Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

409 Inspiring Quotes by John Steinbeck

Welcome to our collection of quotes by John Steinbeck.

Wikipedia Summary for John Steinbeck

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." He has been called "a giant of American letters", and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature.

During his writing career, he authored 33 books, with one book coauthored alongside Edward Ricketts, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and two collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas The Red Pony (1933) and Of Mice and Men (1937). The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is considered Steinbeck's masterpiece and part of the American literary canon. In the first 75 years after it was published, it sold 14 million copies.

Most of Steinbeck's work is set in central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.

backdrop solid

If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule--a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.

--John Steinbeck

shillouette photo of person standing at the peak

I had been practicing for the Depression a long time. I wasn't involved with loss. I didn't have money to lose, but in common with millions I did dislike hunger and cold.

--John Steinbeck

round black and white analog alarm clock

Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.

--John Steinbeck

brown rock formation on body of water during daytime

There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.

--John Steinbeck


two grey elephants on grass plains during sunset

What hidden, hoarded longings there are in all of us.

--John Steinbeck

grey sand wave

He saw something that makes a man doubtful of the constancy of the realities outside himself. It was the shocking discovery that makes a man wonder if I've missed this, what else have I failed to see?

--John Steinbeck


aerial view of river in between green trees during daytime

Possibly the deep feeling is that if people learn to eat one another the food supply would be so generous and so available that no one would be either safe or hungry.

--John Steinbeck

blue sky with stars during night time

It gives a fella relief to tell, but it jus' spreads out his sin.

--John Steinbeck

shallow focus photography of adult fawn pug

I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette photography of man sitting on rock

Aron's training in worldliness was gained from a young man of no experience, which gave him the ability for generalization only the inexperienced can have.

--John Steinbeck

yellow flowers

It's almost impossible to read a fine thing without wanting to do a fine thing.

--John Steinbeck

brown, black, and white butterfly on purple petaled flower photo

I find out of long experience that I admire all nations and hate all governments.

--John Steinbeck

white wall paint with black line

During the years he was never sick, except of course for the chronic indigestion which was universal, and still is, with men who live alone, cook for themselves, and eat in solitude.

--John Steinbeck

three books on surface

I wish to God I knew as much about writing as I did when I was 19. I was absolutely certain about most things then. Also, I suspect, more accurate.

--John Steinbeck

grass field under cloudy sky

Perhaps the less we have, the more we are required to brag.

--John Steinbeck

green sports court illustration

Good God, what a mess of draggle-tail impulses a man is -- and a woman too, I guess.

--John Steinbeck

blue and white abstract painting

How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him -- he has known a fear beyond every other.

--John Steinbeck

fawn pug lying on floor

They successfully combined piracy and puritanism, which aren't so unlike when you come right down to it. Both had a strong dislike for opposition and both had a roving eye for other people's property.

--John Steinbeck

smiling woman

You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

--John Steinbeck

flower garden

I eat stories like grapes.

--John Steinbeck

blue sky

A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.

--John Steinbeck


closeup photography of black and brown bird

We have to make a mark, even if it's only a scribble.

--John Steinbeck

selective photography of green leaf plant

Oh, the strawberries don't taste as they used to and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!

--John Steinbeck



brown rock formation on body of water during daytime

For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.

--John Steinbeck


brown desert under sunny sky

The doctrine of our time is that man can't get along without a whole hell of a lot of stuff. You may not be preaching it, but you're living treason.

--John Steinbeck



brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

The people in flight from the terror behind-strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever.

--John Steinbeck


landscape photography of mountains with cloudy skies during golden hour

I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless.

--John Steinbeck

swimming pool with stainless steel ladder

And finally, in our time a beard is the one thing that a woman cannot do better than a man, or if she can her success is assured only in a circus.

--John Steinbeck

brown and white humming bird

The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

--John Steinbeck

orange flowers

Doc still loved true things but he knew that it was not a general love and it could be a very dangerous mistress.

--John Steinbeck


icy mountain scenery

In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layer of frailty men want to be good and want be loved. Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror.





landscape photography of waves and clouds

Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

--John Steinbeck

person holding pocket watch

I have wondered why is it that some people are less affected and torn by the verities of life and death that others.

