Review | Journal of a Novel :: Witness to the Great American Novel

Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters
John Steinbeck (1969)

Of the books I read last year, East of Eden was my favorite. So, when I learned that author John Steinbeck had kept a writer’s journal in 1951, during the ten months he spent composing the novel, I knew I had to read it too. I’m glad that I did, and so close on the heels of finishing the book, as it perfectly complimented my enjoyment of the novel.

The journal, written as private letters to Steinbeck’s editor friend Pascal Covici, wasn’t intended to be read until after the book was completed. The entries were never intended for publication; they served instead as Steinbeck’s warm-up before each day’s writing and were only made public after his death. Equal parts daily diary, deconstruction of a novel, and glimpse into the mind of a writer working at the peak of his powers, Journal of a Novel is a fascinating companion to the process and the product of East of Eden. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys this book in particular or the author in general.


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