Sunday, June 26, 2011

East of Eden

I finished my first book of the summer, John Steinbecks' East of Eden. Wonderful read.

With the title, the fact that the featured protagonist was named Adam, and his twin sons Aron and Cal I guess it was more than a little obvious that the novel would follow the outlines of the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel. Surely enough, the last third of the work often harkened back to a key word from that Old Testament tale. Even the final word of the novel is the Hebrew word at the crux of the story from Genesis.

What reading this novel reminded me of is the power of allusion and reference. A literacy guru spoke to our faculty last year, talking how need to promote the idea that we learn so that we might read, rather than read so that we might learn. He stressed the importance of us teaching history and current events so that our students' heads would contain reservoirs of information to make sense of the reading they will undertake in their lifetimes. One can read and understand the Steinbeck's East of Eden without ever having read the Bible. But the experience is so much more powerful if one knows that great story of morality found in Genesis.

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