--John Steinbeck


brown and white abstract painting

And I here make a rule-a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting-only the deeply personal and familiar.

--John Steinbeck



green trees under white sky during daytime

In a world that was not easy for Alice to bear or understand, flies were the final and malicious burden laid upon her.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of person on top of mountain pointing flashlight on sky filled with stars at night time

Give a critic an inch, he'll write a play.

--John Steinbeck


sunset

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

--John Steinbeck

man and woman holding hand while walking on bridge

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do...Try to be better than yourself.

--John Steinbeck

sunset

I do love her, and that's odd because she is everything I detest in anyone else.

--John Steinbeck

white and blue sky during daytime

Auf dem Kopf hatte er einen Strohhut mit zwei Löchern in der Krempe, die vermuten ließen, dass der Hut ehemals die Kopfbedeckung eines Pferes gewesen war.

--John Steinbeck

top view of green succulent plants

All great and precious things are lonely.

--John Steinbeck


white printer paper on brown wooden table

In my heart there may be doubt that I deserve the Nobel award over other men of letters whom I hold in respect and reverence, but there is no question of my pleasure and pride in having it for myself.

--John Steinbeck

blue and white abstract painting

As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of mountain under starry night

To the heavens on the wings of a pig.

--John Steinbeck

selective focus photography of black and white bird on stem

A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child.

--John Steinbeck

library shelf near black wooden ladder

There's more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.

--John Steinbeck

minimalist photography of open door

Are cats strange animals or do they so resemble us that we find them curious as we do monkeys?

--John Steinbeck


foggy mountains

Riches seem to come to the poor in spirit, the poor in interest and joy. To put it straight -- the very rich are a poor bunch of bastards.

--John Steinbeck


person in black jacket standing on beach during daytime

Three hours of writing require twenty hours of preparation. Luckily I have learned to dream about the work, which saves me some working time.

--John Steinbeck

car passing by in between trees

We don't take a trip. A trip takes us.

--John Steinbeck



orange flowers

I like to pet nice things with my fingers.

--John Steinbeck

minimalist photography of open door

Father and son are natural enemies and each is happier and more secure in keeping it that way.

--John Steinbeck

woman standing on cliff

We do know that we are cheated from birth to the overcharge on our coffins.

--John Steinbeck

photo of underwater

Maybe not having time to think is not having the wish to think.

--John Steinbeck

pink tulips in close up photography

Sometimes a sad man can talk the sadness right out through his mouth. Sometimes a killin' man can talk the murder right out of his mouth an' not to no murder. You done right. Don't you kill nobody if you can help it.

--John Steinbeck

black bird flying under white clouds during daytime

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.

--John Steinbeck

orange rose in bloom close up photo

I wanta buy stuff. Stuff I don't need... Stuff settin' out there, you jus' feel like buyin' it whether you need it or not.
-Uncle John.

--John Steinbeck

sliced lemon on pink surface

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.


light blue

Luck or tragedy, some people get runs. Then of course there are those who divide it even, good and bad, but we never hear of them. Such a life doesn't demand attention. Only the people who get the good or bad runs.

--John Steinbeck

blue ocean

The names of places carry a charge of the people who named them.

--John Steinbeck

turned on desk lamp beside pile of books

Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em.

--John Steinbeck

blue wallpaper

Act out being alive, like a play. And after a while, a long while, it will be true.

--John Steinbeck


brown tree on surrounded by brown grass during golden hour

It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.

--John Steinbeck

person behind fog glass

It is astounding to find that the belly of every black and evil thing is white as snow. And it is saddening to discover how the concealed parts of angels are leprous.

--John Steinbeck

yellow sunflower field under blue sky during daytime

We're sorry. It's not us. It's the monster. The bank isn't a man. The bank isn't like a man.
Yes, but the bank is only made of men.

--John Steinbeck

solid background

The misery stayed, not thought about but aching away, and sometimes I would have to ask myself, Why do I ache? Men can get used to anything, but it takes time.

