John Steinbeck drew inspiration from the Biblical story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt as he crafted his Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning novel, "The Grapes of Wrath." In another of his epic novels, "East of Eden," he once again turned to the Bible, this time transforming its ages-old story of Cain and Abel and the struggle between good and evil into a modern-day story with centuries-old themes.
"East of Eden" follows two families, the Hamiltons and the Trasks, as they move into California's Salinas Valley during the late 19th century. Samuel Hamilton and his wife, Eliza, move to California from Ireland, establish their large family and establish their a well respected family, although they never acquire much in the way of monetary wealth.
Adam Trask and his wife, Cathy, come from a farm in Connecticut, but they bring with them secrets in the form of marital infidelity, questionably-earned wealth from Adam's family and seeds of envy and mistrust resulting from sibling rivalry and deeply rooted jealousies.
Evil begets evil, or so the saying goes, and out of sin comes greater sin, greater evil - even to the point of murder and betrayal.
The sins of the fathers continue through several generations, from the father of Adam and his half-brother, Charles, to some of the wives and down through the children and grandchildren of the families, just as in the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. Listeners will be caught up, as have millions of fans of the novel before them, in the lives of each succeeding generation of characters.
The eternal questions brought forth concerning original sin are posed as new characters emerge, in a setting -- the Salinas Valley -- that mirrors the Garden of Eden.
Steinbeck was born in 1902 in Salinas, California. He died in 1968 in New York City. Prior to his writing career, he attended Stanford University. He dropped out of college and worked as a manual laborer, having gone to school to please his parents rather than to follow his dreams of becoming a writer.
He concerned himself with the plights of the workers, which included immigrants and migrant workers, subject matter which attracted harsh criticism from those who depended upon cheap labor. Steinbeck's works often called attention to poor working conditions as well as to outright exploitation of the helpless.
This is a masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years—a vastly
ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the
Book of Genesis. In his journal, 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. Here is a 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. Download and start listening now!