Looking for famous quotes by American author and writer John Ernst Steinback Jr. We have rounded up the best collection of John Steinbeck quotes, sayings, phrases, captions, (with images and pictures), from his classic novels and books.
John Steinbeck (1902–1968) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, and short-story writer. He was popularly known for his imaginative and realistic writings, which involved sympathetic humor and keen social perception.
He won the prestigious Nobe Prize in literature in 1962 and was referred to as “A Giant of American Letters”.
During his writing career, Steinbeck penned 33 books, that included 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and two collections of short stories.
A lot of Steinback’s work are classics of Western literature and a part of American literary cannon. His comic novels are considered legendary in comic fiction today. Some of them include ‘Of Mice And Men’, ‘East Of Eden’, ‘Tortilla Flat’, ‘Cannery Row’, and ‘The Red Pony’.
Most of Steinbeck’s work gained him popularlity but he reached the top of his career from his masterpiece, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. It earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ sold 14 milion copies in the first 75 years after it was published.
His books and novels were a lot around the theme of fate and injustice, the same is seen in his quotes that stress a lot on life values, human nature, and social themes.
Explore and scroll below to find out some of the most meaningful quotes by John Steinbeck.
Top 10 John Steinbeck Quotes
“All great and precious things are lonely.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” ― John Steinbeck
“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you’ve got two new people.” ― John Steinbeck
“Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.” ― John Steinbeck
“The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“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.” ― 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 nearly always leads to love.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
Famous John Steinbeck Quotes From His Novels
Steinbeck’s first novel, Cup of Gold, was published in 1929. He produced three more shorter works between 1930 and 1933, those were The Pastures of Heaven (1932), The Red Pony (a hundred page. four chapter story related to Steinbeck’s childhood memories), and To a God Unknown.
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“I eat stories like grapes.” ― John Steinbeck, East Of Eden
“Anything that just costs money is cheap.” ― John Steinbeck
“Time is the only critic without ambition.” ― John Steinbeck
“One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.” ― John Steinbeck
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” ― John Steinbeck
“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” ― John Steinbeck
“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.” ― John Steinbeck
“Only mediocrity escapes criticism.” ― John Steinbeck, Steinbeck: A Life in Letters
“To be alive at all is to have scars. ” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“My imagination will get me a passport to hell one day.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“People like you to be something, preferably what they are.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I guess there are never enough books.” ― John Steinbeck, A John Steinbeck Encyclopedia
“The weight of knowledge is too great for one mind to absorb.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“If you want to destroy a nation, give it too much – make it greedy, miserable and sick.” ― John Steinbeck
“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
“Some people think it’s an insult to the glory of their sickness to get well.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Books are the best friends you can have; they inform you, and entertain you, and they don’t talk back.” — John Steinbeck
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” ― John Steinbeck
“There are some times…when the love for people is strong and warm like a sorrow.” ― John Steinbeck, To A God Unknown
“A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“He had an idea that even when beaten he could steal a little victory by laughing at defeat.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils since we invented them.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“It is the hour of pearl—the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.” ― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
“I shall revenge myself in the cruelest way you can imagine. I shall forget it.” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“You see, there’s a responsibility in being a person. It’s more than just taking up space where air would be.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I guess I’m trying to say, Grab anything that goes by. It may not come around again.” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“You can boast about anything if it’s all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“People who are most afraid of their dreams convince themselves they don’t dream at all.” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold onto this illusion, even though he knows it’s not true.” ― John Steinbeck
“Some men are friends with the whole world in their hearts, and there are others that hate themselves and spread their hatred around like butter on hot bread.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“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, Sweet Thursday
“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.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“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 shortcuts to love…” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“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, East of Eden
“That’s why I am talking to you. You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what it is, where most people see what they expect.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“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, East of Eden
“Teachers don’t just teach; they can be vital personalities who help young people to mature, to understand the world, and to understand themselves. A good education consists of much more than useful facts and marketable skills.” — John Steinbeck
