Steinbeck’s East of Eden

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending 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.”

John Steinbeck is explaining in the middle of his long and classic novel East of Eden that he believes the only story is that humans are caught in a net of good and evil. This sprawling masterpiece is an engaging story of generations of two families set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley. It’s both a powerful family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis. Do you agree with his premise that there’s only one basic story?

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