--John Steinbeck

yellow, orange, red, green, and blue abstract painting

The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it.

--John Steinbeck

man in Burton shirt facing ocean

Men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the fight to secure certain food, where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

Men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the fight to secure certain food, where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them.... In the world ruled by tigers with ulcers, rutted by strictured bulls, scavenged by blind jackals.... What can it profit a man to gain the whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown prostate, and bifocals?



pink rose in close up photography

Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother.

--John Steinbeck

three pink tulip flowers

The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.

--John Steinbeck

white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.

--John Steinbeck

flat lay photography of several hanging ornaments

There's nothing in the world like that first taste of beer.

--John Steinbeck


man on running field

I've lived in a good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate.

--John Steinbeck


white and black satellite dish on brown field during night time

Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.

--John Steinbeck


white flowers in brown stem

I would like to sit still for a while but I'm restless you know and sitting still is only an ideal like celibacy and complete cleanliness.

--John Steinbeck



green and red flowers

There's more beauty in the truth even if it is dreadful beauty.

--John Steinbeck

blue flowers in tilt shift lens

Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.

--John Steinbeck

white

I have noticed that there is no dissatisfaction like that of the rich. Feed a man, clothe him, put him in a good house, and he will die of despair.

--John Steinbeck




person in black and white mask

I never fixed no car in my life 'thout cuttin' myself. Now it's done I don't have to worry no more.

--John Steinbeck

ice berg

When two men live together they usually maintain a kind of shabby neatness out of incipient rage at each other. Two men alone are constantly on the verge of fighting, and they know it.

--John Steinbeck


aerial view of river in between green trees during daytime

I've always been amused by the contention that brain work is harder than manual labor. I've never known a man to leave a desk for a muck-stick if he could avoid it.

--John Steinbeck



silhouette of trees during sunset

When a man comes to die,
no matter what his talents and influences and genius,
if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him
and his dying a cold horror.

--John Steinbeck


street lamp

Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette photo of person holding flashlight under milk way

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on.



silver round analog wall clock

Lennie said quietly, "It ain't no lie. We're gonna do it. Gonna get a little place an' live on the fatta the lan'."

--John Steinbeck

yellow painted wall

It is easy, out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, 'I couldn't help it; the way was set.' But think of the glory of the choice!

--John Steinbeck

yellow and black striped background

The bank -- the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.

--John Steinbeck


blue and white abstract painting

It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.

--John Steinbeck


black and white window illustration

Prayer never brought in no side-meat. Takes a shoat to bring in pork.

--John Steinbeck

pink and white tulips on white surface

All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of mountain during sunset

My wants are simple. I have no desire to latch onto a monster symbol of fate and power and prove my manhood in titanic piscine war. But sometimes I do like a couple of cooperative fish of frying size.

--John Steinbeck

landscape photography of horizon

The break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath.

--John Steinbeck

brown sands

And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.

--John Steinbeck

empty brown concrete stairs beside green grass under starry sky long-exposure photography

It's hard to split a man down the middle and always to reach for the same half.

--John Steinbeck


sunset

You ain't worth a greased lack pin to ram you into hell.

--John Steinbeck

white wooden table near brown chair

To find where you are going, you must know where you are.

--John Steinbeck

shallow focus photography of purple flower

How can the poem and the stink and the grating noise -- the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream -- be set down alive?

--John Steinbeck


shallow focus photography of orange flower

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette photo of mountain during night time

The warfare between the unaroused male and female is constant and ferocious. Each blames the other for his loss of soul.

--John Steinbeck


blue and white abstract painting

There is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter.

--John Steinbeck

person in black hoodie using laptop computer

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.

--John Steinbeck

stars across the sky view at the desert

It was a day as different from other days as dogs are from cats and both of them from chrysanthemums or tidal waves or scarlet fever.

--John Steinbeck

group of camels walking on desert lake at daytime

And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.

--John Steinbeck



orange rose in bloom close up photo

Give me a used Bible and I will, I think, be able to tell you about a man by the places that are edged with the dirt of seeking fingers.

