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East of Eden
by John Steinbeck

Ingram:
This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. "A strange and original work of art."--New York Times Book Review.




Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (1 of 14), Read 51 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 24, 2002 08:39 AM PASCAL COVICI 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. JOHN This is the dedication of East of Eden, and is just a taste of the beauty within this book. A modern version of Cain and Abel, and my favorite Steinbeck novel, I'm re-reading it for the third time. I thought I'd ask if anyone would like to join me. It's such a lush, gorgeous novel, that I really think a discussion would be a lot of fun. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (2 of 14), Read 46 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 24, 2002 11:10 AM I failed to locate my copy, so I picked up another at the library yesterday. It's by Vantage, with a long, very interesting preface which I'm still reading. Do you have this preface, Beej? Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (3 of 14), Read 48 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 24, 2002 11:56 AM Ruth, I have the Penguin Books edition, which has a great introduction. Was the preface in your edition written by David Wyatt? Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (4 of 14), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 24, 2002 05:25 PM That's the guy. Very interesting intro, isn't it? So this is your favorite Steinbeck? I have to profess an inordinate fondness for Cannery Row. One of the funniest books I've ever read. I have Steinbeck's collected letters. I should take a peek at the period during which he wrote EofE. But if I don't go to the market now, I will miss the nice young lady who hands out the snacks in Trader Joe's. The sacrifices we shoppers have to make... Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (5 of 14), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 24, 2002 11:43 PM I just finished the beautiful first chapter. It's a wonderful description of the California landscape, right up to the wild fennel. I miss wild fennel. It grows in and around Los Angeles, but it's too hot for it here inland. Steinbeck's writing is so graceful, it's a joy to read. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (6 of 14), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, May 25, 2002 12:44 PM Oh, what a book, what a book! I glanced through Wyatt's intro, Ruth, but will wait until I've finished before reading it. How far are you? I don't want to say much more until I know I'm not spoiling anything for you, but, wow! what a relationship between Adam and Cyrus! And Adam and Charles. I had forgotten we get so much of Adam's childhood history. It'll be interesting to see how that plays into his relationships with his own sons. Jeez, I love this book! Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (7 of 14), Read 34 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, May 25, 2002 01:32 PM Don't worry about spoilers for me, Beej. I've read this at least twice before. I've forgotten the plot, but that doesn't matter. I don't mind being reminded. There are only a few books that are so plot-driven that I wouldn't want to know ahead of time. Is anyone else reading this with us? I'm reading Adam's childhood now. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (8 of 14), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 12:29 AM I'm so glad you talked me into this, Beej. I haven't read Steinbeck in so long, and now I remember all the reasons I was crazy about his writing. So graceful it seems effortless. A gift for the apt and marvellous word or phrase. Not unlike Updike's gifts in these departments, but with a different sensibility. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (9 of 14), Read 33 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 09:18 AM Ruth, I think the central character, around whom the entire book revolves, is Cathy. Is she Eve? Or is she Evil? We have Adam, who really does not acknowledge evil, but who is determined to create an Eden for his Eve. Cathy forces Adam to acknowledge evil. She is the destroyer of life. When Samuel returns from the Trask's farm after finally meeting Cathy, is asked by his wife, Lisa, what Cathy held in her hands, how she kept her hands occupied. Lisa wants to know if she was knitting or darning as a way to learn more about Cathy's wifely interests. As we know Cathy had a knitting needle in her hands only once, and that was to use it as a tool to abort. I think there's tremendous symbolism in that. Steinbeck contrasts Lisa, a mother of nine, a creator of life, with Cathy, who does not even have the ability to produce milk for her newborns, whose own physical being is incapable of nurturing life. Remember when Cathy hit puberty and suddenly her nipples turned inward? From the onset of her womanhood, her body began a denial of her ability to nurture life. What do you think Steinbeck is saying about the inherent nature of women with this novel? Steinbeck is an author whose every sentence, no matter how short, has meaning. Absolutely nothing can be skimmed over. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (10 of 14), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 10:15 AM In the Bible, it says that east of Eden, the garden of Eden, is the land of Nod, the place to which Cain was banished after he had murdered his brother Abel. Each time I've read this book, I've wondered about that. We think of the land of Nod as sleep, but it was more than that. It was a place of exile for Cain, after he committed an act of human destruction. The implications of that, and how it relates to these characters in EofE has always intrigued me. Adam Trask set out to create Eden, and instead, he created Nod. