"I think I know better what I am doing than most writers but it still isn't much.  I don't know why I am thinking now of criticism since I will not let it change one single thing about the story or the method."

— John Steinbeck (1951), Journal of a Novel (First Published by The Viking Press, 1969)

"The merits of so ambitious and absorbing a book are sure to be widely and hotly debated.  ...There is no question that Mr. Steinbeck has written an intensely interesting and impressive book"

— Joseph Wood Krutch, The New York Herald Tribune Book World(1969)

Later that year, The New York Times Book Review polled celebrities for their favorite books.  Author Barnaby Conrad chose East of Eden, and in a letter to him, Steinbeck declared: “I am pleased you like Eden. It’s is doing better than I had dared to hope.  It is our tendency to think when critics do not like our work that they have a scunner [something that sickens, disgusts or bores].  I guess I just don’t bring out the best in critics.” 

A Life in Letters (New York: The Viking Press, 1975)

“The prose of East of Eden alternates between pseudo-poetry and an abandoned, unstudied carelessness incapable of organizing the sprawling materials...Steinbeck fails because his characters are neither credible as individuals nor effective as types, but are an incongruous mixture of both.”  

— Peter Lisca, The Wide World of John Steinbeck (1975)  

“I am playing all around in time with the Hamilton sections.  By this method I hope to get over a kind of veracity which would be impossible with straight-line narrative.  But oh! Jesus am I going to catch critical hell for it.”

— John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel (1951)  

“Steinbeck is not one of the inescapable American novelists of our century; he cannot be judged in close relation to Cather, Dreiser and Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, Ralph Ellison and Thomas Pynchon... Nothing after The Grapes of Wrath, including East of Eden, bears re-reading.”  

— Harold Bloom, ed., John Steinbeck (1987)  

“Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches—nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tin-horn mendicants of low-calorie despair.”  

— John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize in Literature Acceptance Speech (1962)  

East of Eden may be the most misunderstood of all of Steinbeck’s creations. It is a work that illustrates the author’s desire and courage, at the apex of his career, to explore newer territory, to make his real subject the creative consciousness that had led his already through a stunningly successful career of fiction-making.” 

— Louis Owens, “Steinbeck’s East of Eden (1955) in A New Study Guide to Steinbeck’s Major Works (1993)  

“This morning I looked at the Saturday Review, read a few notices of recent books, not mine, and came up with the usual sense of horror.  One should be a reviewer or a better critic, these curious sucker fish who live whit joyous vicariousness on other men’s work and discipline with dreary words the thing which feeds them.”  

— John Steinbeck Journal of a Novel

“The Mark of an intriguing novel, much like a fine trout stream, it seems to me now, is its capacity to surprise us on each subsequent reading by revealing greater depths, successive unfolding, new flashes of color, motion and brilliance, without ever giving up its true meaning, if in fact a novel—or a river—can ever be said to have one true meaning. East of Eden continues to impress me as such a wonder book, because it is a landscape of incandescent words, a torrent of mutable meaning.”  

— Robert DeMott, Steinbeck’s Typewriter (1996)  


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