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Monday, September 27, 2010

East of Eden I: Introduction

Normally, I would have a much longer introduction and author's bio prepared.  I'm not going to do that.  I'm sure that a portion of this omission may be attributed to sloth, but, really, an author's bio is unnecessary here, as this, more than any other piece Steinbeck wrote, is autobiography, if not in information, date, and detail, certainly in between the lines.  We will examine that closely as we go.  In support of the text's autobiographical nature, here is the note left by Steinbeck to his publisher, Pascal (Pat) Covici, with the manuscript for East of Eden:

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.


As a mere point of interest, Steinbeck did all of his writing by hand, in pencil, on 10 3/4" x 14" paper.  As I mentioned earlier, I happen to have--thanks to my wonderful sister, Katie--a copy of Journal of a Novel, which is the journal Steinbeck kept (which usually amounted to letters sent to Pat) from conception through completion of East of Eden.  I will attempt to reference this as much as possible through the reading of the novel.  Others who have read the journal--on my recommendation or otherwise--are welcome to correct and direct me and fellow discussers to points of interest.

Yet to come, later today: OPENING CHAPTERS and READING QUESTIONS 1

In the meantime:

What expectations do you have for this novel and our discussion, so that I may adequately focus my further preparation?

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