Steinbeck, John: East of Eden
(researched by Ryan Sinclair)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

The Viking Press New York, NY 1952

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

clothbound (first edition)

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

(602 pages +1 title page leaf) = 302 leaves

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The novel itself contains no reference to editors. However, biographical research reveals that Steinbeckís publisher and close friend Pascal Covici lent a hand in editing the initial manuscript.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?


7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The text size is easily readable with enough space between the lines to prevent eyestrain, well centered on the page. The ink is not smeared or blotchy. The lines are straight and even across the page.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The paper is about medium thickness and slightly yellowed. It is not cracked or dry; neither does it tear easily.

11 Description of binding(s)

The binding is of light green cloth, with "East of Eden" and "John Steinbeck" printed on the cover and the spine. The spine also carries the publisher, Vikingís, name. All of the spine text is contained in a brown box.

12 Transcription of title page

(all caps)JOHN STEINBECK East of Eden 1952 (all caps)THE VIKING PRESS (bullet) NEW YORK

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

The complete manuscript is held at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Their internet address is

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Title centered (top-bottom and left-right) on title page. DEDICATION: PACAL COVICI Dear Pat, You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, "Why don't you make something for me?" I asked you what you wanted, and you said, "A box." "What for?" "To put things in." "What things?" "Whatever you have," you said. Well, here's your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts- the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation. And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you. And still, the box is not full. John [It is interesting to note just who "Pat" is and what the content of this dedication means. Pascal Covici, AKA, Pat, was Steinbeck's publisher starting in the early years of his writing. Covici's publishing business went bankrupt in 1937 and Covici, with Steinbeck's publishing contract, moved to Viking Press. At Viking, Covici remained in charge of Steinbeck's publications and over the years the two developed a deep friendship. Thier professional and personal reltionships were put to the test with the writing of East of Eden, as the two worked closely to get the manuscript into a publishable form. Steinbeck once said that he never would have finished the book without Covici's proddings. Thus, when the book was finished, Steinbeck placed the 250,000 word manuscript into a mahogany box he had carved, and sent it to Covici with a note on top...the note, as you may have guessed, became the dedication page of the novel.] OTHER PRINTS: The first edition of East of Eden had a special printing when it was first published. Viiking Press printed 1500 copies of the book to serve as autographed versions. They contain an extra page stating that it is one of 1500 (750 for sale to the general public) signed by the author. Steinbecks autograph is on that page, in blue ink. The autographed book is hardbound with a rich green cloth cover. The printing on the cover is the same as the other first editions, except in gold, not black. The only other noticable difference was on the title page, where "EAST OF EDEN" is in red print instead of black.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

Autographed Cloth bound edition, (Viking Press) 1952. Trade paper edition, (Viking Press) 1952. (Viking Penguin) 1979, 1986, 1992.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?


5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Bantam Books, Inc., 1952 Bantam Books, Inc., 1967 Bantam Books, Inc., 1976 Grosset & Dunlop, 1961 Ulverscoft Large Print Books, Lim., 1976 Mandarin (UK), April 1995 Minerva (UK), December 1995

6 Last date in print?

October 1992,(last Viking Penguin printing)

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)


8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)


9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

(a)Coming Friday, EAST OF EDEN. The great novel youíve been waiting for, by JOHN STEINBECK. (NY Times Book Review, Sept. 14, 1952, pg.22) (b)STEINBECK, John. FIC. East of Eden (it), 602 p. c. N.Y., Viking 4.50 A large-scale family novel that begins is Connecticut at the time of the Civil War and moves to the Salinas Valley of California and the time of the First World War. Adam, a respectable farmer, marries a woman who leaves him after the birth of their twin sons to become again a prostitute. The sons grow up in conflict with each other and their strange heritage. (Publishers Weekly, September 20, 1952.)(c ) Overwhelming enthusiasm from advance readers- in the book trade- for JOHN STEINBECKís great new novel. [picture of the book, publishers logo, full page, 17 brief reviews from publishers editors ect.] (NY Times Book Review, Spetmember 21, 1952. Pg. 9)

