East of Eden by John Steinbeck
New York : Book of the Month Club, 1995. Hardcover. 602 pages ; 22 cm. A very good copy with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.
East of Eden is a novel that is explicitly biblical in its scope, centering on the patriarchal figure of Adam Trask, and his uneasy relationship with his twin sons and their scandalous mother. This epic family saga, chronicling the turbulent ambitions and desires of the Trasks and their neighbors in California's fertile Salinas Valley, is characterized by one fundamental theme: the need for a personal choice between good and evil. Much of the historical background and some of the colorful events in the narrative are based on John Steinbeck's own memories and the recollections of his forebears in the region. But the vital protagonists—the dominating Adam, the favored Aron, the tormented Cal—and the fascinating cast of supporting characters, including maidens and whores, Chinese servants and scions of pioneer stock, are the fruit of Steinbeck's own imag¬inative genius and his love for the land of his birth.
JOHN STEINBECK was born in 1902 in Salinas, California, in the midst of a fertile valley that would provide the setting for some of his most notable creations. Although Steinbeck's early work attracted little critical attention, Tortilla Flat, a colorful depiction of the lovable rogues who frequented the seamier side of the California fishing town of Monterey, brought him acclaim in 1935. This reputation was strengthened by such works as Of Mice and Men (1937) and the classic The Grapes of Wrath (1939), widely acknowledged as one of the greatest American novels of the century. His birthplace in Salinas provided the background for the most notable of Steinbeck's later novels, the powerful East of Eden (1952), with its resonant theme of ambiguous moral values amid a primal family conflict. In The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), the aging author addressed the crisis of personal morality at mid-century, and in the transcendent Travels with Charley (1962), Steinbeck journeyed back to the scenes of his past triumphs, accompanied by his patiently loyal poodle, in a moving—and successful— attempt to weigh his accomplishments within the context of his life as a whole. John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962 and died in 1968. He is buried in his beloved Salinas.
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