23 February 2006

East of Eden

I picked up John Steinbeck's East of Eden early last year. I became a fan of his overnight. I can put him on the same shelf with the like of Dickens and Shakespears although they were all have different ways with their writings.

Dickens is well-known for his fecund imaginations and comic genius, never to depart from his typical "Dickensian" where he introduced numerous memorable characters which he blends with his powerful social sensibilities. Not to mention his vivid descriptions of life in 19th century England in all of his fictions.

Shakespear is famous for his playwright and poetry which often combined complex characterization, poetic grandeur and philosophical depth.

John Steinbeck is known as a naturalist writer. No one can depicted Salinas Valley in the 20th century (also known as 'Steinbeck Country') like he can. The words he choses for his story were more like poetry to me and that was one of the reason why I'm addicted to his works. In my opinion, he's a true American writer of his era. Although many would argued that The Grape of Wrath was his best work, East of Eden will always be my favorite.

There are timeless themes represented in this book.Labor exploitations, siblings rivalry, guilt and betrayal were all combined flawlessly with sympathetic humor and keen social perception.

This book tell the story of three generations of Trasks and Hamiltons - whose helplessly re-play the fall of Adam and Eve and the murderous rivalry of Cain and Abel. It was ironic and interesting to read how two set of brothers compete for the approval and love of their father. Steinbeck masterly manipulate the plot of each families.

There are numerous characters with strong personalities, who are made to be so memorable. There is Adam who was devastated when Cathy leaves him. You will see him grow as a stronger person and a better father later in the book. Charles, Adam's half brother who longed for someone to filled the hole in his heart. Of course there is Cathy, a whore who shot his husband and abandoned her family, conning several men along the way. Also Lee who was loyal servant to patriach Adam Trask and the primary caretaker to Adam's twins Caleb and Aron.

The twins what makes this story particularly intriguing in my opinion. The contrast between their personalities are very interesting. Caleb is the darker side of the twin. He's curious, brave, independent and strong-will. His brother Aron is anything but Caleb. The book bost intense moment to me personally is when Caleb learns the existence of his mother and how the confrontation ends. The evolutions of these characters are one of the reason why Steinbeck is hailed as the master of his craft.

Although supposedly the stories of these families were told by one of the Hamilton's grandson, the book focused more on the Trasks family - making the book perfectly balance.

This is a classic that I'll recommend to anyone.


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