Wednesday, December 5, 2007

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Title: East of Eden
John Steinbeck
# pages:
Classic Literature
Book Award Winners (1962 Nobel Prize in Literature), Book Around the States (CA)

Setting: Salinas Valley, Northern California.

Reason for Reading: Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and this book has been languishing on my TBR shelf for too long.

Random Thoughts: Spanning the time period between the Civil War and World War I, Steinbeck mixes biography with fiction as East of Eden follows the story of two families—Steinbeck’s maternal ancestors, the Hamiltons and their neighbors, the Trasks, who originally came from Connecticut. Ultimately, the book is about the good and evil that reside in each one of us—and the balance between the two. As is always the case with Steinbeck’s novels, my favorite part was the author’s masterful use of language.

Favorite quote: Samuel rode lightly on top of a book and he balanced happily among the 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.” (p. 282)

Interesting Tidbits:
* Published for the first time in September of 1952, East of Eden was number one on the fiction best-seller list in November 1952. The book has never been out of print since.
* The 1955 film version of East of Eden was James Dean’s first major film role. He played Cal (Caleb).
* The original manuscript of East of Eden is in the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Texas.
* According to the National Steinbeck Center’s website (, Steinbeck kept track of some things while writing East of Eden, and he recorded the following:

Eleven years of mental gestation
One year of uninterrupted writing
25 dozen pencils
Approximately three dozen reams of paper
350,000 words (before cutting)
About 75,000 words in his work-in-progress journal
And a rock-hard callus on the middle finger of the writer's right hand.

Rating: A

Also reviewed by:
My Own Little Reading Room

No comments: