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

They walked side by side along the dark beach toward Monterey, where the lights hung, necklace above necklace against the hill. The sand dunes crouched along the back of the beach like tired hounds, resting: and the waves gently practiced at striking, and hissed a little. The night was cold and aloof, and its warm life was withdrawn, so that it was full of bitter warnings to man that he is alone in the world, and alone among his fellows; that he has no comfort owing him from anywhere.

This must be a good book. It simply must. I haven?t any choice. It must be far and away the best thing I have ever attempted ? slow but sure, piling detail on detail until a picture and an experience emerge. Until the whole throbbing thing emerges. And I can do it. I feel very strong to do it.

Tiny emerged on deck some hours later, shaken but smiling. He said that what he had been considering love had turned out to be simple flatulence. He said he wished all his romantic problems could be solved as easily.

Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em.

We could live offa the fatta the lan'.

We sat on a crate of oranges and thought what good men most biologists are, the tenors of the scientific world--temperamental, moody, lecherous, loud-laughing, and healthy. Once in a while one comes on the other kind--what used in the university to be called a 'dry-ball'--but such men are not really biologists. They are the embalmers of the field, the picklers who see only the preserved form of life without any of its principle. Out of their own crusted minds they create a world wrinkled with formaldehyde. The true biologist deals with life, with teeming boisterous life, and learns something from it, learns that the first rule of life is living. The dry-balls cannot possibly learn a thing every starfish knows in the core of his soul and in the vesicles between his rays. He must, so know the starfish and the student biologist who sits at the feet of living things, proliferate in all directions. Having certain tendencies, he must move along their lines to the limit of their potentialities. And we have known biologists who did proliferate in all directions: one or two have had a little trouble about it. Your true biologist will sing you a song as loud and off-key as will a blacksmith, for he knows that morals are too often diagnostic of prostatitis and stomach ulcers. Sometimes he may proliferate a little too much in all directions, but he is as easy to kill as any other organism, and meanwhile he is very good company, and at least he does not confuse a low hormone productivity with moral ethics.

There were frogs all right, thousands of them. Their voices beat the night, they boomed and barked and croaked and rattled. They sang to the stars, to the waning moon, to the waving grasses. They bellowed long songs and challenges.

They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever'body wants a little piece of lan'. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It?s just in their head.

They was this rich fella, an he makes like he?s poor, an they?s this rich girl, an she purtends like she?s poor too, an? they meet in a hamburg? stan? Why? I don?t know why-that?s how it was. Why?d they purtend like they?s poor? Well, they?re tired of bein? rich. Horseshit! You want to hear this, or not? Well, go on then. Sure, I wanta hear it, but if I was rich, if I was rich I?d get so many pork chops-I?d cord ?em up aroun? me like wood, an? I?d eat my way out. Go on.

this nickel, unlike most money, has actually done a job of work, has been physically responsible for a reaction

To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.

We did not cut the leg with a banana.

We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.

There would come a time in our poverty when we needed a party.

They could get it, Doc said. They could ruin their lives and get money. Mack has qualities of genius. They're all very clever if they want something. They just know the nature of things too well to be caught in wanting.

They were students of the expressions of young women as they went in to confession, and they saw them as they came out and read the nature of the sin.

This one will be shrewd, I think, and shrewdness is a limitation on the mind. Shrewdness tells you what you must not do because it would not be shrewd.

To a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lif? up his gellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not anthoer to help him up? Again, if two lie together then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him, and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.

We did not want to see what we could not explain, and thus a large part of the world was left to the children and madmen, fools and mystics who are more interested in the same phenomena than their causes.

We still go where we want, even if we got to crawl for the right.'

There you have the difference between greatness and mediocrity. It's not an uncommon disease. But it's nice for a mediocre man to know that greatness must be the loneliest state in the world.

They had long ago found out that one could not be an owner unless one were cold.

They?s a time of change, an? when that comes, dyin? is a piece of all dyin?, and bearin? is a piece of all bearin?, an? bearin? an? dyin? is two pieces of the same thing. An? then things ain?t so lonely anymore. An? then a hurt don?t hurt so bad.

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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