--John Steinbeck

paper

I take a pleasure in inquiring into things. I've never been content to pass a stone without looking under it. And it is a black disappointment to me that I can never see the far side of the moon.

--John Steinbeck

person standing on top of mountain

Some people think it's an insult to the glory of their sickness to get well.

--John Steinbeck

chocolate

Just set one day's work in front of the last day's work. That's the way it comes out. And that's the only way it does.

--John Steinbeck

purple and white clouds during night time

I guess this personal hide-and-seek is not unusual. And some people are 'it' all their lives -- hopelessly 'it."

--John Steinbeck

yellow painted wall

Thus do the gods speak with tiny causes.

--John Steinbeck



blue sky with stars during night time

I've always taken my hangovers as consequence, not as a punishment.

--John Steinbeck


backdrop solid

They're a dark people with a gift for suffering way past their deserving. It's said that without whiskey to soak and soften the world, they'd kill themselves.

--John Steinbeck

solid background

There's nothing sadder to me than associations held together by nothing but the glue of postage stamps. If you can't see or hear or touch a man, it's best to let him go.

--John Steinbeck

aerial's photo of metropolitan during night time\

Montana seems to me to be what a small boy would think Texas is like from hearing Texans.

--John Steinbeck

None

The bank, the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette photography of man illustration

She had a dour Presbyterian mind and a code of morals that pinned down and beat the brains out of nearly everything that was pleasant to do.

--John Steinbeck


black, purple, and orange basketball court beside concrete buildings at daytime

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

--John Steinbeck

black textile in close up photography

Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life or death of the whole world, of all living things.

--John Steinbeck


red textile in close up photography

Florida is a golden word...The very name Florida carried the message of warmth and ease and comfort. It was irresistible.

--John Steinbeck


two women making peace sign near the Golden Gate bridge

In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.

--John Steinbeck




blue painted wall with white paint

Money's easy to make if it's money you want. But with few exceptions people don't want money. They want luxury and they want love and they want admiration.

--John Steinbeck

painting of man walking down a road holding umbrella

We could live offa the fatta the lan'.

--John Steinbeck

purple and black skies

Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.

--John Steinbeck

bird on pier

A good writer always works at the impossible.There is another kind who pulls in his horizons, drops his mind as one lowers rifle sights.

--John Steinbeck

clear glass hour glass with black liquid

Man has become our greatest hazard, and our only hope.

--John Steinbeck

brown wooden table clock at 10 10

This I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.

--John Steinbeck


person holding white ceramic cup with liquid

But Kino had lost his old world and he must clamber on to a new one. For his dream of the future was real and never to be destroyed, and he said "I will go," and that made a real thing too.

--John Steinbeck




green leafed seedlings on black plastic pots

"What have I to fear but starvation?" Kino asked.

--John Steinbeck

person with flashlight near lighted green tree on mountain under starry night

Within that frame he went a long way and burned a deep scar.

--John Steinbeck

pink umbrella

Only God sees the sparrow fall, but even God doesn't do anything about it.

--John Steinbeck




Bryce Canyon National Park Sunrise Point at Utah

They had not grown up in the paradoxes of industry. Their senses were still sharp to the ridiculousness of the industrial life.

--John Steinbeck

man standing on sand while spreading arms beside calm body of water

If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

--John Steinbeck

close-up photography of heart shaped fairy lite on brown sand

The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness.

--John Steinbeck


solid background

The Pacific is my home ocean; I knew it first, grew up on its shore, collected marine animals along the coast. I know its moods, its color, its nature.

--John Steinbeck

red textile in close up photography

And this you can know- fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.

--John Steinbeck


white tulips with green leaves

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness? You only truly, deeply appreciate and are grateful for something when you compare and contrast it to something worse.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of person wearing cowboy hat during sunset

Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.

--John Steinbeck

close-up photograph of black dreadnought acoustic guitar

Tom's cowardice was as huge as his courage, as it must be in great men.

--John Steinbeck


yellow and purple flower with white background

His ear heard more than what was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.

--John Steinbeck

mountains covered with fog

I dislike helplessness in other people and in myself, and this is by far my greatest fear of illness.

