John Steinbeck

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Oh, we can populate the dark with horrors, even we who think ourselves informed and sure, believing nothing we cannot measure or weigh. I know beyond all doubt that the dark things crowding in on me either did not exist or were not dangerous to me, and still I was afraid.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Fear
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There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Evil
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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
Collection: Writing
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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
Collection: Eye
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The techniques of opening conversation are universal. I knew long ago and rediscovered that the best way to attract attention, help, and conversation is to be lost. A man who seeing his mother starving to death on a path kicks her in the stomach to clear the way, will cheerfully devote several hours of his time giving wrong directions to a total stranger who claims to be lost.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Mother
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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 town lets wither a time and die.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Love
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The land is so much more than its analysis.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Land
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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
Collection: Cutting
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I'm back with my own kind of people here now, the bums and drinkers and no goods and it is a fine thing.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Friendship
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Thou mayest rule over sin,' Lee. That's it. I do not believe all men are destroyed. I can name you a dozen who were not, and they are the ones the world lives by. It is true of the spirit as it is true of battles — only the winners are remembered.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Believe
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Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Ambition
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He can kill anything for need but he could not even hurt a feeling for pleasure.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Hurt
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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
Collection: Would Be
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Within that frame he went a long way and burned a deep scar.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Long
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I think there must have been some other girl printed somewhere in his heart, for he was a man of love and his wife was not a woman to show her feelings.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Girl
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for how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can remember only that you had them.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Pain
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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
Collection: Men
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I do want to make it very convincing. And the best way to do that is to put most of it in dialogue.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Writing
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It is astounding to find that the belly of every black and evil thing is as white as snow. And it is saddening to discover how the concealed parts of angels are leporous.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Angel
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I'll want to hear,' Samuel said. 'I eat stories like grapes.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Want
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Ever'body's askin' that. "What we comin' to?" Seems to me we don't never come to nothin'. Always on the way.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Literature
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But most important of all, the truth, that dangerous stuff, became beautiful and more precious.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Beautiful
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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
Collection: Book
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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
Collection: Strong
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Out of all this struggle a good thing is going to grow. That makes it worthwhile.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Struggle
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In poverty she is envious. In riches she may be a snob. Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Doe
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[Man] is the only animal who lives outside of himself, whose drive is in external things—property, houses, money, concepts of power. He lives in his cities and his factories, in his business and job and art. But having projected himself into these external complexities, he is them. His house, his automobile are a part of him and a large part of him. This is beautifully demonstrated by a thing doctors know—that when a man loses his possessions a very common result is sexual impotence.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Art
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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
Collection: Life
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You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: People
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It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Loss
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All great and precious things are lonely.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Lonely
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Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Helping Others
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A man on a horse is spiritually, as well as physically, bigger then a man on foot.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Horse
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It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Life
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All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: War
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I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Life
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What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Summer
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The nicest thing in the world you can do for anybody is let them help you.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: World
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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
Collection: Beautiful
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It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Hate
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My imagination will get me a passport to hell one day.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Imagination
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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
Collection: Courage
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I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Dog
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What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality! The only drawback in that freedom is that without it one would not be a human. One would be a monster.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Sex
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Niagara Falls is very nice. I'm very glad I saw it, because from now on if I am asked whether I have seen Niagara Falls I can say yes, and be telling the truth for once.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Travel
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A funeral isn't for the dead. You'll simply be a stage set for a kind of festival maybe. And besides, you won't even be there.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Funeral
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I have starved and it isn't nearly as bad as is generally supposed. Four days and a half was my longest stretch. Maybe there are pains that come later. Personally I think terror is the painful part of starvation.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Pain
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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
Collection: Eden
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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.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Boys