John Steinbeck

John
Steinbeck
1902
1968

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

Author Quotes

Well, Samuel rode lightly on top of a book and he balanced happily among ideas the way a man rides white rapids in a canoe. But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands.

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.

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.

Author Picture
First Name
John
Last Name
Steinbeck
Birth Date
1902
Death Date
1968
Bio

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