“Steinbeck Is Sincere” — William T. Vollmann on East of Eden

William Vollmann writes about John Steinbeck’s East of Eden (excerpted from Imperial via Expelled from Eden)—

The book of his which I admire the most is East of Eden. For a decade now the character of Kate, whom some critics find unconvincing has haunted my head; she’s horrific, she’s pathetic, she’s steady and successful and lonely; she is perfectly what she is. The retelling of the Cain and Abel story is brilliant, the landscape descriptions lovely and lush, the plotting as careful and convincing as the best of George Eliot. And of course there’s a message, a flaw, personified by a Chinese servant who tells us, sometimes at great length, what to think. But Lee has never annoyed me. He speechifies intelligently, at times wittily, and sometimes compassionately. Do I care that nobody I’ve ever met talks like that? He is sincere because Steinbeck is sincere. And this is what I love about Steinbeck most of all, his sincerity.

2 comments

  1. Brooks · October 6, 2011

    That’s a wonderful quote. Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers and East of Eden is one of my top five favorite novels. I think Vollmann really captured the essence of Steinbeck. He was incredibly sincere and all he loved each of his characters.

    Like

    • Biblioklept · October 6, 2011

      I love Steinbeck; I think he’s one of the most underrated and underappreciated American writers. My fave is Of Mice and Men; In Dubious Battle is also good.

      Like

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