--John Steinbeck


brown grass field under blue sky and white clouds during daytime

I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

--John Steinbeck

white bicycle parked beside wall

Curious how a place unvisited can take such hold on the mind so that the very name sets up a ringing.

--John Steinbeck



man in blue tank top holding green and black skateboard

Being at ease with himself put him at ease with the world.

--John Steinbeck

a woman sits on the end of a dock during daytime staring across a lake

One of the laws of paleontology is that an animal which must protect itself with thick armour is degenerate. It is usually a sign that the species is on the road to extinction.

--John Steinbeck

None

Sexuality with all its attendant yearnings and pains, jealousies and taboos, is the most disturbing impulse humans have.

--John Steinbeck



person on road at sunset

I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.

--John Steinbeck

shallow focus photography of woman standing outdoors

Can you honestly love a dishonest thing?

--John Steinbeck

low angle view of blue clouds

I hate cameras. They are so much more sure than I am about everything.

--John Steinbeck

white oriental lily flower

Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now." "Sure right now. I gotta. We gotta.

--John Steinbeck

a person drowns underwater

She sighed as she always does, a deep, gathered breath and a low release of luxury. Some people resent awakening, but not Mary. She comes to a day with the expectancy that it will be good.

--John Steinbeck

analog clock at 5:55

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.

--John Steinbeck

red and yellow abstract painting

And their greed was for gold or God. They collected souls as they collected jewels.

--John Steinbeck


silhouette of grass under moonlight

If you want to keep a friend, never test him.

--John Steinbeck

gray building

But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There's no godliness there.

--John Steinbeck



short-beak red bird on tree

Don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens -- The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

--John Steinbeck


yellow sunflower in glass vase

Liza with her acceptance could take care of tragedy; she had no real hope this side of Heaven.

--John Steinbeck

bonfire in forest

If a man ordered a beer milkshake he'd better do it in a town where he wasn't known.

--John Steinbeck



brown wooden table clock at 10 10

In human affairs of danger and delicacy successful conclusion is sharply limited by hurry.

--John Steinbeck

green palm plant during daytime

Bleedin' like a son-of-a-bitch," he said. "Well, I can stop that." He urinated on the ground, picked up a handful of the resulting mud, and plastered it over the wound.

--John Steinbeck

brown, black, and white butterfly on purple petaled flower photo

There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.

--John Steinbeck

sunset

If we could learn to like ourselves, even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away.

--John Steinbeck


three pink tulip flowers

People who are most afraid of their dreams convince themselves they don't dream at all.

--John Steinbeck


Longer Version:

New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous.
But there is one thing about it -- once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.


pink petaled flower on white surface

Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella.

--John Steinbeck


yellow sunflower field under blue sky during daytime

I have owed you this letter for a very long time-but my fingers have avoided the pencil as though it were an old and poisoned tool.

--John Steinbeck

man in black jacket and black pants standing on brown rock formation during daytime

But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed -- because 'Thou mayest.

--John Steinbeck

person on road at sunset

But Doc had one mental habit he could not get over. When anyone asked a question, Doc thought he wanted to know the answer.

--John Steinbeck



pot on window with flowers

A man on a horse is spiritually, as well as physically, bigger than a man on foot.

--John Steinbeck

person sleeping on gray gang chair

The camera need not be a cold mechanical device. Like the pen, it is as good as the man who uses it. It can be the extension of mind and heart.

--John Steinbeck


backdrop solid

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.

--John Steinbeck

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

"Oh, I guess I'm physically able to father a child. That's not what I'm thinking. I'm too closely married to a quiet reading lamp."

--John Steinbeck

yellow petaled flower screenshot

Then it is better, sir, to love whom one cannot have?" "Probably better," Lancelot said. "Certainly safer.

--John Steinbeck

black, purple, and orange basketball court beside concrete buildings at daytime

The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.

--John Steinbeck


person holding sunflower

For it is my opinion that we enclose and celebrate the freaks of our nation and our civilization. Yellowstone National Park is no more representative of America than is Disneyland.

