East of Eden

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck is considered one America’s greatest novelists and East of Eden is considered one of his greatest two novels, along with The Grapes of Wrath.  Perhaps the best word to describe this novel would be the word powerful.  He deals with powerful things, good and evil, and he does so in a powerful way.

On the one hand there is a riveting story tracing two families through several generations, but it is not simply an interesting story.  It is full of tragedy and pathos, human goodness and human sinfulness.

The title of the book refers to Cain being exiled East of Eden.  It seems that Steinbeck was fascinated by Scripture, but it is hard to say what his view of Scripture exactly was.  Clearly, he spent time reading it.

This is not a quick and easy read.  It is a 600 page epic, mostly set in the rich agricultural land of California’s Salinas Valley near San Francisco.  It is a novel worth reading and probably worth rereading.