By Stephen M. Silverman
August 13, 2003 04:44 PM

Brad Pitt, currently filming the role of Achilles in the 1193 B.C. love story “Troy,” has his eye on another period piece: John Steinbeck’s 1950s novel set during World War I, “East of Eden,” New York’s Daily News reports.

The book, originally published in 1952, has shot back up the bestseller lists thanks to Oprah Winfrey, who selected it as the main title in her recently reactivated book club. The story is set in California’s Salinas Valley and focuses on the fight by two sons — Cal and Aron Trask — for the love of their dictatorial father, Adam Trask.

In the overheated 1955 movie version directed by Elia Kazan, James Dean, then 24, memorably (but mumblingly) played Cal, the forgotten actor Richard Davalos played Aron, and Raymond Massey was a chilling Adam. Julie Harris played Abra, who adores Cal and hates to witness his ongoing suffering.

The News says it’s unclear whether Pitt, 39, is considering himself for the role of Cal. (Pitt’s production company consists of himself, wife Jennifer Aniston and his manager Brad Grey, reports the paper.)

But Sam Pincus, the New York agent who handles the Steinbeck estate (John Steinbeck’s widow Elaine died only recently), confirmed to the News: “There is substantial movie interest. We are in the midst of negotiations.”

He added that the final say would come from Steinbeck’s survivors.