John Steinbeck Quotes

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.--John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck (1902–1968) was an American writer and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception. He has been called a giant of American letters.

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).

Here is a selection of some of John Steinbeck most famous quotes. Motivational John Steinbeck quotes for success in life. John Steinbeck meaningful quotes. Top 20 John Steinbeck quotes, the author of east of Eden. John Steinbeck quotes about socialism, friendship and love.



John Steinbeck Famous Quotes and Sayings

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

一John Steinbeck

I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen.

一John Steinbeck

All great and precious things are lonely.

一John Steinbeck

Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.

一John Steinbeck

I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.

一John Steinbeck

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—Thou mayest— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if Thou mayest—it is also true that Thou mayest not.

一John Steinbeck

There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.

一John Steinbeck

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.

一John Steinbeck

I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why.

一John Steinbeck

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

一John Steinbeck

I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

I guess there are never enough books.

一John Steinbeck

Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? ...Well, think about it. Maybe you're playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.

一John Steinbeck

To be alive at all is to have scars.

一John Steinbeck

When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you've got two new people.

一John Steinbeck

When a child first catches adults out — when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just — his world falls into panic desolation.

一John Steinbeck

I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.

一John Steinbeck

My imagination will get me a passport to hell one day.

一John Steinbeck

Anything that just costs money is cheap.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.

一John Steinbeck

A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.

一John Steinbeck

A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.

一John Steinbeck

A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

I shall revenge myself in the cruelest way you can imagine. I shall forget it.

一John Steinbeck

When a man says he does not want to speak of something he usually means he can think of nothing else.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

A man without words is a man without thought.

一John Steinbeck

An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There's a punishment for it, and it's usually crucifixion.

一John Steinbeck

Can you honestly love a dishonest thing?

一John Steinbeck

It's awful not to be loved. It's the worst thing in the world...It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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 idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.

一John Steinbeck

You've seen the sun flatten and take strange shapes just before it sinks in the ocean. Do you have to tell yourself every time that it's an illusion caused by atmospheric dust and light distorted by the sea, or do you simply enjoy the beauty of it?

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.

一John Steinbeck

And in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

一John Steinbeck

How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past?

一John Steinbeck

The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we".

一John Steinbeck

I am happy to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger.

一John Steinbeck

I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.

一John Steinbeck

No one who is young is ever going to be old.

一John Steinbeck

You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff.

一John Steinbeck

Men really do need sea-monsters in their personal oceans.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Don't make everyone know about your sadness.

一John Steinbeck

You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.

一John Steinbeck

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?

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance.

一John Steinbeck

I guess I'm trying to say, Grab anything that goes by. It may not come around again.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Man has a choice and it's a choice that makes him a man.

一John Steinbeck

Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create - this is man.

一John Steinbeck

He never fell, never slipped back, never flew.

一John Steinbeck

Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em.

一John Steinbeck

Intention, good or bad, is not enough.

一John Steinbeck

So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless.

一John Steinbeck

There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us.

一John Steinbeck

There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance. Good-by is short and final, a word with teeth sharp to bite through the string that ties past to the future.

一John Steinbeck

We can shoot rockets into space but we can't cure anger or discontent.

一John Steinbeck

What a frightening thing is the human, a mass of gauges and dials and registers, and we can only read a few and those perhaps not accurately.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.

一John Steinbeck

It is the hour of pearl—the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

We know what we got, and we don't care whether you know it or not.

一John Steinbeck

Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.

一John Steinbeck

And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen.

一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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

But you must give him some sign, some sign that you love him... or he'll never be a man. All his life he'll feel guilty and alone unless you release him.

一John Steinbeck

You can boast about anything if it's all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.

一John Steinbeck

Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.

一John Steinbeck

We could live offa the fatta the lan'.

一John Steinbeck

I'm jus' pain covered with skin.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Luck, you see, brings bitter friends.

一John Steinbeck

In poverty she is envious. In riches she may be a snob. Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

Failure is a state of mind. It's like one of those sand traps an ant lion digs. You keep sliding back. Takes one hell of a jump to get out of it.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

Well, every little boy thinks he invented sin. Virtue we think we learn, because we are told about it. But sin is our own designing.

一John Steinbeck

Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

When you're a child you're the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people? They're only ghosts furnished for you to talk to.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away. You must want it just enough, and you must be very tactful with Gods or the gods.

一John Steinbeck

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.

一John Steinbeck

You're going to pass something down no matter what you do or if you do nothing. Even if you let yourself go fallow, the weeds will grow and the brambles. Something will grow.

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck

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.

一John Steinbeck

He learned that when people are very poor they still have something to give and the impulse to give it.

一John Steinbeck

I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why, then, do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier?

一John Steinbeck

Time is the only critic without ambition.

一John Steinbeck

We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.

一John Steinbeck

No one wants advice - only corroboration.

一John Steinbeck

One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.

一John Steinbeck

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

一John Steinbeck


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