--John Steinbeck

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

No -- the stars are close and dear and I have joined the brotherhood of the worlds. And everything's holy -- everything, even me.

--John Steinbeck

chocolate

The comfortable people in tight houses felt pity at first, and then distaste, and finally hatred for the migrant people.

--John Steinbeck

green plants beside brown wooden door

The impulse of the American woman to geld her husband and castrate her sons is very strong.

--John Steinbeck

pink rose bud closeup photo

I guess there are never enough books.

--John Steinbeck

Arizona landscape

I think of my life as a kind of music, not always good music but still having form and melody.

--John Steinbeck




brown houses in front of hill under starry night

We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome.

--John Steinbeck

calm body of water near alp mountains during nighttime

And the women who had thought they wanted dresses never realized that what they had wanted was happiness.

--John Steinbeck


silhouette of tree during sunset

It would be good to live in a perpetual state of leave-taking, never to go nor to stay, but to remain suspended in that golden emotion of love and longing; to be loved without satiety.

--John Steinbeck

grayscale photo of desert

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.

--John Steinbeck

forest trees photograph

In March the soft rains continued, and each storm waited courteously until its predecessor sunk beneath the ground.

--John Steinbeck

fan of 1 US dollar banknotes and coins on beige surface

A writer of stories is a liar.

--John Steinbeck

solid background

Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass. Change may be announced by a small ache, so that you think you're catching cold. Or you may feel a faint disgust for something you loved yesterday. It may even take the form of a hunger that peanuts won't satisfy. Isn't overeating said to be one of the strongest symptoms of discontent. And isn't discontent the lever of change?


low angle photography of green and brown tree

Open blooms like ballet-skirted ladies.

--John Steinbeck

blue and white abstract painting

It seems to me Montana is a great splash of grandeur. The scale is huge but not overpowering. The land is rich with grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda.

--John Steinbeck

plain background

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

--John Steinbeck


calm body of water near alp mountains during nighttime

One who was born by the ocean or has associated with it cannot ever be quite content away from it for very long.

--John Steinbeck

clear drinking glass with beer

So in our pride we ordered for breakfast an omelet, toast and coffee and what has just arrived is a tomato salad with onions, a dish of pickles, a big slice of watermelon and two bottles of cream soda.

--John Steinbeck



brown and grey trees and rock formation painting

No single organism could be understood without observing and comprehending the entire colony.

--John Steinbeck

fine trees waving

It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.

--John Steinbeck

three person looking stars and milky way

With knowledge there is no hope... without hope I would sit motionless, rusting like unused armor.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of a woman with pink and purple sky

We will rich soon, and you who handle poverty badly will handle riches equally badly... In poverty she is envious. In riches she may be a snob. Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.

--John Steinbeck

houses and trees during nighttime

You can't go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory.

--John Steinbeck

purple flowers under sunny sky

A man can do a lot of damage in the church. When someone comes here, he's got his guard up. But in church a man's wide open.

--John Steinbeck


black fawn pug playing with plush toy

It's a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.

--John Steinbeck

white shore under sunny sky

The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index.

--John Steinbeck



yellow sunflower in close up photography

In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.

--John Steinbeck


white and gray floral bed sheet

The lies we tell about our duty and our purposes, the meaningless words of science and philosophy, are walls that topple before a bewildered little ‘why.'

--John Steinbeck

stars across the sky view at the desert

A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders.


white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

If I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble.

--John Steinbeck



woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring

And then we take a soldier and put murder in his hands and we say to him, "Use it well, use it wisely."

--John Steinbeck


worm's eye view of trees during night time

I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.

--John Steinbeck

shallow focus photography of bee on flower

Ideas are not dangerous unless they find seeding place in some earth more profound than the mind.

--John Steinbeck

Blue to purple gradient

Please try not to need me. That's the worst bait of all to a lonely man.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our live trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, "Yes, that's the way it is, or at least that's the way I feel it. You're not as alone as you thought." To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn't really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.


white rose enclosed photograph

You're buying years of work, toil in the sun; you're buying a sorrow that can't talk.

