Tuesday, August 21

East of Eden - John Stienbeck


Picked up this book because it was some user's "book of the year" on Goodreads. I was kinda afraid that it was that consumer compelling kinda book, like Lolita. As in, I was afraid that it was going to be a book where you knew it was good, because it outrightly screams so, and not one where there is a meaning sifted so closely behind. But anyway, it was the latter, obviously. 

This book is based on the biblical allusion of the story of Cain and Abel (which I had no idea about until reading this). It is not empyreal, in any sense, if you think the allusion might make it. Steinbeck has a flair for excessively describing normalcy with the greatest depth. And this skill came off as verbose when I attempted to read Cannery Row, but it is palatable and intricate in this book. I love it so much. Together with the biblical allusion which puts forth the perpetual struggle between good and evil, it is philosophical (obviously) and has historic platforms (which I love!). It has destroyed my sentiments on the farming life as being simple and smooth-flowing. Which is good. The story seems so unbelievable yet distinctively real. 

Apart from being a wondrous story, it is a teaching. The book revolves around the Hebrew theme of "Timshel' // "thou mayest" i.e. there is a choice between sin and prudence as well as redemption and eternal damnation. It tells us that it is a choice and not a compulsion, and that all sins can be redeemed... (beautifully).

+ I dreamt that I told Dom to read it and he was star-struck, overwhelmed, transfixed in it.


"the gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they don't fall little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green much. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine."

"we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have... to a monster the norm mut seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. to the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others."

"in a way each protected the other and so saved himself"

"all novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is."

"When we were children we lived in a story that we made up... we kept going because we were used to it. But I didn't believe the story any more."


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