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (11 of 14), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 10:53 AM I read this a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely as I am enjoying this discussion. You make some excellent points, Beej. This idea of starting with Eden and ending with Nod has intrigued me also. In the Bible we are told that Adam and Eve must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but the very command not to eat contains within itself the knowledge of good and evil, that is, to eat of the tree is evil not to eat of it is good. From the moment that God gave the command, Adam and Eve were on the road to Nod. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (12 of 14), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 11:03 AM Thanks, Dean. And if we continue to compare EofE to the book of Genesis, can we not say Cyrus was the symbolic God to this family, the one who first acknowledges the existence of evil to Adam? Cyrus tells Adam he is crueler to him than he is to Charles because he loves Adam more. This is all tied in somehow with God's deepest love for humankind and an intermingling of that love with suffering. I haven't got Steinbeck's meaning with this sorted out in my head yet, but I'm working on it, and believe it's all very relevant to the rest of the novel. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (13 of 14), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 12:26 PM Yes, Cyrus is reminiscent of the Old Testament God but this novel has brought me see this God as more than the giver of tough love to his chosen ones. Steinbeck's beautiful description of the valley and the fate of its inhabitants has brought me to see the Old Testament God as the giver of inequity. God created the valley but some parts are fertile other parts are not; some parts are arid other parts are not. So, I came to see the story of Cain and Able as a moral about how to deal with inequity. It is inevitable that God will favour the offerings of some over the offerings of others. The story advises us not to be angry about this. Genesis 4:5-7 ...but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." I felt that Steinbeck illustrated this by showing how Samuel acted and made his way in life despite having to farm an arid patch of the valley. By the way, "Nod" means "wandering." Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (14 of 14), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 01:01 PM Part of the trouble with Steinbeck's portrayal of Cathy, and of Liza, too, I'd say, is his difficulty with women in general. Can either of you think of a woman in any of Steinbeck's books that has the depth of characterization that the men do. The other trouble is that any time an author attempts a parable, or the rewriting of an ancient parable, characterization suffers. Parables are morality plays. Characters stand for different moral values. Damned hard to write a character with a great deal of depth under that premise. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (15 of 16), Read 3 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 01:36 PM Dean, how apropos that Nod means wandering. These people wandered, not only physically, but emotionally, as well. Perhaps their Nod existed, too, in their hearts. No matter how deeply they desired Eden, they seemed to always attain that place just outside of Eden. Ruth, I'm not there yet, but my recollection of Abra is that she had this sort of depth of characterization. And, I do think Cathy's character has a lot of depth, but I think we hesitate to look her smack in the face. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (16 of 16), Read 2 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 01:40 PM I'm afraid if we looked her smack in the face, she'd just stare back with those opaque eyes. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (17 of 26), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 01:48 PM Did you get to the part where Samuel remembers seeing eyes like that when he was a child? God, that was chilling. You know, I keep wondering how long they were married when Cathy got pregnant. She had sex with Charles right before she married Adam. Could the twins be Charles' children? Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (18 of 26), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 02:55 PM Hmm, that never crossed my mind, but it maybe could be. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (19 of 26), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 04:58 PM Ruth and Dean, There's something that bothers me, here. I know the symbolism is deep, but I just can't tie this together. Maybe y'all can help me. When Cain was exiled to Nod, he was branded. He was his brother's slayer. But, God marked him in order that he be known by this mark and not harmed. It was meant as a badge of protection. Now, here's what I don't get; Charles and Cathy were both 'branded' by a scar on the forehead. What is Steinbeck saying with that? God, there's just so much to try and understand in this book. We've yet to touch on Cain's most known words, and something I feel is the axis on which this story rotates: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (20 of 26), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 06:37 PM This book has fallen short for me on two occasions now. Those being when Hamilton, Trask and Lee sit and discuss the meaning of the Cain and Abel story. I just don't think they're believable scenes. Lee and Hamilton are way too wise to be real. Adam Trask has shown us no philosophical tendencies up to now. I hate it when the author uses his characters as if he were a ventriloquist. Steinbeck should let the writing and the story unfold to show his meaning, not lecture at us from the mouths of his characters. After all, he's loaded this story with enough symbolism to choke an ox. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (21 of 26), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 08:26 PM Part of me agrees with you, Ruth. That entire scene was probably unnecessary. I disagree about Lee, tho. He was a well educated man. I wonder if that Biblical inclusion was a means of balancing things within the novel that Steinbeck might have felt would cause more stoic readers to be up in arms about. I doubt that's the case, tho. Maybe Samuel was merely spouting what he thought Liza wanted him to say. Did you feel it was condescending on Steinbeck's part? I didn't think it detracted a lot from the book, however. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (22 of 26), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 08:54 PM A well-educated man is not necessarily a wise one. But that's not my quarrel with Steinbeck. I just think Lee is way too perfect to be real. Again, that's what happens when you deal in parables where everything stands for something. No, those two scenes haven't ruined the book for me, but I found them unneccessary and tedious. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (23 of 26), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 09:06 PM Yep. I can see your point. I didn't find them tedious but they were probably unnecessary. What is it with Adam? It almost seems as though being physically attacked, first by Charles and then by Samuel, not to mention being shot by Cathy, is just. It's as though he associates pain with affection. And, again, I think this takes us back to his relationship with his father, and Cyrus' claim that he hurts Adam because he loves him the most. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (24 of 26), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 10:45 PM Interesting. I hadn't thought of it that way. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (25 of 26), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 11:24 PM Very good, Beej. The marks on the foreheads of Charles and Cathy showed that they had more in common with Cain than his first initial. They are of a kind. I would say, however, that Cathy was devoured early in her life by "the beast at the door," while Charley struggled to master it all his life. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (26 of 26), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 08:33 AM Of course, Dean! Thanks. I should have realized that. But, instead, and even though he shares his initial with Abel, I was thinking of Adam as an exiled Cain, because he was the one who, at least on the surface, seemed to be in the land of Nod. Cathy is about as an intriguing character as there is in all literature. Steinbeck says, in the beginning of the chapter that introduces us to Cathy: 'I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents and no one's fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishments for concealed sins. And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?' And so, we have in Cathy, an inherently evil woman, born with a malformed soul; a monster. And this is how she differs from both Cain and Charles. Their malformed souls were a result of sibling rivalry. It was a product of a desperate and painful belief that their fathers, their God, in essence, loved a sibling more. But, I tend to want to go on, and to compare Cathy less to Cain and more to Eve. Was Eve (womankind) the possessor of an inherent malformed soul? A monster who destroyed her Adam (mankind) with the forbidden fruit? Did Cain inherit his ability to destroy life from Eve? (Steinbeck would not be the first author to include such an idea in a novel. Faulkner did this, too, in 'The Sound and the Fury.' the idea that women were inherently evil.) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (27 of 31), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 09:36 PM Ruth, how far along are you? I've just finished the section where Adam goes to see Cathy/Kate at the whore house. So, she only had sex ONCE with her husband?? (God, she is cruel!) And I don't think she's certain who the father of those twins is, either. What a nasty witch. First she tells Adam she slept with Charles and then she tells him she could have fallen in love with his brother. and then after THAT double whammy, she tries to get Adam in the sack. (I really was surprised he didn't take her up on it.) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (28 of 31), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 12:17 AM I'm farther along, now. Just passed the place where Cal finds out about Kate. The book is slowing down for me. The more earnestly Steinbeck preaches, the more I drag my heels. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (29 of 31), Read 31 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 07:52 AM I know what you mean, but the book always picks up for me with the introduction of Abra. I can't read this novel without thinking of one particular 'badboy.' (and, I am such a sucker for these badboys..) For me, he's what 'East of Eden' is ALL about. James Dean as Cal Trask Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (30 of 31), Read 14 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 09:53 AM Just for the heck of it, here's the original French movie poster for EofE, where Dean got top billing, even over the title: Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (31 of 31), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 10:52 AM If I ever saw this movie, I've forgotten it. HOW could I have forgotten James Dean??? But I thought Cal was supposed to be dark, and Aron was the blond. So far I'm not charmed by Abra. Now that Hamilton is dead, she and Lee seem to have cornered the market on wisdom. It's a bit much for me. Funny, I know I've read this book twice before, yet the one I'm reading now sure is different from the ones I read then. For one thing, I remembered most of the book as being taken up with the Aron/Cal thing -- and now I find it's just a small portion. Funny how books change. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (32 of 41), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 02:42 PM How funny you say that, Ruth, because I always think of East of Eden as Cal/Abra's story, too! In fact, I had forgotten most of Adam and Charles' story! Oh, I do so love this book. The writing is just such a melody, and I'm in 7th heaven. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (33 of 41), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 04:09 PM Did I say Cal/Abra? I meant Cal/Aron. I'd forgotten Abra, too. