Tuesday, January 1, 2008

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden completely swept me away. With all of it's pain and hatefulness, I found it so redeeming. Steinbeck is amazing - sometimes I feel like I am reading the scriptures when I read some of his stuff. Chapter 34, an entire three page chapter, is on good and evil and how really all we have is the ability to make choices between them. "There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill." He claims that most of the vices in this world come from a person's need to feel loved and that our goal should be to live so that no one gets pleasure from our death. And the thing about the book is that as harsh as the evil is (and yes, it is shockingly evil) it is never painted as anything BUT evil. Steinbeck never tries to blur the line between good and evil - evil is evil is evil and you can either rise about the evil things that are done to you or you can wallow and die, essentially.

Amazing. It's amazing that he could write a book that takes you to the brink - where really you wonder, why am I reading this? It's just so dang SAD. But he makes it so redeeming, you are gaining so much insight. And the thing is that it's a beautiful sad. A sad that you can look into and try to understand and reflect upon so that the same sadness doesn't find you.

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