--John Steinbeck


woman in black shirt standing on yellow flower field during daytime

A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.

--John Steinbeck

woman riding on skateboard during daytime

Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.

--John Steinbeck

brown wallpaper

Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones.

--John Steinbeck

green leaf

The literature of science is filled with answers found when the question propounded had an entirely different direction and end.

--John Steinbeck

rock formation surrounding by body of water

He had an idea that even when beaten he could steal a little victory by laughing at defeat.

--John Steinbeck


round Timex analog clock at 2:33

Syntax, my lad. It has been restored to the highest place in the republic.

--John Steinbeck

yellow sunflower under blue sky during daytime

For how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can remember only that you had them.

--John Steinbeck

brown wallpaper

Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope. So that today, St. John the apostle may well be paraphrased: In the end is the Word, and the Word is Man -- and the Word is with Men.

--John Steinbeck

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.

--John Steinbeck


green palm tree during daytime

Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there's time, the Bastard Time.

--John Steinbeck

closed door

The calm and the sorrow were so great that they bore down on his chest, and the loneliness was complete, a circle impenetrable.

--John Steinbeck



brown and gray stick

All of them had a restlessness in common.

--John Steinbeck






bird in the sky

The proofs that God does not exist are very strong, but in lots of people they are not as strong as the feeling that He does.

--John Steinbeck

blue and white abstract painting

It is the nature of a person as he she grows older to protest against change, particularly changes for the better.

--John Steinbeck



yellow flower field near bare trees during daytime

We gather our arms full of guilt as though it were precious stuff. It must be that we want it that way.

--John Steinbeck

backdrop solid

The curious hocus-pocus of criticism I can't take seriously. It consists in squirreling up some odd phrases and then waiting for a book to come running by.

--John Steinbeck





yellow painted wall

Yes, you should talk," he said. "Sometimes a sad man can talk the sadness right out through his mouth. Sometimes a killin' man can talk the murder right out of his mouth.

--John Steinbeck

forest near mountain alps

A farmer cannot think too much evil of a good farmer.

--John Steinbeck

selective focus photography of woman taking selfie

And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man.

--John Steinbeck



sun

I am writing this from what we Americans call Yurrp. In Yurrp writers are taken as seriously as Lana Turner's legs are in America -- a ridiculous situation.

--John Steinbeck

rainbow

It is one of the triumphs of the human that he can know a thing and still not believe it.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of stones during golden hour

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.

--John Steinbeck

landscape photo of mountains under starry sky at nighttime

It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.

--John Steinbeck

grayscale photography of elephant

You don't even know where I'm going. I don't care. I'd like to go anywhere.

--John Steinbeck


backdrop

A man with a beard was always a little suspect anyway. You couldn't say you wore a beard because you liked a beard. People didn't like you for telling the truth. You had to say you had a scar so you couldn't shave.

--John Steinbeck

mountains under starry sky during nighttime

Humanity has been passing through a gray and desolate time of confusion.

--John Steinbeck

yellow green leaf

The trash and litter of nature disappears into the ground with the passing of each year, but man's litter has more permanence.

--John Steinbeck

dew drops on glass panel

Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain and if you don't believe that, watch an illiterate adult try to do it.

--John Steinbeck




None

The words are meaningless except in terms of feeling. Does anyone act as the result of thought or does feeling stimulate action and sometimes thought implement it.

--John Steinbeck

people raises hands

In nature two things do not occur-the wheel and good taste.

--John Steinbeck

woman leaning against a wall in dim hallway

Maybe -- maybe love makes you suspicious and doubting. Is it true that when you love a woman you are never sure -- never sure of her because you aren't sure of yourself?

--John Steinbeck


white boat on sea under white sky during daytime

Oh, strawberries don't taste as they used to and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
And some men eased themselves like setting hens into the nest of death.

--John Steinbeck

bare trees under blue sky

Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.

--John Steinbeck


woman on seashore near island under blue sky

He shoveled the bacon out on a plate and broke the eggs in the hot grease and they
jumped and fluttered their edges to brown lace and made clucking sounds.

--John Steinbeck



white and yellow flower in close up photography

Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is.

