and over again, this book questions the reader whether evil is something that is fated or if our lives are ruled by moral choice. I closed the book learning that our circumstances do not determine our lives, instead our lives are determined by our choices. We have that option to decide not to be influenced by our dark family histories, but instead select from a number of possibilities to live a more positive life. Although at times human history may place forces into our lives that cannot be controlled, we always have the authority and external strength to use our free will to choose between good and evil. At the end of all things, our free will is the ultimate decider in the course of moral destiny. Simply put, the big idea in here insists on everyone to forget the past and forge a better future. At the very end, both good and evil are inseparable opposites that must coexist. After all, I found this strange and original work of art to be extremely enduring with its very rich and intensive themes that made me escape outside of the words printed on the pages. My favorite part of all was grabbing phenomenal, thought provoking quotes from this book and applying them to reality. Good and evil was definitely proved superior in strength, power, and influence. I stared to think broadly about all the things that could possibly prevail in this world. Once I opened the book, I was able to quickly fly into the never ending words of utmost attraction and charm. Steinbeck is a brilliant writer, who can incorporate creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, motivation, originality, philosophy, thoughtfulness, and so much more, to mesmerize the reader and have the reader envy him. This book might be long and, at times, slow, however it is well worth the read. I recommend it to anyone who wants to live life and explore and discover not only an extraordinary book, but also another part of themselves. Since the age of twelve, I've read the book three times, and every time I've read it, I learned something different and my insights slightly changed. With no doubt, if I pick this book up again in the next fifty years of my life, it will still hold the power to captivate me and move me. When I look back to my last moments with this book, I see that my initial thought was never really wrong; East of Eden did serve as an encyclopedia for adventure, fantastic writing, indescribable imagination, overwhelming amounts of knowledge, uninterrupted inspiration and thoughts, and strong emotions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you don't mind epics and you love finely-drawn characters, you'll adore this book. Each character becomes real, and each of them are fascinating, especially Kate, the cruel adulteress and madam whose presence haunts both her sons. I can't possibly summarize the whole book, but trust me: The story's great, the characters are wonderful, and the message is admirable (a rarity in modern fiction). The James Dean film does justice to the character of Cal, while the Jane Seymour miniseries does justice to Kate. I'd recommend both, but neither do justice to the novel as a whole.
avid_reader1590 More than 1 year ago
This is my all time favorite novel. This is a novel that I really hated to end and one of the few novels that I have read more than once.
KSB11 More than 1 year ago
It is easy to be intimidated by East of Eden. At 601 pages, this complex novel is anything but a light read. However, it is impossible not to become mesmerized by this contemporary twist on the classic tale of good vs. evil. Shadowing biblical stories of the temptation of Adam and Eve, and the bitterness between Cain and Abel, East of Eden details the interwoven lives and struggles of two families located in California's Salinas Valley, the Trasks and the Hamiltons. The first half of the novel revolves around Adam Trask's foolish love for his beautiful wife Catherine Ames. As he ambitiously travels to California to raise a family, her love proves to be poisonous as Catherine, now known as Kate, heartlessly abandons Adam with two young sons, Aron and Cal. The last half of the novel portrays Adam's uneven love for his sons; Aron, loved by all, is held in Adam's highest respect while Cal, the outsider of the family, is neglected. Steinbeck's characters are honest and real; it is these blunt characterizations that define East of Eden. For example, Steinbeck immediately portrays Catherine Ames in a negative manner as he states, "I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. . . . The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?" (71). By portraying Catherine as cruel and vicious, Steinbeck effectively foreshadows and projects the negative impact of her actions on other characters in the novel. East of Eden is undeniably deep, therefore a perfect adventure for avid readers. Referred to as Steinbeck's proudest work, East of Eden is a classic will acquire a prominent place on every bookshelf, begging to be read again and again.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
I had to read this for school, and I was surprised. I actually enjoyed it. The characters and plot were complex, and it was well written. It was a true classic.
