John Steinbeck


American Author of Novels, Non-Fiction and Short Stories, Awarded Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath and Nobel Prize for Literature

Author Quotes

You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.

You may thank God you didn?t want to be an actor, Tom, because you would have been a very bad one. You worked it out at Thanksgiving, I guess, when you were all together. And it?s working smooth as butter. I see Will?s hand in this. Don?t tell me if you don?t want to. I wasn?t in favor of it, said Tom. It doesn?t sound like you, his father said. You?d be for scattering the truth out in the sun for me to see. Don?t tell the others I know. He turned away and then came back and put his hand on Tom?s shoulder. Thank you for wanting to honor me with the truth, my son. It?s not clever but it?s more permanent.

You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff

Words pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator.

You can put in the way of human thinking about life, or everything should leave it open to flow?

You must name a thing before you connote it on your hand drawn map.

You're buying years of work, toil in the sun; you're buying a sorrow that can't talk. But watch it, mister. There's a premium goes with this pile of junk and the bay horses - so beautiful - a packet of bitterness to grow in your house and to flower, some day. We could have saved you, but you cut us down, and soon you will be cut down and there'll be none of us to save you.

Will and George were doing well in business, and Joe was writing letters home in rhymed verse and making as smart an attack on all the accepted verities as was healthful. Samuel wrote to Joe, sayings, I would be disappointed if you had not become an atheist, and I read pleasantly that you have, in your age and wisdom, accepted agnosticism the way you'd take a cookie on a full stomach. But I would ask you with all my understanding heart not to try to convert your mother. Your last letter only made her think you are not well. Your mother does not believe there are many ills uncurable by good strong soup. She puts your brave attack on the structure of our civilization down to a stomach ache. It worries her. Her faith is a mountain, and you, my son, haven't even got a shovel yet.

Work is the only good thing.

You can?t make a race horse of a pig. No, said Samuel, but you can make a very fast pig.

You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

You're getting well,' Samuel said. 'Some people think it's an insult to the glory of their sickness to get well. But the time poultice is no respecter of glories. Everyone gets well if he waits around.

Will liked to live so that no one could find fault with him, and to do that he had to live as nearly like other people as possible.

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

You can't slice up morals.

You never oughta drink water when it ain?t running,

You're going to pass something down no matter what you do or if you do nothing. Even if you let yourself go fallow, the weeds will grow and the brambles. Something will grow.

Will you have a touch of ng-ka-py? You mean the drink that tastes of good rotten apples? Yes. I can talk better with it. Maybe I can listen better, said Samuel.

Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.

You can't start with a democracy. You have to work up through stuff like tyranny and monarchy first. That way people are so relieved when they get to democracy that they hang on to it.

You see, I have been at revaluing myself in the last few days. I may have some value to historians because I have destroyed a few things. The builder of your Cathedral is forgotten even now, but I, who burned it, may be remembered for a hundred years or so. And that may mean something or other about mankind.

You're jest one person, an' they's a lot of other folks. You git to your proper place. I knowed people built theirself up with sin till they figgered they was big mean shucks in the sight a the Lord. You ain't big enough or mean enough to worry God much.

Will you stay to dinner? Adam asked. I will not be responsible for the murder of more chickens, said Samuel. Lee's got a pot roast. Well, in that case--

Yeah, said George. I?ll come. But listen, Curley. The poor bastard?s nuts. Don?t shoot ?im. He di?n?t know what he was doin?.

You come back a changed man. Samuel, you don?t change him. He changes you. I can see the look of him in your face. Have you thought of the two little boys, Liza? he asked. I?ve thought of your

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American Author of Novels, Non-Fiction and Short Stories, Awarded Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath and Nobel Prize for Literature