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

None found.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

Motion Picture (1955). Warner Brothers. Director- Elia Kazan. Starring- James Dean, Julie Harris. MPAA- NR. Genre- Drama. Runtime- 115 minutes. [Television mini-series and Musical adaptation]

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

a. Jenseits von Eden: Roman. Zurich: Diana, 1984. (Swiss) b. Jenseits von Eden. Wein: Zsolnay, 1993. (Swiss) c. La valle dellíEden. Milano: Arnoldo Mandadori Editore, 1994. (Italian) d. I-tien yuan tang. Tíai-pe hsien Chung-ho shih: Shu hua chíu pan shin yeh yu hsien kung ssu, 1995. (Chinese) e. Al este del Eden. Barcelona: Caralt, 1990 1975. (Spanish) f. Np Iztok ot rp*ia. Sofi*ia [Russia]: Narodna Kaltwa, 1986. (Russian) g. Eden ui tongtchok. Soul: Pomusa, 1993. h. Edentol keletne: regency. Budapest: Europa Konyvkiado, 1979. (Hungarian) i. Eden no higashi. Tokyo: Hayakawashobo, 1955. (Japanese) j. Oster om Eden. Stockholm: Bonniers, 1952 1977. (Swedish) k. Eedenista itaan: romani. Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtio Tammi, 1953. (Finnish) l. Jenseits von Eden: Roman. Berhi: Darmstadt, 1970 1979 m. Kidmat Eden. [Tel Aviv]: Zemarah Bitan, 1994. (Hebrew) n. Na wschod od Edenu. Warszawa: MUZA SA, 1994. (Polish) o. Na vychod od raje. Praha: Melantrich, 1968 1992. p. A líest díEden. Paris: Editions Mondiales, 1954. (French) q. Ost for paradis. Kobenhaun: Gyldedwe, 1959.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

"Sons of Cyrus Trask." Colliers, 130 (July 12, 1952). Pg. 14-15.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. It was a home birth and from that day on, he spent his childhood in Salinas with his three sisters, his emotionally distant father, and his sternly puritanical mother. The strictness of his mother's rule and the cold disdain of his father instilled in Steinbeck a keen urge to get away from Salinas. Thus when his mother insisted that he attend college after high school, Steinbeck took the opportunity to get away. He attended classes at Stanford University on and off, focusing what little academic attention he had on courses and professors who would help him cultivate his writing skills. Finally, after the publication of his first short story, Fingers of a Cloud, in the Stanford Spectator at the age of 22, Steinbeck gave up on academia and entered the "real world." He worked for a number of years, doing everything from building dams in Colorado to construction in New York City; always continuing to write. Finally in 1929 he published his first novel, Cup of Gold. Many more were to follow: The Pastures of Heaven (1932), To God Unknown (1933), Tortilla Flat (1935), In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), The Red Pony (1937), The Long Valley (1938), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), The Moon is Down (1942), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), The Wayward Bus (1947), Burning Bright (1950), East of Eden (1952), Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication, and The Winter of Our Discontent (1961). After launching himself as a novelist, Steinbeck moved about in the publishing world working with a number of people on his many novels. There were two agents with whom he worked so closely and frequently that a personal relationship developed between them. First was Elizabeth Otis of the McIntosh & Otis Company which took Steinbeck on as a writer early in his career (about 1931). Otis worked closely with Steinbeck on his writing, even when he worked through other agents. She was, according to the last of his three wives, one of Steinbeck's best friends. Then there was Pat Covici. Covici was part owner of Covici-Friede, which undertook the publication of Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat in 1935. They established a friendship so solid that when Covici's business went bankrupt in August of 1938, Steinbeck allowed him to use his contract to bargain for a job with Viking Press. Steinbeck claimed he never would have completed East of Eden (his most personally prized work) if not for Covici's constant support. The novel is dedicated to Pat Covici. Steinbeck was married three times, first to Carol Henning in 1930; then to Gwyn Conger in 1943. Gwyn was the mother of Steinbeck's two sons, Thom and John, and is widely believed to be the "inspiration" for Cathy in East of Edenb, a despicable character at best. His third wife, Elaine Scott, he took in 1950, and she was with him until he died. After a series of heart attacks resulting from serious heart disease, and with no hope of surgical recovery from the damage, Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968, in the arms of his wife Elaine, in their apartment on East Seventy-Second Street in New York City. He was survived by his wife, his two sons John and Thom, and a smattering of close friends. Steinbeck's many manuscripts and letters are scattered about the US. Some locations of their keeping include: U.Texas at Austin, U.C. Berkley, Stanford University, and the Salinas Public Library in California.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

