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

Who in his mind has not probe the dark water?

What is good for one may be bad for another, and only at the end do you know what was good and what was bad.

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ships's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself.

When you know a friend is there you do not go to see him. Then he's gone and you blast your conscience to shreds that you did not see him.

Why do men like me want sons? he wondered. It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men, who are their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance at life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone.

What is truth?

When Kino had finished, Juana came back to the fire and ate her breakfast. They had spoken once, but there is not need for speech if it is only a habit anyway. Kino sighed with satisfaction - and that was conversation.

When you look back carefully, you can always find the start time of a new era, then everything goes by itself, is chained.

Why do we so dread to think of our species as a species? Can it be that we are afraid of what we may find? That human self-love would suffer too much and that the image of God might prove to be a mask? This could be only partly true, for if we could cease to wear the image of a kindly, bearded, interstellar dictator, we might find ourselves true images of his kingdom, our eves the nebulae, and universes in our cells.

What pillow can one have like a good conscience?

When Mary is confused or perplexed, she spurts anger the way an octopus spurts ink, and hides in the dark cloud of it.

When you put him aside, that I understand only. I know what is bad, but there's nothing I can do. Someone else can help you. I can only say that now, but you cannot believe it. Ways to get open. Also in this period we cannot tolerate each other, be with you my love.

Why don't you beat him?

Well, sir, he said, we?ve got a murder now and then, or we can read about them. Then we?ve got the World Series. You can raise a wind any time over the Pirates or the Yankees, but I guess the best of all is we?ve got the Russians. Feelings pretty strong there? Oh, sure! Hardly a day goes by somebody doesn?t take a belt at the Russians. ...I asked, Anybody know any Russians around here? And now he went all out and laughed. Course not. That?s why they?re valuable. Nobody can find fault with you if you take out after the Russians.

What some people find in religion a writer may find in his craft...a kind of breaking through to glory.

When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God.

When you see good or bad in your children, you're seeing what you instilled in them after they cleared the womb.

Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there?

Well, suppose there?s a slight doubt that the boy should be in the army and we send him and he gets killed.

What the hell kind of bed you giving us, anyways? We don't want no pants rabbits.

When shoes and clothes and food, when hope is gone we'll all have the rifle.

When you?re a child you?re the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people? They?re only ghosts furnished for you to talk to. But when you grow up you take your place and you?re your own size and shape. Things go out of you to others and come in from other people. It?s worse, but it?s much better too.

Why, a trick horse is kind of like an actor?no dignity, no character of his own.

Well, what are you doing this kind of work for--against your own people? Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner--and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day and it comes every day. But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can't eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right? Can't think of that. Got to think of my own kids.

What we knew is dead, and maybe the greatest part of what we were is dead. What's out there is new and perhaps good, but it's nothing we know.

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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