200+ "John Steinbeck" Quotes And Sayings

John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902. He was the third of six children of John Ernst Steinbeck and Olive Hamilton. When he was nine years old his father died and his mother moved the family to nearby Monterey, California. He attended Monterey High School and then Stanford University, where he earned a B.A Read more

in English and comparative literature in 1924. While still at Stanford, Steinbeck wrote his first short story, "The Chrysanthemums." His most significant work is the nonfiction book The Grapes of Wrath (1939), which is considered an American classic and winner of the National Book Award. It tells the story of migrant workers during the Great Depression.

Although critically acclaimed, it sold poorly until it was adapted into a motion picture in 1940, which won five Oscars and established John Steinbeck as a major writer. He continued to write fiction throughout his life and published several novels that were later made into films: Of Mice and Men (1937) and East of Eden (1952) are among his most famous works. Steinbeck also wrote two novels based on the life of his father: The Wayward Bus (1947) and The Winter of Our Discontent (1961).

He died in New York City on December 20, 1968.

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold...
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. John Steinbeck
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. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second. John Steinbeck
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of...
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power. John Steinbeck
Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create - this...
Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create - this is man. John Steinbeck
Tom felt his darkness. His father was beautiful and clever, his mother was short and mathematically sure. Each of his brothers and sisters had looks or gifts or fortune. Tom loved all of them passionately, but he felt heavy and earth-bound. He climbed ecstatic mountains and floundered in the rocky darkness between the peaks. He had spurts of bravery but they were bracketed in battens of cowardice. John Steinbeck
Mr. Trask, do you think the thoughts of people suddenly become important at a given age? Do you have sharper feelings or clearer thoughts now than when you were ten? Do you see as well, hear as well, taste as vitally? John Steinbeck
There's more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful...
There's more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty. John Steinbeck
Sometimes, a lie is told in kindness. I don't believe it ever works kindly. The quick pain of truth can pass away, but the slow, eating agony of a lie is never lost. John Steinbeck
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
Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature. John Steinbeck
You got a God. Don't make no difference if you...
You got a God. Don't make no difference if you don' know what he looks like. John Steinbeck
In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused. At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against? . John Steinbeck
A man without words is a man without thought.
A man without words is a man without thought. John Steinbeck
Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. John Steinbeck
It seems to me that if you or I must...
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 to the world. John Steinbeck
Casy said solemnly, "This here ol' man jus' lived a life an' just died out of it. I don't know whether he was good or bad, but that don't matter much. He was alive, an' that's what matters. An' now his dead, an' that don't matter... John Steinbeck
Death is a personal matter, arousing sorrow, despair, fervor, or dry-hearted philosophy. Funerals, on the other hand, are social functions. Imagine going to a funeral without first polishing the automobile. Imagine standing at a graveside not dressed in your best dark suit and your best black shoes, polished delightfully. Imagine sending flowers to a funeral with no attached card to prove you had done the correct thing. In no social institution is the codified ritual of behavior more rigid than in funerals. Imagine the indignation if the minister altered his sermon or experimented with facial expression. Consider the shock if, at the funeral parlors, any chairs were used but those little folding yellow torture chairs with the hard seats. No, dying, a man may be loved, hated, mourned, missed; but once dead he becomes the chief ornament of a complicated and formal social celebration. John Steinbeck
It is argued that because they believed thoroughly in a just, moral God they could put there faith there and let the smaller insecurities take care of themselves. But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potential moral units- because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coat-tails. John Steinbeck
And now they were weary and frightened because they had gone against a system they did not understand and it had beaten them. They knew that the team and the wagon were worth much more. They knew the buyer man would get much more, but they didn't know how to do it. Merchandising was a secret to them. John Steinbeck
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn...
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. John Steinbeck