By the time Steinbeck published East of Eden in 1952, he was already one of the preeminent authors of his time. As a result the book was reviewed repeatedly in the week of its publication by numerous magazines of high repute. The New York Times, Time Magazine, the Saturday Review, and The New Yorker, to name a few. Although what aspects of Steinbeck's writing individual reviewers did and did not like, the book was received with a universal tone of ambivalence. Most reviewers seemed to like the conceptual framework of the novel. The idea of using two generations of an American family to document the westward movement of the nation and to embody the multitude of American themes during that almost 100 year period appealed to most critics. But many of those same critics were skeptical about how much East of Eden lived up to its task. The characters seemed to take the brunt of this line of attack; critics railed against the stock quality of the characters in the novel. Cathy's evil is SO evil it is unbelievable. Adams goodness and purity do not reflect the harshness of his life. Lee is so much the Eastern mystic/wise-man that its surprising he does not wear a fu-man-chu mustache and speak regularly in Zen koans. Aside from the characters, many critics took issue with Steinbeck's narrative form. The book is actually two stories, about two families. They are related and intertwined only on a superficial level. While most critics liked both stories, many did not like that he claimed it was one novel. Perhaps the most frequently mentioned thing, for good or bad, was the sharp break this book takes from everything Steinbeck had written up to the time of its publication. Almost every review opens commenting on how East of Eden was nothing like Grapes of Wrath, a totally different style from Cannery Row, and likewise divergent from every other style and emphasis Steinbeck had ever used. Despite all of the criticisms, however, East of Eden was almost universally hailed as one of the best novels of the decade. It seems that, whatever problems they may have found in the novel's style and development, the reading public very much enjoyed it overall. Steinbeck's powerful language, intriguing story, and lovable (even if stock) characters seem to have pulled it through the critical ?rings of fire'. "As it stands, East of Eden is a huge grab bag in which pointlessness and preposterous melodrama pop up as frequently as good storytelling and plausible conduct." TIME, Sept. 22, 1952 "[East of Eden] isn't a great novel according to strict conventions of formal purity so widely accepted ... but it will take almost equal quantities of pride and stupidity to deny that it is one of the best novels of the past 10 years ... Most people will like it, and many will buy it." SATURDAY REVIEW, Sept. 20, 1952 NY Times Book Review, Sept. 21, 1952 The New Yorker, Sept 20, 1952 New Republic, Oct 6, 1952 NY Herald Tribune, Sept 21, 1952 see also-Book Review Digest Vol. 48