--John Steinbeck

two gray pencils on yellow surface

It is better to sit in appreciative contemplation of a world in which beauty is eternally supported on a foundation of ugliness: cut out the support, and beauty will sink from sight.

--John Steinbeck


three clear drinking glasses with brown liquid

You never oughta drink water when it ain't runnin'.

--John Steinbeck

purple flowered hedge plants

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find himself a good and sufficient reason for going.

--John Steinbeck

blue parrot standing on brown tree branch

I guess this is why I hate governments, all governments. It is always the rule, the fine print, carried out by fine-print men. There's nothing to fight, no wall to hammer with frustrated fists.

--John Steinbeck


blue and white striped textile

Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.

--John Steinbeck


woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring

And the great owners, who had become through the might of their holdings both more and less than men.

--John Steinbeck

woman in white and black stripe long sleeve shirt standing beside brown concrete building during daytime

Socialism is just another form of religion, and thus delusional.

--John Steinbeck

person standing on rock formation during daytime

But you can't start over Only a boy can start over You and me Why, we're all that's been.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me -- why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thousand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us. We can't start again.



a woman sits on the end of a dock during daytime staring across a lake

So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world.

--John Steinbeck

grayscale photo of woman wearing collared shirt

Don't you love Jesus?' Well, I thought an' I thought an' finally I says, 'No, I don't know nobody name' Jesus. I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people.

--John Steinbeck

brown tree branch during daytime

He was born in Bercy on the outskirts of Paris and trained in France, and while he knows a little Poodle-English, he responds quickly only to commands in French. Otherwise he has to translate, and that slows him down.

--John Steinbeck

yellow sunflower field under blue sky during daytime

Kino heard the little splash of morning waves on the beach. It was very good -- Kino closed his eyes again to listen to his music.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit--for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

--Steinbeck Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.


silhouette photography of wavy ocean

The utter insanity of living in a place like this doesn't occur to the 9,000,000 people who inhabit New York. Except for visits I think I shall not be here any more as a resident.

--John Steinbeck

yellow flower

It's one of the great fallacies, it seems to me, that time gives much of anything but years and sadness to man.

--John Steinbeck

white pendant lamp

Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of a human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.

--John Steinbeck

Longer Version:

Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, and their responsibilities have been decreed by our species... the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit -- for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.


castle surrounded fog

The candle aimed its spark of light at heaven, like an artist who consumes himself to become divine.

--John Steinbeck

minimalist photography of open door

Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody -- to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody.

--John Steinbeck

worm's eye view of trees during night time

Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish.

--John Steinbeck

Arizona landscape donkey

A dog...is a bond between strangers.

--John Steinbeck


women's black and pink monokini

Once you have lived in New York and made it your home, no place else is good enough.

--John Steinbeck


close shot of yellow flowers

He's eating God the way a bear eats meat against the winter.

--John Steinbeck


solid background

You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.

--John Steinbeck

white ceramic pencil organizer on top of stack of books

Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man.

--John Steinbeck

selective focus photography of pink petaled flower

I've always tried out my material on my dogs first. Years ago, when my red setter chewed up the manuscript of 'Of Mice and Men,' I said at the time that the dog must have been an excellent literary critic.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette photography of person in gray sailing boat in the middle of body of water

You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.

--John Steinbeck


woman in white shirt sitting on brown rock near lake during daytime

Time is the only critic without ambition.

--John Steinbeck

clear hour glass beside pink flowers

I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.

--John Steinbeck

crescent moon above mountain

The first grave. Now we're getting someplace. Houses and children and graves, that's home, Tom. Those are the things that hold a man down.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of mountains under blue sky during daytime

And you know what it is? San Francisco a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.

--John Steinbeck

silhouette of mountain

You know what it is? San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.

--John Steinbeck


red flame

I always found in myself a dread of the west and a love of the east.

--John Steinbeck

woman holding cake looking up

A man without words is a man without thought.

--John Steinbeck


couple sitting on the field facing the city

People like you to be something, preferably what they are.

--John Steinbeck

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.

--John Steinbeck

We wish you a perfect day!