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

There's a responsibility in being a person. It's more than just taking up space where air would be.

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 book has become a misery to me because of my inadequacy.

Thou knowest not what bitches women are, Danny said wisely. I do know, said Pilon. Thou knowest not. I do know. Liar.

To most of the world success is never bad. I remember how, when Hitler moved unchecked and triumphant, many honorable men sought and found virtues in him. And Mussolini made the trains run on time, and Vichy collaborated for the good of France, and whatever else Stalin was, he was strong. Strength and success?they are above morality, above criticism. It seems, then, that it is not what you do, but how you do it and what you call it. Is there a check in men, deep in them, that stops or punishes? There doesn?t seem to be. The only punishment is for failure. In effect no crime is committed unless a criminal is caught.

Unless a writer's capable of solitude, he should leave books alone and go into the theater.

We have in past been forced into reluctant change by weather, calamity, and plague. Now the pressure comes from our biologic success as a species. We have overcome all enemies but ourselves.

We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. The sad ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back, for thy can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain.

There is more beauty in truth, even if it is a dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar.

There's an awful lot of inactive kindness which is nothing but laziness, not wanting any trouble, confusion, or effort.

They looked at one another, amazed. this thing they had never really believed in was coming true.

This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.

Thou mayest rule over sin,? Lee. That?s it. I do not believe all men are destroyed. I can name you a dozen who were not, and they are the ones the world lives by. It is true of the spirit as it is true of battles?only the winners are remembered. Surely most men are destroyed, but there are others who like pillars of fire guide frightened men through the darkness. ?Thou mayest, Thou mayest!? What glory! It is true that we are weak and sick and quarrelsome, but if that is all we ever were, we would, millenniums ago, have disappeared from the face of the earth. A few remnants of fossilized jawbone, some broken teeth in strata of limestone, would be the only mark man would have left of his existence in the world. But the choice, Lee, the choice of winning! I had never understood it or accepted it before. Do you see now why I told Adam tonight? I exercised the choice. Maybe I was wrong, but by telling him I also forced him to live or get off the pot. What is that word, Lee?

To the heavens on the wings of a pig.

Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes it'll on'y be one.

We have never understood why men mount the heads of animals and hang them up to look down on their conquerors. Possibly it feels good to these men to be superior to animals, but it does seem that if they were sure of it they would not have to prove it. Often a man who is afraid must constantly demonstrate his courage and, in the case of the hunter, must keep a tangible record of his courage. For ourselves, we have had mounted in a small hardwood plaque one perfect borrego [bighorn sheep] dropping. And where another man can say, There was an animal, but because I am greater than he, he is dead and I am alive, and there is his head to prove it, we can say, There was an animal, and for all we know there still is and here is proof of it. He was very healthy when we last heard of him.

We'll start over. But you can't start. Only a baby can start

There is no knowing how or why dread comes on a parent. Of course, many times apprehension arises when there is no reason for it at all. And it comes most often to the parents of only children, parents who have indulged in black dreams of loss.

There's more beauty in the truth even if it is dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar.

They refused seconds and I insisted. And the division of thirds was put on the basis that there wasn't enough to save. And with the few divided drops of that third there came into Rocinante a triumphant human magic that can bless a house, or a truck for that matter-- nine people gathered in complete silence and the nine parts making a whole as surely as my arms and legs are a part of me, separate and inseparable.

This is beyond understanding. said the king. You are the wisest man alive. You know what is preparing. Why do you not make a plan to save yourself? And Merlin said quietly, Because I am wise. In the combat between wisdom and feeling, wisdom never wins.

Thou wilt die soon and thou are not yet simple nor free from perturbations, nor without suspicion of being hurt by external things, nor kindly disposed towards all; nor dost thou yet place wisdom only in acting justly.

To the race in general, alcohol as been an anodyne, a warmer of the soul, a strengthener of muscle and spirit. It has given courage to cowards and has made very ugly people attractive. There is a story told of a Swedish tramp, sitting in a ditch on Midsummer Night. He was ragged and dirty and drunk, and he said to himself softly and in wonder, I am rich and happy and perhaps a little beautiful.

Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.

We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly re-spawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.

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