John Steinbeck

(John Ernst Steinbeck Jr.)

John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
  • Born: February 27, 1902
  • Died: December 20, 1968
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Author

68

Quotes

31

Citations

168

Concepts

0

Videos

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
A great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It's a breed — selected out by accident. And so we're overbrave and overfearful — we're kind and cruel as children. We're overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We're oversentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic — and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? States. Nations & Nationhood
And 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. And this I must fight against: any religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. Freedom & Liberty
Boileau said that Kings, Gods and Heroes only were fit subjects for literature. The writer can only write about what he admires. Present-day kings aren't very inspiring, the gods are on a vacation and about the only heroes left are the scientists and the poor … And since our race admires gallantry, the writer will deal with it where he finds it. He finds it in the struggling poor now. Poverty
Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother’s cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better. History
Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams…. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn't have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves. Liberals & Conservatives
How will we know it’s us without our past? History
I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for it is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost. Freedom & Liberty
I think the boy [Richard Nixon] should be attacked, but frontally, not obliquely. . . . Reference was made to lampoons and satires in times past. What we did not discuss was whether they were successful. Did Swift ever win an election? . . . The more I think of it the less convinced I am that it is a good, meaning effectual, plan at all. We need direct attacks-- kidney punch zingers, like “Nixon plays both sides of the gutter” or “Part Boy Scout and part scorpion” … All of these are dirty, but as I said, the man who tries Queensberry against gutter fighting is going to get the hell kicked out of him. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction. Development & Growth ;Capitalism
I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction. Development & Growth ;Capitalism
It has always seemed strange to me. The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. Human Nature
It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome but if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth. Miscellaneous
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches — nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
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. Human Nature ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
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. Human Nature
No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself. Human Nature
No one knows how greatness comes to a man. It may lie in his blackness, sleeping, or it may lance into him like those driven fiery particles from outer space. These things, however, are known about greatness: need gives it life and puts it in action; it never comes without pain; it leaves a man changed, chastened, and exalted at the same time--he can never return to simplicity... Human Nature
No one wants advice, only corroboration.. Human Nature
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man Miscellaneous
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power. Power
Reporters were all part of the war effort. They went along with it, and not only that, they abetted it.…It is in the things not mentioned that the untruth lies.…They wrote only a part of the war Media, Journalism & The Press
Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word ... A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner. Miscellaneous
The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The great companies did not know that the line between hunger and anger is a thin line. Business, Commerce & Finance
The new American finds his challenge and his love in the traffic-choked streets, skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, the screech of rubber and houses leashed in against one another while the townlets wither a time and die. This is not offered in criticism but only as observation. And I am sure that, as all pendulums reverse their swing, so eventually will the swollen cities rupture like dehiscent wombs and disperse their children back to the countryside. Environment & Environmentalism
This is why I hate governments. It is always the rule, the fine print, carried out by the fine print men. There's nothing to fight, no wall to hammer with frustrated fists. Bureaucracy
We all have that heritage, no matter what old land our fathers left. All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It's a breed — selected out by accident. And so we're overbrave and overfearful — we're kind and cruel as children. We're overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We're oversentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic — and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? We eat too much. We have no taste, no sense of proportion. We throw our energy about like waste. In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without an intervening culture. Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture? States. Nations & Nationhood
We have usurped many of the powers we once ascribed to God. Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life or death of the whole world — of all living things. The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectibility is at hand. Having taken Godlike power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility and the wisdom we once prayed some deity might have. Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope. Power
We value virtue but do not discuss it. The honest bookkeeper, the faithful wife, the earnest scholar get little of our attention compared to the embezzler, the tramp, the cheat. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Travel
A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. Families, Children & Parenting
A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ.
Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.
Give a critic an inch, he'll write a play.
I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.
I hate cameras. They are so much more sure than I am about everything.
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why, then, do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier? Life
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.
I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones.
In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.
It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.
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. Morning
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. Death
I've lived in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate.
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.
Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.
Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased. Time
No one wants advice - only corroboration.
One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.
Sectional football games have the glory and the despair of war, and when a Texas team takes the field against a foreign state, it is an army with banners. War & Peace
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.
Syntax, my lad. It has been restored to the highest place in the republic.
The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. Business, Commerce & Finance
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
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. Life ;Time
Time is the only critic without ambition. Time
Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.
We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it. Time
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. Time
Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.
You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.