East of Eden – John Steinbeck

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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.

Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness enveloped by a mysterious darkness.

First published in 1952, East of Eden is the 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. A masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.

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    1. … and yet, when I read this more than 30 years ago, it helped consolidate my already atheistic outlook. It never ceases to interest me how the same experiences can produce such widely different outcomes in different people.

      “… the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

      Haldane, J. B. S. (1927/2017). Possible Worlds and Other Essays (p. 286). Originally published in 1927, London, UK: Chatto & Windus. Reprinted New York, NY: Rouledge.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Which of itself (queerness of the universe) could be an argument for the God thing – as well as a counter argument!)
    By the way to give it another twist, after 5 decades being the dutiful vicar’s wife [making tea and scones for bishops and clergy in a Stepford Wives existence] my mother suddenly gave up her belief in ‘all of it’. Like totally. That was 5 years ago.
    “Curiouser and Curiouser” as Lewis Carroll said. Via Alice!
    Finally – my own view- the universe is wild, beautiful and free and works in a way that causes wonder in the minds of man. Like the lasers of diamond and turquoise that light up the wild impenetrability of the night sky during the northern lights. That can be an argument for the existence of God. Or not.

    Liked by 2 people

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