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

When I was very young and I felt in me the irrepressible impulse to be anywhere else, I was assured by people of mature age that maturity would cure this burning desire. When the years indicated me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age, assured me that a few years more calm down my fever, and now, I have fifty-eight perhaps senility the can. Nothing worked. Four hoarse blows the whistle of a ship still bristle hair on my neck and put my feet to tap dance. The sound of a jet plane, an engine to warm up to the beat of shod hooves on pavement, cause the old tingle, dry mouth and the vacant look, the heat of the palms and the violent shaking of the stomach, to jumps under the rib cage. In other words, do not I improve, or, going further, who was bummer is always a bummer. I fear that the disease is incurable.

When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to catch whole for they will break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book-to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

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?

There was a nodding of heads in the kitchen, and only Tom sat rocklike and brooding. Tom, wouldn?t you be willing to take over the ranch? George asked. Oh, that?s nothing, said Tom. It?s no trouble to run the ranch because the ranch doesn?t run?never has. Then why don?t you agree? I?d find a reluctance to insult my father, Tom said. He?d know. But where?s the harm in suggesting it? Tom rubbed his ears until he forced the blood out of them and for a moment they were white. I don?t forbid you, he said. But I can?t do it. George said, We could write it in a letter?a kind of invitation, full of jokes. And when he got tired of one of us, why, he could go to another. There?s years of visiting among the lot of us. And that was how they left it.

These words dropped into my childish mind as if you should accidentally drop a ring into a deep well. I did not think of them much at the time, but there came a day in my life when the ring was fished up out of the well, good as new.

They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.

This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this spawn of the future, turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me.

Time is the only critic without ambition.

Tom?s cowardice was as huge as his courage, as it must be in great men. His violence balanced his tenderness, and himself was a pitted battlefield of his own forces. He was confused now, but Dessie could hold his bit and point him, the way a handler points a thoroughbred at the barrier to show his breeding and his form.

We can shoot rockets into space but we can't cure anger or discontent.

We only have one story. All novels, all poetry are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil.

There was an ache in his heart like the farewell to a dear woman; there was a vague sorrow in him like the despair of autumn. He walked past the restaurants he used to smell with interest, and no appetite was aroused in him. He walked by Madam Zuca's great establishment, and exchanged no obscene jests with the girls in the windows. Back to the wharf he went. He leaned over the rail and looked into the deep, deep water. Do you know, Danny, how the wine of your life is pouring into the fruit jars of the gods? Do you see the procession of your days in the oily water among the piles? He remained motionless, staring down.

They called him a comical genius and carried his stories carefully home, and they wondered at how the stories spilled out on the way, for they never sounded the same repeated in their own kitchens.

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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