East of Eden - John Steinbeck 1952 - The Viking Press, New York - First Trade Edition, First Issue Steinbeck ‘considered Eden to be his magnum opus, the crowning achievement of his life's work.

‘The subject is the only one man has ever used as his theme - the existence, the balance, the battle, and the victory in the permanent war between wisdom and ignorance, light and darkness - good and evil.’


‘I have written each book as an exercise, as practice for the one to come. And this is the one to come. There is nothing beyond this book-nothing follows it. It must contain all in the world I know and it must have everything in it of which I am capable’.

- John Steinbeck writing to his editor and publisher Pat Covici,
The East of Eden Letters.
  Similar to how Steinbeck spent years researching and reflecting on Zapata, and similar to how Steinbeck gradually put pieces together for The Grapes of Wrath in the 1930's, the writer let East of Eden gestate in his mind for decades. He thus “nurtured' it 'all of his life and? [it] seemed to grow with him until the time of writing was at hand” ? [To] one correspondent, Steinbeck placed East of Eden in the context of his life and work, concluding, “That earlier work was practice for this? The rest was practice”. In another letter, Steinbeck asserted, “I still think it is The Book, as far as I am concerned. Always before I have held something back for later. Nothing is held back here. This is not practice for a future. This is what I have practiced for?”’ (Michael Price, John Steinbeck, Pascal Covici The East of Eden Letters)

Provenance: Small booksellers label of Paul Elder’s Books, San Francisco, to rear.

References: Goldstone & Payne,
Catalogue of the Adrian H. Goldstone Collection, A32b. Morrow, Collection of Books & Manuscripts, 218, Callil & Toibin, Modern Library (200 Best Novels in English since 1950), 167.

First Edition Points: There was a signed limited edition of 1500 copies printed [without dust jacket and housed in slipcase]. This is considered the first trade edition with the following points - ‘First published by The Viking Press in September 1952’ on the copyright page with no statements of subsequent printing dates. ‘1952’ on title page. First state with ‘bite’ on page 281, line 38 [second state corrected to ‘bight’ although this has been disputed]. First edition dust jacket with only a photograph of Steinbeck on the rear panel and no reviews.

Thick octavo (book size 22x14.7cm), pp. [6] 602. In publisher’s pale green cloth, spine with label blocked in red-brown with black lettering and border, front board lettered in dark green, pale yellow top stain. Dust jacket priced ‘$4.50’ to upper corner of front flap.
  Condition: Fine, in near fine dust jacket, minor rubbing to spine ends and corners, light spotting to rear flap along top edge and fold.   Ref: 110084   Price: HK$ 15,000