Review: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

With East of Eden, I have gained a new appreciation for Steinbeck. This novel was masterfully written; it demonstrates Steinbeck’s command of language, history, and socioeconomic/political events. As one who came into this novel familiar with, but relatively inexperienced in Steinbeck’s work, I must say that East of Eden does one thing every author must hope for: it leaves me craving more. I must admit that I had my doubts about Steinbeck’s ability to tell such a lengthy story. I had only experienced shorter works (Of Mice and Men, The Pearl) up to this point and, while I knew Steinbeck to be a brilliant and beautiful writer, particularly adept social commentary and the didactic, I couldn’t see either of those short works being successful as a longer novel. The reason for this, of course, is obvious – the novellas are perfect as they are. Steinbeck chooses every word carefully, so that none of his work is longer or shorter than it needs to be. East of Eden proves it, in that it holds ones attention just as raptly as a shorter work, and it’s proves continues to move the reader from page to page, right until the very last words. The characters are well-developed, the plot and sub-plots interweave seamlessly, the setting is beautifully displayed and expresses its importance to the work as a whole (imagining this novel to take place anywhere else is almost impossible). I can’t say enough about East of Eden. I can say that it is more than just a beautiful, entertaining read. It is powerfully thought-provoking as well. Timshel will forever be something for which I strive to understand and to achieve.

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