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (34 of 41), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 08:32 PM Finished this afternoon. I love the way Steinbeck handles language, especially when he's not speechifying. It was the speechifying that did me in on this go round. I kept thinking that this would have been a deeper book, if instead of trying to TELL us all this stuff, Steinbeck had just shut up and let his story do its work, and let us do our own work as readers. I've been a major Steinbeck fan in the past, so it bothers me that I didn't on the whole like this book as much as I expected to. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (35 of 41), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 01:43 AM This is the only book of Steinbeck's which I have read and then only once. I enjoyed its avuncular quality and I accepted the speechifying as part of its charm but I think that I might feel the same as you, Ruth, if I were to re-read it. Does he do better in his other books? Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (36 of 41), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 02:12 AM I didn't mind the avuncular parts, I found them charming, too. It was the heavy-duty philosphical discussions, and the extended explanations of his characters' psyches that got me down. I've read almost all of Steinbeck, and I don't remember this ventriloquistic philosophising or charater analysis as being part of any others. Tortilla Flats and Sweet Thursday are a couple of the funniest books I've ever read. I love them. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (37 of 41), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 10:46 AM I see what you mean, Ruth. I will make a point of reading those other Steinbeck titles. "Cannery Row" was also mentioned earlier in this thread as being humourous. I'm looking forward to reading all of them. I thought that the part in EoE when the old woman was taken on a plane ride was very funny. It reminded me of Garrison Keillor. On a more serious note, I thought that the refusal by Adam of Cal's money was interesting. Adam treated the money as ill gotten. Steinbeck seems to be saying that evil can arise from good intentions. The man who brought Cal into the deal seems to me to be compared to the serpent in the garden. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (38 of 41), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 11:31 AM I never thought of it that way. It was a business deal like many others. What the incident did to me was expose Adam for an unfeeling, self-rightious jerk. He took the money from his father, burying all idea that it might be tainted. But he wouldn't take this gesture from his own son. Honesty and uprightedness can be carried way too far. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (39 of 41), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 11:37 AM Ruth, I am doing this from memory having read the book about 4 years ago. Was the money from Adam's father tainted? Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (40 of 41), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 12:41 PM After he died, everyone was surprised that he had something like 100 thou packed away. No explanation as to where it came from. Charles was convinced it was ill-begotten. Adam was all for taking the bucks, and they did. I saw this, and its mirror in the Cal money, as two sides of the same coin. And at the end of the book Adam admits he's come to believe his father was a thief. It goes a ways to explain why he didn't take Cal's money. Seems to me Adam's refusal to take the gift his son has offered, is an example of how even the most honorable motives, if held to rigidly, can be wrong. There could have been justification in not taking the father's money, but there's no justification for slapping your children in the face with your "honor." Ruth, in Redlands, where it's fixin' to hit 103 today
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (41 of 41), Read 1 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 09:49 AM Thanks, Ruth. I think that Adam couldn't accept Cal's money because, he felt that the farmer's had been treated unfairly. Wasn't the the deal similar to insider trading? Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (42 of 57), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 11:31 AM I realized that's how Cal felt, yet there are times when people are more important than principles. (Not sure if it was insider trading or just a commodities deal like people do today when they buy up futures in pork bellies.) Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (43 of 57), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 01:03 PM My life just hasn't been my own to sit and read the way I'd like lately, so I still have about 40 pages to read before I'm finished. Remember in the beginning of the book when Charles gave Cyrus a beautiful and expensive knife and Adam gave him a puppy? Cyrus put the knife away and never used it. Charles was hurt and took it that Cyrus simply didn't love him as much as he loved Adam. And because of that, Charles beat the living daylights out of Adam. This business about Cal giving Adam the money is history repeating itself. Adam said he didn't want it because it was money gained from feeding the soldiers Adam had sent to the frontline. But if the truth be known, I think it was because he simply loved Aron better, at least that's how I think Cal thought of it. Cal didn't beat up his brother physically; he beat him up emotionally in the way he knew he could best destroy Aron..by taking him to meet Kate. After Adam refused the money, Lee talks to Cal about Adam: ' He couldn't help it. That's not his nature. He didn't have any choice..' And I thought to myself, "No! That's a bunch of bullcrap..", because, remember...TIMSHEL..Thou mayest. Thou mayest choose what is good over what isn't. Adam chose to do what he knew was wrong. How could he help but know it was wrong to refuse that gift? He had suffered retribution from Charles because of a very similar poor choice made by Cyrus. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (44 of 57), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 04:04 PM Exactly, Beej. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (45 of 57), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 06:23 PM I agree that to refuse the gift was hurtful especially as he gave Cal no explanation, if I recall correctly. That bothered me more than the refusal. If he had sat down with Cal and explained to him his feelings about being on the draft board and accepting the money, he and Cal could have become closer. If I were Adam, I would have accepted the money and I would have used it to help the families of the those whom I had sent to war. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (46 of 57), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 07:32 PM The perfect solution, Dean, which makes you a better man than Adam. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (47 of 57), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 08:27 PM Adam did give Cal a reason: "I send boys out....I sign my name and they go out. And some of them will die and some will lie helpless without arms and legs. Not one will come back untorn. So, do you think I could take a profit on that?" But, I really think that's a big pile of bullcrap...The root of it all, I really believe, is that Will Hamilton had advised Adam to sell beans, Adam instead tried to ship lettuce to the east and lost his shirt in the bargain. I think Adam wanted to belittle Cal for making wiser business decisions than he did. Plain and simply, Cal showed his father up. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (48 of 57), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 08:32 PM Oh, btw, Ruth..I gotta tell you..as much as I liked Lee (and I really liked Lee a lot) and as much as I love this book (and I really think this novel is magnificent) I began to get a little tired of Lee's intellectualizing by the time I reached the end of the book. Of all the characters in here, I liked Cathy/Kate the best. She was just so rotten, so vile, so narcissistic, so mean, so greedy, such a monster, that I really enjoyed hating her! Steinbeck kept describing Kathy's little fang teeth and pointed little tongue..reminding me of the serpent in the garden of Eden. What did y'all think about Steinbeck's including himself, as well as his sister, mother and dad, as characters? (I should do a little researching and see if his mother was really named Olive Hamilton.) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (49 of 57), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 10:31 PM I did and she was. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (50 of 57), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 10:36 PM I wonder if the story of Samuel Hamilton and his family is based on truth. Ruth, you wouldn't be willing to do an entire genealogy check on the Hamilton side of the Steinbeck family, would you? (just kidding..) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (51 of 57), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, May 31, 2002 10:49 PM i just did a quick check and, yep, Samuel Hamilton was, indeed, John Steinbeck's grandaddy and, according to this article: 'One of Steinbeck's main intentions in writing his globally acclaimed book East Of Eden the film version made a cult figure of actor James Dean was to tell the story of his maternal family, the Hamiltons.' http://www.newsletter.co.uk/fullfeatures.asp?DJID=4345 Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (52 of 57), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 01:09 AM I only got the Penguin edition with David Wyatt's introduction the other day. I was just overcome by the beauty of Steinbeck's writing. This book has a special meaning for me. I spent about 4 years in the Monterey area during the Korean conflict and got myself a moonlighting job in Salinas teaching a JC class. One of the lady students once asked me if I had read any Steinbeck and I probably mentioned Cannery Row. But she went on to tell me that Steinbeck was a long time friend. But there is more to be said about the scenery and beauty and Salinas Valley and the Monterey peninsula... East of Eden so far appears superior to the other Steinbeck books that I remember reading years ago. Also it's quite a change from reading Capote. Ernie
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (54 of 57), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 10:21 AM Ernie, I'm SO glad you're joining in this with us! I really look forward to your thoughts on these characters. Aren't you a psychologist? Are there really people born with a spiritual flaw? Emotional monsters, as Steinbeck claims? And, is Steinbeck correct when he says there is only one story in life, that the single human story is that of a seeking of love, especially the love of a parent? Isn't the Salinas Valley the locale for Grapes of Wrath, too? Ruth, I went on a Steinbeck marathon when I was 20 or so, but I can't remember reading Tortilla Flats or Sweet Thursday. I remember I wasn't too gung-ho over Cannery Row, loved Grapes of Wrath (isn't that the story of the Joads?) but always, ALWAYS considered EofE to be my favorite Steinbeck. Between TF and ST, which would you consider to be the better book? I'd love to discuss another Steinbeck. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (55 of 57), Read 14 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 02:07 PM Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday are a series of 2. I read them years and years and years ago during my own Steinbeck Period. Reread them a couple of years ago on tape. It is a most excellent tape. Perfect. I'd have to check with the library to find out which reader/company it was. Tortilla Flats - I have the feeling that this one wouldn't stand up to the PC Filter nowadays. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (56 of 57), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dottie Randall Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 03:57 PM Ruth -- have you read Boyle's The Tortilla Curtain? I am wondering how a reading of Steinbeck's Tortilla Flats would hold paired with The Tortilla Curtain -- maybe Dale has read the Steinbeck -- I am certain he read the Boyle book. It might be an interesting comparison of time frames in regard to topic treatment. Haven't had the chance to check out the Steinbeck holdings in the Bib yet but will grab East of Eden if it is on the shelf. Have been enjoying eavesdropping on this discussion. Dottie "Only there's now, and now, And the wind in the grass." from An Eternity, Archibald MacLeish
