“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”
Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”
Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’”
– John Steinbeck, East of Eden
East of Eden is my favorite book of all time, and I knew the moment I first read these three paragraphs that I had encountered something profound. I think the words “thou mayest” are emblematic of the balance of free will, equal parts all-encompassing possibility and personal morality, and that’s an emblem I don’t mind having on my body forever. 2012 was the year of no regrets, and getting my first tattoo hasn’t upset the year’s theme: I love my tattoo, and I’m glad I did it. Now, on to the next.
My tattoo was done by Chris at Liberty Tattoo in Seattle, Washington.
Posted in 24 Before 25, Literary Giants, The Life de la Kendall
Tagged 24 before 25, east of eden, free will, freedom, john steinbeck, liberty tattoo, morality, possibility, regret, tattoo, thou mayest
via No Small Dreams
Favorite book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Least favorite book: The Island by Victoria Hislop. Terrible.
Book that makes you laugh out loud: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Book that makes you cry: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Book you wish you could live in: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Favorite young adult book: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Book that you can quote/recite: The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger
Book that scares you: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Book that makes you sick: Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. That may be my second least favorite book.
Book that changed your life: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Book from your favorite author: Satan Says by Sharon Olds
Book that is most like your life: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Book whose main character is most like you: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Book whose main character you want to marry: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus Finch is my literary dream man.
First “chapter book” you remember reading as a child: Babysitter’s Club
Longest book you’ve read: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I think the edition I read was 850 pages… yikes!
Shortest book you’ve read: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Book you’re most embarassed to say you like: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. But I’m actually not that embarrassed about liking it.
Book that turned you on: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Book you’ve read the most number of times: Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Favorite picture book from childhood: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Book you plan to read next: Sex At Dawn!
Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished): A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Book that contains your favorite scene: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Favorite book you read in school: Age of Iron by J.M. Coetzee
Favorite nonfiction book: Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood
Favorite fiction book: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Last (good) book you read: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Book you’re currently reading: The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Favorite coffee table book: The PostSecret books
image source unknown
As I may have mentioned before, I have a bookshelf that is entirely dedicated to the books I own that I haven’t read yet. And because it’s impossible for me to go into a used bookstore without coming away with at least one book (if not several books), the amount of room on this bookshelf is constantly decreasing. In an attempt to make some room (and to just read some good books), I’ve decided to try to read all of the fattest books on my to-read shelf. It’s so much fatness. Just to give you an idea of how tall this stack is:
I’ve already finished East of Eden by John Steinbeck and am about 150 pages shy of finishing Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, but here are some of the other books I’ll have my nose buried in:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (recommended by my boyfriend’s grandma)
For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Ulysses by James Joyce
Song of Solomon/Tar Baby/Sula by Toni Morrison
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky
You Will Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Of Human Bondage by M. Somerset Maugham
The Flounder by Gunter Grass
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Oh, boy, do I love books.
Posted in Literary Giants, The Life de la Kendall
Tagged aleksandr solzhenitsyn, anna karenina, ayn rand, barbara kingsolver, betty friedan, books, dave eggers, demons, dostoevsky, east of eden, ernest hemingway, for whom the bell tolls, gunter grass, herman melville, james joyce, john steinbeck, kathryn stockett, leo tolstoy, m. somerset maugham, moby dick, of human bondage, song of solomon, the bonfire of the vanities, the brothers karamazov, the feminine mystique, the flounder, the fountainhead, the gulag archipelago, the help, the poisonwood bible, tom wolfe, toni morrison, ulysses, you will know our velocity