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

There is quite a bit which has been written about the novel since East of Eden's publication in 1952. However, most, if not all, of what has been written is academic in its focus. For example, an article in the Spring 1997 issue of THE EXPLICATOR discusses the "messianic undertones" of the novel. Another article from THE STEINBECK QUARTERLY (which tells you something about its content right there) discusses the often overlooked influence of the Greek myth ?Pandora's Box' on Steinbeck's epic novel. Most modern commentary on the book is of this sort (and, in fact, much of it is to be found in THE STEINBECK QUARTERLY). As such, this material does not so much deal with how well the book is liked, but more with how well the book reflects the attitudes of its time, what literary influences may have effected its writing, and what effect it has had on subsequent American authors. Some periodical academic literature is found in: *The Steinbeck Quarterly The Unesco Courier San Francisco Chronicle Man in Modern Fiction The Young Rebel in American Literature In addition to this periodical academia, there are books on academic literature which contain references to East of Eden. One may also note that there is periodical literature surrounding the 1955 movie East of Eden, starring James Dean as Adam Trask. Coming so close on the heels of the novel itself, however, most of these articles center on Mr. Dean more than the movie in which Mr. Dean was starring.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Paul McCarthy, in his book John Steinbeck, tells us that "despite good sales, critics as a rule found serious flaws in the characterizations [and] thematic development" of East of Eden. Indeed, when one routes through the review literature surrounding the books publication, there is a definite critical frown surrounding the whole affair. While most reviewers laude Steinbeck's verbiage and descriptive power, there is a fair amount of ambivalence about the story-line itself and how successfully Steinbeck uses it. But the critical reception is only one half of the novel's receipt. It seems that McCarthy's comment ought to be reversed: despite the critics somewhat negative response, it had good sales! This curious fact leads us to ask just what gave East of Eden such popular success? What about the novel caused the public to defy the critics and turn out in droves to purchase the book? Why was East of Eden a bestseller? By the time of East of Eden's publication, Steinbeck had been publishing novels for 23 years. Some were bestsellers, and one of which (The Grapes of Wrath) was a wild bestseller and the subject of a critically acclaimed movie as well as numerous productions in other media. In other words, by the time Steinbeck published East of Eden, he was already an established author in the American pantheon. It is likely that a large portion of his book sales came from his fame as an author. But certainly that is not enough? While fame certainly plays a major role in the success of any mass market commodity, that commodity must still supply its audience with something of value. The most obvious place to start, having moved beyond the author himself, is the content of the book. East of Eden is, as critics pointed out, quite a convoluted story. It traces the history of two families through several generations. In many ways, Steinbeck uses this wide time scale to examine various historical aspects of America: technological advances, wars, and political agendas, to name a few. But the thrust of the story is its allegorical reference to the Biblical myth of Cain and Abel. Almost every character is a version of one or the other of these two brothers. Adam Trask, the first main character of the tale, is an Abel; his brother Charles is a Cain. Adam's twin sons carry this dichotomy into the next generation with Aaron being another Abel character and Caleb being a second Cain. With these two subsequent pairs of brothers, Steinbeck plays out the traditional struggle between good and evil. Steinbeck's take on the Biblical tale, however, is different. Levant explains Steinbeck's new interpretation: "Cain murders Abel because he feels unloved and rejected by God; that is, he feels that he is evil by nature ? Abel does not murder because he feels loved and accepted by God. But his serenity precludes self-knowledge, he does not have to find good, as Cain may ? Cain's self-equated guilt and physical ugliness are the index of his humanity. Abel is too pure to be believably human." Levant is right about Steinbeck's take. Adam and his son Aaron, the two Abels of Steinbeck's novel, are too good to be true. They are shallow characters who unerringly and unwittingly do the right thing. Their effortless and blasé good is almost insulting to the reader. Real people never have a natural moral perfection. Caleb, however, as the Cain of Adam's loins, is made to struggle for love, acceptance, and good. His battle to achieve some moral ground is indicative of the real persons struggle in the real world. How might this new take on the classic story have contributed to East of Eden's success? To get a little perspective on the issue, I spent some time looking at bestseller's lists and advertisements in Publisher's Weekly and The New York Times Book Review from the weeks surrounding East of Eden's publication. What I found was rather revealing. Assuming that we may determine popular trends from details about the book market, examining publication lists ought to give us some insight into what the public was looking for in 1952. Two major trends which immediately jump to one's attention are particularly relevant to the central theme of Steinbeck's East of