Guacamole More than 1 year ago
Steinbeck's East of Eden is a fantastic retelling of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. The representation of Cain in Charles and Caleb, and Abel in Adam and Aron foreshadows the fates of the characters, while setting the stage for many pleasant surprises. The novel's greatest treasure is in its emphasis on the ideal of "timshel," as Caleb's struggles against his innate evil becomes the defining plotline of the book. I was able to sympathize with his pursuit of a life untainted by his mother's past and admire his courage in the face of adversity. Thus, I feel that the novel's greatest appeal is in the character Cal, who, while flawed, epitomizes the concept of "thou mayest." The "Abel" character, while allowed to live in the grace of God, does so only transiently (Aron), or at the cost of naiveté and vulnerability (Adam). In a sense, the book continues the story where the Bible left off, bringing closure to the newly designated protagonist: the Cain-like Cal. Repeated reference to the story of Cain and Abel provides hope for Caleb, while foreshadowing doom for Aron. Samuel's reading of the text sets the backdrop for the novel's conclusion, subtly foreshadowing the reversed fates of the two characters. Gradually, I was diverted from the "perfection" of Aron, and led to commiserate with the epic struggles of Cal, whose resolute will set him above Aron, despite their innate traits. The alteration to the Biblical story created a pleasant message. As Adam leaves his son with a final blessing-the reminder of "timshel"-he serves a purpose Abel was unable to achieve. He is vindicated, proven worthy of his father's favor, and both "Cain" and "Abel" are evidently affected by God's blessing. Through minor characters, Steinbeck effectively leads to Adam's ultimate epiphany. Lee's unwavering conviction in the idea of "timshel" parallels Moses' vision and guides Cal through his struggle-an analogy to the spiritual wilderness of the Israelites. In times of Cal's resignation to his innate evil, Lee's words serve as reminder that there is always the choice to overcome sin. Under Lee's leadership, Adam is led to realize his repetition of Cyrus' mistake through the denial of Cal in favor for Aron, and prompted to bless Cal in his final words. The concluding message of the novel is one alluded to since the beginning. Not only does Steinbeck's novel continue the Bible's story, it finishes it beautifully, inspiring hope for Cal's future and the fate of humanity.
Lorsine More than 1 year ago
Many associate ¿boring¿ with ¿long¿ book, but I assure you that the East of Eden is a worthwhile read. There are three parts to this story, but all are equally interesting. It may feel confusing at times, but it is only a passing thought. This book never gets boring¿the overlapping plotlines gave more to John Steinbeck to work with, therefore creating his, in my opinion, masterpiece.

First of all, the characters are truly unique (except for the fact that they are based off some characters in the Bible), made by Steinbeck to enhance his story. Before reading this book, I never would have believed someone to be innately evil; it is usually some kind of major psychological change that causes them to behave that way. However, Cathy is another matter. Steinbeck describes her so well that you sometimes wonder if he has met someone like that before, and managed to escape with his life.

Another character would be Aron. Sometimes you wonder if he is actually that good; if Cathy were the epitome of evil, Aron is the epitome of good. And his counterpart, Cal, is equally intriguing. Though he is dark and secretive, he does not, and cannot, compare to Cathy¿s evilness. We can all relate to his struggles to become ¿good,¿ like his brother; it is a struggle we have ourselves.

The biblical allusions make this story even more amazing. Though the book may seem enhanced by the allusions, the very fact that Steinbeck is able to continuously allude to the Bible is admirable. In a way, we are able to understand the Bible stories even more after reading this book.

With characters as intriguing as Aron and Cathy, and even Cal, as well as the wonderful plotline, Steinbeck writes one of his best works ever. Make sure you read it¿you won¿t regret it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I fist read this book when I was in 8th Grade. I was the only kid who got anything about it. I love Steinbeck, his writing is amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Faulkner once wrote that the only thing worth writing about was the conflict within the human heart. Enter EAST OF EDEN, Steinbeck's best work. This is the essence of this book: conflict. And the physical clashes that take place in the book only mirror what Steinbeck is really writing about: the fact that we all have a choice to be who we are, or aren't. This is the story to two brothers who compete for their father's attention. The parallels to the bible are so obvious that they're almost insulting, but after reading many of the reviews here, I'm shocked at how many people don't get this. All the characters can be seen as metaphors and symbols, but even if you don't know this, you can still read this book on the level it was probably written for. But Steinbeck didn't just write symbolically rather, he meant this parallel to be noticed and even points to this with the use of the Hebrew word 'Timshel' which he (and others) translates as thou mayest, meaing that we all have a choice. There's a reason this book is still a bestseller, and it's not because of Oprah, though I'm glad she brought new attention to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, the story is very interesting and a bit comical with many biblical allusions
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a little slow getting started, but then the characters really came alive for me. I could not put the book down. I understand now why his writing was so acclaimed.
Caleb10 More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot because it made me think of my own character and choices I've made and how they compared with the books characters. It uses the biblical story of Cain and Abel as a framework to further develop his work which is a message to humanity about the ESSENCE of the survivability of mankind. It is a very well crafted novel which I would highly recommend to anyone who wishes to enjoy a high quality book. Read ebook on a B&N Nook in accessible .ePub format.
bleached_black More than 1 year ago
East of Eden was a great book. I was assigned to read for my AP English class, and as always, I thought it was going to be another boring, dull, senseless book. I was very wrong. This book was fantastic. It is very unique. The twist on the book of Genius is very clever. The characters were outstanding. Mr. Steinbeck described them so well. I got a very vivid image in my mind. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is truly a great read.