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (2 of 23), Read 50 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 04:35 PM Gosh! I've been playing 'On The Water' and forgot to go back and read that intro for EofE! I'll go do that now. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (3 of 23), Read 50 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 07:09 PM Thanks, Beej and Ruth for reminding me of the details of this story. I'm enjoying sharing ideas with you. I am left with the conclusion that Adam had options and that he "mayest" have reacted differently to Cal's gift but chose the most evil one. I was a bit surprised to see Steinbeck's mention of "born monsters" as it seems to contradict the notion of "thou mayest" which seems central to the book. Even Kate, if I recall correctly, is not born evil but becomes evil after being horribly abused as a child. If we say that a child is too young to choose, children always imitate which also contradicts the notion of "born monster." So, Steinbeck's quote seems to confuse rather than enlighten the book for me. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (4 of 23), Read 56 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 08:13 PM '. I am left with the conclusion that Adam had options and that he "mayest" have reacted differently to Cal's gift but chose the most evil one. Dean, I agree with you. Adam was supposed to be the 'good' brother, but he CHOSE to react in a way that was most harmful. And, the worst thing about it was that he knew! He knew because he lived through it with his own father and brother. And how appalling it was that Lee, of all people, told Cal his father had no choice! Why did he do that? He knew better, too! Timshel! Lee was the one who searched for the true meaning of that Hebrew word! And we know Lee knew better, because of what he did during Adam's death scene! Was Cathy abused as a child?? I don't remember that, but to tell the truth, I cannot remember much interaction that she had as a child with her father. I remember stuff that happened with her mother, but now I almost feel as if I simply blotted out any memory of her dad! What a great point you make comparing the inevitability of a born monster with the idea of Thou mayest. Wow! Do you think Cathy was capable of making choices that were not rooted in evil? Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (5 of 23), Read 53 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 08:55 PM Beej, that's an excellent point that Adam should have known better. Cathy had long ago stopped loving. It always seemed to have been a cage for her from which to break out or to avoid but I think that her encounter with her son in the end does produce a flicker of affection in her and she does choose to do something good. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (6 of 23), Read 57 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 09:26 PM By good do you mean leaving her money to Cal? But then what about Aron? She knows nothing really of either boy, she's in no position to judge whether there's any justification for cutting out Aron. It may provide a nice mirror image of what Adam did, but I don't think it absolves Cathy at all. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (7 of 23), Read 66 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 09:35 PM I thought she left the money to Aron. Somehow, he touched a chord in her, but God knows why. He was soft and fragile and it seemed Cathy abhorred that in others. She's such an interesting, complex character...she saw herself in Cal, and at first admired him, as she did Charles. But, when he brought Aron to see her and what she was, she hated him. You know, that's a really interesting question..Why DID she leave Aron (at least, I'm pretty certain it was Aron) that money? Did she do that to drive a wedge between the brothers, to make Cal hate his brother? I have a difficult time thinking she really softened toward Aron. She saw her own blond looks in him, his physical beauty, and was attracted to him because of that, but I don't think she softened toward, or had any altruistic motives for anything she ever did. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (8 of 23), Read 58 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, June 01, 2002 10:45 PM She left it to Aron? How could I have made that mistake? Sheesh. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (9 of 23), Read 60 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Sunday, June 02, 2002 01:29 AM Ruth, what I meant was that for the first time she made some connection with another person. She even feels a hint of loss and remorse. That the book shows us this aspect of Cathy seems to be saying that even the most evil person is capable of feeling some humanity and seems to again contradict Steinbeck's quote about the "born monster." Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (10 of 23), Read 65 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Sunday, June 02, 2002 05:18 PM I've just gotten around to reading Wyatt's introduction, or at least starting it, and I think part of our answer to the questions concerning Cathy, are right here, in the beginning of the intro. Apparently this born monster issue is one that has been debated since EofE was first published. Steinbeck says Cathy is the flip side of the saints, a "TOTAL REPRESENTATIVE OF SATAN," to quote Steinbeck, himself. He goes on to liken her to Melville's white whale, and through this, I can begin to see what he means. What she is, and she is pure evil, is a product of her nature, just as Moby was what he was. Cathy may have also been ABLE, to choose good over evil, but in doing that, she would have gone against the total and complete nature of everything she was; in essence, it would have contradicted everything she was. (And, when you think of it, even Satan had the choice between good and evil.) Timshel applied to Cathy, too, but I think what made her a born monster was that by her very nature, she would always choose the dark side. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (11 of 23), Read 64 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernest Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 12:48 AM Beej, Ruth & all, This is my first day (evening) on the new board. It looks familiar and is not intimidating. I am continuing (in my own slow fashion) reading East of Eden and feel overwhelmed by the beauty and wisdom of the author. Beej, to answer your question: Yes I am a retired psychologist but try to keep up with research and new development. There is no question that there are people who are born or develop spiritual flaws even of the worst magnitude. These people are totally amazing by being so different. Many hide their serious flaws, others exhibit them openly. They range from mild to gruesome. The other question: Do all people seek love I am not sure about. Normal average people yes but there are exceptions and some people are terrified of love. The secret of a happy life is probably to be at least moderately successful in this search and not expect too much of a good thing. Goethe says something like that in his final lines of Faust. I am not sure about the location of The Grapes of Wrath. Can't remember it any more. I do know the location of Cannery Row and may still be there, namely in Monterey where the fish processing plants were located. The buildings, the last I saw of them, contain all sorts of stores now. A fantastic sea world aquarium is located there as well. I hope we will have a chance to look around the area about two weeks from now when we are driving from San Francisco to Santa Barbara where my grand daughter will be getting her degree. Ernie
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (12 of 23), Read 68 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 12:08 PM Thanks, Ernie. The character of Cathy absolutely fascinates me. I would consider her an accurate portrayal of a sociopath, and as such, I did a little bit of research on the sociopathic personality, and what I found would be quite relevant here, i think. First off, I found this: ' The causes are often "poor parental discipline, association with "bad" kids, and poor bonding with parents..." [Heller, 75]. But the causes can also be mostly biological.' This says to me that Steinbeck (as well as Ernie) is correct insofar as there really is such a thing as a 'born monster,' someone biologically deficient in human emotions. As for 'timshel' and how it might apply to someone like Cathy, I found this...and the caps are the author's, not mine: ' some psychopaths appear to show some insight into their own personality make-up ; however, this does not really mean that they care how they behave. THEY CHOOSE TO BEHAVE THIS WAY.' And, to top it off, and something I think has extremely great bearing on this story, here is a trait of a sociopath: 'a person lacking eros..' If Steinbeck's claim, that happiness is greatly based on parental love, is true, can you imagine the impact on a child of a sociopath; a person devoid of eros, as defined as the ability to love outside of oneself? And, as Wyatt says in his intro to EofE; 'The only love one feels is the love one feels FOR someone else.' Ernie, is a sociopath capable of making selfless choices based on a love for someone outside of themselves? Dean believes Cathy began to feel something for Aron, and I do remember Cathy experiencing something she was not familiar with in regards to Aron, something she found to be confusing. And, last, what is the difference between eros and self-love? Is self love merely 'ego' and eros a love for that which is outside of one's self? (until I began to read up on this sociopath stuff, I had always thought of 'eros' as a romantic love.) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (13 of 23), Read 48 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernest Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Friday, June 07, 2002 12:51 AM Beej, You hit on some very complex problems in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. Up to perhaps 10 years ago next to nothing was known of the functions of the brain except for descriptive brain anatomy and certain centers (language for instance. Brain injuries made things even more confusing since two people having the same identical injury may show very different symptoms. Freud and his school as well as the Jungians only theorized or should I say fantasized about he nature of the brain. Well we now can watch the brain in action, problem solving, etc. by means of brain scans and similar devices. We are now able to observe the circuitry of thoughts and especially problem solving. We know that if one part of the brain becomes dysfunctional new circuitry evolves. One of the newer theories about psychopathy claims that the thought and problem circuits do not tie to the fore brain which provides "judgment". Also there are brain hormones and neurotransmitters which have important functions. Of course what I just wrote are oversimplifications of an area of which I know but little. But the future will offer new and amazing insights into our thought processes. To me there is nothing more complex, intricate and magical than the brain. When it comes to complexity it beats computers a million to one. Ernie
