East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Read Steinbeck’s East of Eden in July, along with Oprah. Have joined Diamond’s Oprah’s Classics book group. An excuse to get me reading books I might otherwise put off for a while.
It is a good book, but not what I expected it to be.
The book itself is much more aware of itself as a book than I had thought it would be, a lot more modern. For some reason I had expected it to be quite traditional in style.
The shifts in narrator, I thought, were handled quite well, and the different voices from the omniscient narrator to John Steinbeck himself to the characters in the novel were handled very well.
The basic plot is a retelling of the Old Testament story of Cain and Abel, and why God did accepted one gift over the other. This idea of gifts and presents features heavily in the novel, as do brothers.
Think the book raises a lot of interesting questions; Which of the twins represents Cain, for example. I think the answer to this depends on your reading of the characters, and if you think that people, in general are good or evil.
But I found the idea of timshel the most interesting notion in the book. It revolves around a translation of the word in the bible as “you may” and therefore implies choice. I’ll let you read the book to get a full appreciation.