Eden. Religious books by the score were published around this time. Indeed, the Holy Bible itself was the number one non-fiction bestseller of the year. In both Publisher's Weekly and NTBR, the Bible received full two page ads! (The importance of this is most revealed by the fact that most books get only one corner of a page. Even wildly popular contemporary authors like Steinbeck and Hemingway never got more than one page.) Other religious materials include titles like Religion and the Modern Mind, The Big Fisherman, Religion in the 20th Century, The Christian Reader, and Why I am a Christian. Given this market for religious literature, it doesn't seem so surprising that Steinbeck's Biblical allegory would be wildly popular. There's more. A second trend which is easily identified from the publication lists is self-help books. Titles like Where to Find Opportunity Today, and How to Get the Breaks, were widespread and popular. How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying was on the bestseller list for over a month (Publisher's Weekly Sept.-Oct.) Numerous books about psychology, the dynamics of successful marriage, even books about getting dates were published in this time. If we combine these two facets, the Biblical trend and the self-help trend, what do we get? I suggest that what we get is Steinbeck's new interpretation of the Cain and Abel myth. Steinbeck suggests that moral goodness is something to strive for, as Caleb must do in East of Eden. The natural goodness of Adam and Aaron is not what we experience, nor what we seek. Find your own salvation, Steinbeck says: a philosophy which nicely fuses the modern help yourself ideology with the Biblical ideology of moral fortitude. This ?self-help-salvation' idea is directly found in East of Eden through the philosophical voice of Lee. He discusses, around the middle of the book, a curious passage from the Old Testament. After his punishment, Cain is told by God that he shall triumph over sin. The point of Lee's contention is in the "shall". The Hebrew word timshel, he says, is translated in one place as "thou shalt", in another as "do thou" and in the correct Hebrew as "thou mayest". Peter Lisca sums the argument: Steinbeck gives a "new translation of the Hebrew word timshel, which in the King James version reads as "thou shalt". He proposes that the word is more meaningfully ? rendered as "thou mayest", for this gives men responsible moral choice." In other words, if Cain is told he may overcome sin, he has a choice. He either may or may not. But if the old translation is right, "thou shalt," then it is promised to Cain that he will overcome sin and there is no responsibility to try. Steinbeck effectively uses the Cain and Abel story to present morality as a self-responsibility. This taps into two popular trends in 1950's literature and may serve to explain some of the books popularity. Along these lines, there is even more to be revealed by examining the publication trends surrounding the book. East of Eden, Steinbeck said, was originally to be a history of his own family. Indeed Samuel Hamilton and all his progeny are actually Steinbeck's relatives in Salinas Valley, California. In a way, the book is a biographical account of his family history. Event the fictional Trask family is presented in a biographical form as we trace three generations of them from the start of the novel to its end. This biographical aspect was not an unknown style in 1952. Herbert Hoover, Adalai Stevenson, Anne Frank, Tallulah, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Elizabeth Barret Browning are some of the more notable subjects of biographies published within two weeks of East of Eden's September 1952 release date. If biographies were so popular, it would not be surprising that Steinbeck's multi-layered biographical tale would benefit from the trend. Likewise, the popularity of books about sex may have lent a hand. While publishers were not pushing pornography, they were selling books like Glands, Sex, and Personality, Sexual Feelings in Married Men and Women, and The Sexually Adequate Male. With this sort of topic already on the rise, it couldn't have hurt Steinbeck's book sales that one of his main characters is a prostitute! Cathy, the pure but simple Adam's wife, and father of the brothers Aaron and Caleb, starts the novel as a prostitute and later become the madam of a whorehouse. The sexual relations in the book (both Cathy's and others) are sketched in some detail and certainly must have played upon the budding interest in reading about such topics. As a final note on trends and popularity, Steinbeck also seems to have cashed in on the growing market of scientific books as well. Titles published in September of 1952 include Atomic Imperialism, Modern Science & Modern Man, and Man: The Chemical Machine. At several points throughout his book, Steinbeck draws upon the rising technology. The laying of train tracks, the use of trains for business, even the mystery of the Model-T Ford is incorporated into Adam Trask's world. It seems possible that the audiences proclivity to these popular themes may have influenced their reaction to Steinbeck's use of them. Hence enhancing the book's popularity. It seems even more likely that his is the case when we remember that the critics received Steinbeck's book rather poorly. They criticized his writing technique, the organization of the book and, in some cases, the storyline itself; but if the readers were attracted to the subject matter, these "literary" aspects might matter fairly little to them. Thus the critics might be overlooked in their dislike of Steinbeck' s narrative style, if the reader was attracted to his themes.

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