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (14 of 23), Read 57 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, June 07, 2002 08:12 AM Thanks, Ernie. How INCREDIBLY fascinating. I gather what you're saying is that the brain is simply too complicated, too individually unique and there are just too many variables to give a sweeping answer to my question, " is a sociopath capable of making selfless choices based on a love for someone outside of themselves?" I've just finished reading 'In Cold Blood,' and one of the psychiatric evaluations of, I believe, Perry Hickock, who was a paranoid schizophrenic, was that his thoughts were completely disassociated from his feelings. It sounds to me that this falls precisely in with what you write...'One of the newer theories about psychopathy claims that the thought and problem circuits do not tie to the fore brain which provides "judgment".' Cathy was a 'born monster,' her brain born disfunctional. I wonder, if someone is BORN with this sort of disfunction, is it still possible for new brain circuitry to evolve? My instincts tell me 'no' (how can the brain try to 'repair' itself when it has nothing to compare itself to for reference? It seems to me that the brain would have no way to know it's 'broken' and needs repaired.) And if that's correct, I don't see how Cathy could have possibly made her decision to leave Aron her estate based on any altruistic motivation. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (15 of 23), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, June 10, 2002 10:02 PM Ruth, just to let you know, on your recommendation, I picked up 'Cannery Row.' I read it a long, long time ago, and have vague memories of not caring for it as much as I did EofE or 'Grapes of Wrath,' but maybe now that I'm older, I'll see it in a different light. Did you say 'Sweet Thursday' was the sequel to 'Cannery Row?' That's one I've not read. (Dean, would you be up to another Steinbeck, by any chance?) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (16 of 23), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 01:22 AM Yes, Beej, I would love to discuss another work by Steinbeck. Any one which you choose would be fine with me. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (17 of 23), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 07:38 AM Oh, thank you! I have both 'Grapes of Wrath' and 'Cannery Row.' GofW is a long book, Cannery Row is much shorter, so why don't you decide which would be better for you, and I'll follow suit. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (18 of 23), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 11:04 AM OK, let's discuss "Cannery Row" because in August I will be moving to what was formerly Vancouver's cannery row. I hope that you enjoy it more this time than you did before. I'll start reading as soon as I get it from the library this evening. This will be my first read of this. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (19 of 23), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 11:53 AM Okay, 'Cannery Row' it is then! There are only 185 pages in this one, so we can get through it in no time. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (20 of 23), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:04 PM There's an absolutely outstanding audiobook of Cannery Row. A perfect reading of this hilarious book. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (21 of 23), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:08 PM I have never listened to an audio book in my life! I've got the trade paperback of 'Cannery Row,' but maybe the time has come for me to try the audio book route. Ruth, is 'Sweet Thursday' a sequel to this one? Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (22 of 23), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:13 PM Do 'em both, Beej. Different experiences. And the audio's only 4 tapes. I just checked our library, the audiobook is narrated by Jerry Farden, Recorded Books, Inc., 1989. Yes, Sweet Thursday comes next. Ruth
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (23 of 23), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:22 PM Okay, thanks, will do! I just checked my library, and it does, indeed, have the audio book narrated by Farden. Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (24 of 28), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 01:24 AM I picked up the book from the library today. I just looked and I see that they have the audio version as well. I'll listen to it after I finished reading it. Thanks for the recommendation, Ruth. Beej, when did you want to start the discussion? Is Monday June 17 a good date? Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (25 of 28), Read 45 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 07:48 AM Sure! June 17th is fine with me. I haven't picked up the audiobook yet, but I'll do that today or tomorrow and while I'm at it, I'll get 'Sweet Thursday' too. I'll start a new thread on 'Cannery Row' in the next couple of days so we can discuss it as we go along. If anybody else would like to join us, this book only has 185 pages and I think we can have fun with it. (Steinbeck's books are easy reading, but say a lot, and his writing is really lyrically beautiful.) Beej
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (26 of 28), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 11:16 AM Thanks, Beej. Your description of Steinbeck's writing is excellent and is confirmed from the opening pages of "Cannery Row." Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (27 of 28), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 01:25 PM The 42nd Street Moon is a San Francisco theatrical company devoted to producing "old" musicals in bare-boards fashion with lots of enthusiasm. They put on about six or eight shows a year using various local performers. The company is a poor man's version of New York City's Encores company. Last Sunday I saw their production of Pipe Dreams, an Rodgers & Hammerstein musical based on STEINBECK'S SWEET THURSDAY. Great fun. Good performance. Note: The opera singer, Helen Traubel, appeared in the original NY production - played the Madame of the local whorehouse. Wasn't suited to the part. Isolde is a Madame? pres
Topic: East of Eden - John Steinbeck (28 of 28), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 02:39 PM Pres, I hope you'll stick around when we get to reading and discussing 'Sweet Thursday.' It'll be fun to hear how the stage handles various scenes from this one! Beej

 

 

 
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