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion is fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“It is a time of quiet joy, the sunny morning. When the glittery dew is on the mallow weeds, each leaf holds a jewel which is beautiful if not valuable. This is no time for hurry or for bustle. Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.” ― John Steinbeck , Tortilla Flat
“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, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
“It’s all fine to say, “Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget”—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.” ― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
“For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.” ― John Steinbeck, The Pearl
“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.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“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, Cannery Row
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Best John Steinbeck Quotes on Socialism, Government, And Love
“No one wants advice – only corroboration. ” ― John Steinbeck
“Don’t make everyone know about your sadness.” ― John Steinbeck
“I believe that love cannot be bought except with love.” ― John Steinbeck
“A little hope, even hopeless hope, never hurt anybody.” ― John Steinbeck
“Socialism is just another form of religion, and thus delusional.” ― John Steinbeck
“A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief.” ― John Steinbeck
“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” ― John Steinbeck
“In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.” — John Steinbeck
“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
“I am happy to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger.” ― John Steinback
“If we could learn to like ourselves, even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away.” ― John Steinbeck
“It was a well-balanced family with its conservatives and its radicals, its dreamers and its realists.” — John Steinbeck
“Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all else, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.” — John Steinbeck
“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
“On all levels American society is rigged. I am troubled by the cynical immorality of my country. It cannot survive on this basis.” ― John Steinbeck
“I know now why confusion in government is not only tolerated but encouraged. I have learned. A confused people can make no clear demands.” ― John Steinbeck
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” ― John Steinbeck
“Give me a used Bible and I will, I think, be able to tell you about a man by the paces that are edged with the dirt of seeking fingers.” ― John Steinbeck, East Of Eden
“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
“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.” ― John Steinbeck
“In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
“A woman holds dreadful power over a man who is in love with her, but she should realize that the quality and force of his love is the index of his potential contempt and hatred.” ― John Steinbeck
“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
“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.” ― John Steinbeck
“Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there?” — 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 anymore.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“It’s all fine to say, “Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget”—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.” ― John Steinbeck, Book: “Cannery Row”
“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. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for this is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system.” ― John Steinbeck
“It was purple dusk, that sweet time when the day’s sleeping is over, and the evening of pleasure and conversation has not began. The pine trees were very black against the sky, and all objects on the ground were obscured with dark; but the sky was as mournfully bright as memory.” ― John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
John Steinbeck Quotes From The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck reached the epitome of his success from his novel “The Grapes Of Wrath” in 1939. It is considered as Steinbeck’s greatest work and it won the National Book Award for the favorite fiction book of 1939.
“It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.” ― John Steinbeck
“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.” ― John Steinbeck
“How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past?” ― John Steinbeck
“If you’re in trouble or hurt or need–go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help–the only ones.” ― John Steinbeck
“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” ― John Steinbeck
More About John Steinbeck’s Life & Books
Born: 27 February 1902, Salinas, CA, USA
Died: 20 December 1968, New York, NY, USA
Residence at the time of the award: USA
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962
Prize motivation: “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”
Steinbeck achieved his first major success for his comic novel Tortilla Flat (1935), a novel set in post-war Monterey, California.
Then he began to write a series of “California novels” and dust bowl fiction which included In Dubious Battle, Of Mice And Men, and The Grapes Of Wrath.
Most of Steinback’s work were set in central California, especially in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works involved common themes of fate and injustice, especially protagonists who are downtrodden and are relatable to the “ordinary man”.
Steinbeck also wrote The Harvest Gypsies, an article series that spoke about the plight of the migrant worker.
Among his later works should be mentioned East of Eden (1952), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), and Travels with Charley (1962), a travelogue in which Steinbeck wrote about his impressions during a three-month tour in a truck that led him through forty American states.
He died in New York City in 1968.
If you like these quotes by John Steinbeck then check our collection of Jim Rohn quotes and Jack Kornfield quotes to inspire you with his wise words about love, life, success, wisdom, and leadership.
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I am Ananya, a professional speaker and I love motivating people and inspiring them to pursue their dreams. Sharing quotes, proverbs, and sayings of great authors to touch people's lives to make it better.