East of Eden


Many moons ago I read or rather I was forced to read John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. A book that was given to struggling students of the English language. A course that strangled struggling first year students. The pearl survived the reader. I grew up in a family and environment wavering on the outside of the English world. We were the Boere and the English were the Rooinekke. It wasn’t said aloud, it wasn’t advocated, it was just around us – or was it in us? Audibly visible in the air we breathed, in the food we ate, in the people we were friends with, and gestalted in the books we read. Outside on the margin of our language this second language looked dauntingly upon me, haunted me, invited me, and yet remained aloof. The spoken word was a closed book. Period. Force fed book covers and condensed Reader’s Digest versions gave glimpses of the written word – only to satisfy a required school reading list.  I remember reading dictionaries to study the words. I never finished the letter A.  I remember giving directions in this language:  “Turn right to your left, up down there.” A big A and a small e were my pass rates for languages.  Grace saved me from no e at all.  The symbols fitted my profile and my profile fitted the symbols.  

That was then. I married an Englishman. His Afrikaans improved. Then I started homeschooling. I read and implemented Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. My world changed. 

I entered the blogworld today to share some words from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden but got sidetracted. I’m not explaining the words, they can speak for themself (or is it themselves?).

That’s why I’m talking to you. You are one of the rare people who can seperate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.

I was shuffling over half a hundred questions. What you said brings the brightest one up.

If  I slip, just remember that I’m a comical genius. It’s hard to split a man down the middle and always to reach for the same half.


To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.

~ Gaston Bachelard ~



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