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East of Eden

Critique • Quotes • At the movies

East of Eden first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
1952, United States

Literature form


Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 225,000 words

Notable lines

The Salinas Valley is in Northern California. It is a long narrow swale between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into the Monterey Bay.

— First lines

I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that distinction is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar—if he is financially fortunate. 


It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them.


And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.


We have only one story. 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.


"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."


His whispered word seemed to hang in the air:
His eyes closed and he slept.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes • At the movies

See also:

The Catcher in the Rye

The Old Man and the Sea

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