musicman14 More than 1 year ago
It's been over 30 years since I first read this book and I am stunned by how timely it remains. Stainbeck has an amazing ability to peel away the layers of the human soul in a manner that is both facinating and frightening. The story of the Hamilton and Trask familes provides a canvas for a picture of what makes us human, both good and bad. I enjoyed this book when I initially read it as a young man but truly appreciate its greatness now that I can view it against my own life experiences.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story spans multiple generations of the Hamilton and Trask family starting in the late 1800's. The author really does a good job of getting you to care about the characters, and this will definitely NOT be the last Steinbeck novel that I read. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title says it all...mankind has been banished from paradise, but is cursed and blessed with directions for finding it again. Steinbeck weaves a gripping tale that follows two naturally opposed, yet inherently good, brothers. Pay most attention to the Samuel Hamilton character he is in my opinion the most important character in the story, both for the plot and the message of hope. He is misleadingly foiled against his wife, who embodies the virtues of strength and faith, but I think we can gain an understanding of Christianity from his actions. This book is not about the Church or religion, but when we see Samuel and his wife, I think it is reasonable to suppose that Steinbeck meant to show the beauty and life that a true Christian personifies. Liza, Samuel's wife, represents the rigid and unquestioning faith in commands (Old Testament), whereas Samuel mirrors New Testament teachings in that his words, thoughts, and actions seem to 'fulfill' the good intentions of his wife - and in a beautifully Irish way. Read the book, let yourself sink into the lives of the characters, and if you possess the strength to finish the book despite its hellish entailments, you will emerge with a more optimistic and beautiful understanding of human life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly the greatest story ever written about quite possibly the most basic of principles: good vs. evil. Inspirational and breathtaking, the story is a pure example of how to write characters that you can love one minute and hate the next. Just like in real life!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cried, laughed and enjoyed..a winner
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book frustrated me to no end, and still does. There were some parts that were just painfully bad - clumsy characterizations, heavy handed attempts at life's deep truths, and even one chapter I am almost positive is completely unnecessary. At many points, I hated this book, the narrator, and the author. And yet I still think about this book more than most other books I've read around that time. Maybe it's only because of the sheer size of the novel, but more likely it's the better parts that redeem it a little bit. Sorry if I'm a little short on supporting details. I regard this as a messy, underdeveloped, unfocused, and failed shot at an epic novel by Steinbeck.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title says it all...mankind has been banished from paradise, but is cursed and blessed with directions for finding it again. Steinbeck weaves a gripping tale that follows two naturally opposed, yet inherently good, brothers. Pay most attention to the Samuel Hamilton character; he is in my opinion the most important character in the story, both for the plot and the message of hope. He is misleadingly foiled against his wife, who embodies the virtues of strength and faith, but I think we can gain an understanding of Christianity from his actions. This book is not about the Church or religion, but when we see Samuel and his wife, I think it is reasonable to suppose that Steinbeck meant to show the beauty and life that a true Christian personifies. Liza, Samuel's wife, represents the rigid and unquestioning faith in commands (Old Testament), whereas Samuel mirrors New Testament teachings in that his words, thoughts, and actions seem to 'fulfill' the good intentions of his wife - and in a beautifully Irish way. Read the book, let yourself sink into the lives of the characters, and if you possess the strength to finish the book despite its hellish entailments, you will emerge with a more optimistic and beautiful understanding of human life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 16-year-old student, and am an avid reader that enjoys the works of John Steinbeck. His books are easy to understand, being that I¿m from California, and have been to the places he¿s mentioned in his books. He has amazing ability to put pictures to words. In this novel, East of Eden, two brothers reenact the ancient biblical tale of Cain and Abel. There is one brother that starves for the father¿s love and attention that he never receives, and there is the ¿perfect¿ son that everyone loves. Steinbeck makes a turn with this novel, and is unlike any of his other books that I¿ve read up until this point. It¿s an amazing novel that¿s well written and should be read by anyone who is a fan of Steinbeck. The amazing value of knowledge that I¿ve gained from this book is unbelievable. Let not the size of the novel intimidate you, because at the end it is all worth it. `Timshel¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had an assignment to Read East of Eden for an 11th grade advanced english class. It is truly the best book I have ever read. It tells the story of human life. It shows that everyone is capable of being good or evil and it is a person's choices that determine the paths their lives will take. One of the many things I will take with me from the book is the word 'timshel' and it's deep meaning. I'm completely hooked on John Steinbeck's works and am so grateful I had the oppurtunity to read this epic and beautiful novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
East of Eden might be long, but it is Good! If i had to pick one problem with it, the only thing would be that it is kind of confusing. My first time reading it, I was confused with the different people and stories it had, but hang in there, it is all worth it in the end!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
East of eden was an outstanding book it thrilled all of my emotions it went from happy to sad to mad.Steinbeck is one of the best authors to have ever written and i highly recomend him.I am 15 and have already read several of his books. You will not be disapointed if you read this book. It is a must read. Feel free to im me or email me anytime.