Registrar Brian Mahoney 
Great Books Council of San Francisco

Caroline Van Howe, Coordinator, can be reached at 415-453-1014.


Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 9:00 AM PDT
Sunday, July 15, 2018 at 1:00 PM PDT

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Vallombrosa Center 
250 Oak Grove Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Driving Directions 

Long Novel Weekend 2018

This year we will discuss East of Eden

By John Steinbeck

In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden "the first book," and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth.  Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two familites - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.  Steinbeck himself said of the book, “It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years. I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this."

The masterpiece of Steinbeck's later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of love's absence.  Adapted for the 1955 film directed by Elia Kazan introducting James Dean and red by thousdands as the book that brought Oprah's Book Club back, East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.

On Saturday afternoon we will be viewing the Kazan film version ofthe book with a short discussion after. Saturday evening we will be having a special guest speaker:  Susan Shillinglaw, Director of the National Steinbeck 

Center in Salinas.  Susan has served on the NSC board, helped coordinate SteinbeckFestivals, and was NSC Scholar in Residence from 2005 to the present. She spent most of her career as a Professor of English at San Jose State University,where she was the President’s Scholar for 2012-13. Susan also directed the San Jose State University Steinbeck Center for 18 years.  Shillinglaw has been teaching and writing about

Steinbeck for 27 years and has never tired of either man or writer.

We will use the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics paperback edition with an introduction by David Wyatt, published October 1, 1992.  ISBN-10:0140186395   ISBN-13"978-0140186390                                          

The Location:Enjoy a Great Books weekend at the beautiful Vallombrosa Center ( conveniently located in a quiet corner of Menlo Park easily accessible by car or by public transportation. Each room at  Vallombrosa has a private bath. 

The Weekend: Vallombrosa building
Plan to arrive about 9:15 AM Saturday.  There will be three discussions of East of Eden, four fine meals, entertainment, Saturday afternoon film viewing and a special speaker and gathering on Saturday evening.  And there will be plenty of free time for exploring or relaxing. Our program will  conclude after lunch on Sunday.

Weekend Costs Per Person:

  • $220.00 per person, Double Occupancy Rooms
  • $240.00 per person, Single Occupancy Rooms
  • $170.00 per person, For those not staying overnight (includes Sat. lunch & dinner & Sun. lunch).
Deadline for Registration:  June 13, 2018
For a printable registration form for registering by postal mail CLICK HERE.

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