John Steinbeck

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Only God sees the sparrow fall, but even God doesn't do anything about it.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Fall
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Why do men like me want sons? he wondered. It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men, who are their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance at life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Wise
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And their greed was for gold or God. They collected souls as they collected jewels.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Jewels
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The Mexican War was a training ground for generals, so that when the sad self-murders settled on us, the leaders knew the techniques for making it properly horrible.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: War
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The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path or the breath caught at sight of a pretty girl or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Girl
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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...Why, that makes a man great...He can choose his course and fight it through and win...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'. ch 24
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Fighting
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A boy gets to be a man when a man is needed. Remember this thing. I have known boys forty years old because there was no need for a man.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Boys
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Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy - that's the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Memories
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A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Snakes
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'I know,' said Winter, 'but they don't know.' And he went on with a thought he had been having. 'A time-minded people,' he said, 'and the time is nearly up. They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.'
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Winter
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There is more beauty in truth, even if it is a dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Sweet
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I seen too many guys with land in their head. They never get none under their hand.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Hands
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It is a nice thing to be working and believing in my work again. I hope I can keep the drive. I only feel whole and well when it is this way.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Nice
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He never forgot anything but he never bothered to arrange his memories. -Hazel, Cannery Row
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Memories
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I have no interest in the printed word. I would continue to write if there were no writing and no print. I put my words down for a matter of memory. They are more made to be spoken than to be read.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Memories
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I have the instincts of a minstrel rather than those of a scrivener. There you have it. We are not of the same trade at all and so how can your rules fit me?
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Fit
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Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Duration
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It doesn't matter that Cathy was what I have called a monster. Perhaps we can't understand Cathy, but on the other hand we are capable of many things in all directions, of great virtues and great sins. And who in his mind has not probed the black water?
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Hands
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I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Dark
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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. Change may be announced by a small ache, so that you think you're catching cold. Or you may feel a faint disgust for something you loved yesterday. It may even take the form of a hunger that peanuts won't satisfy. Isn't overeating said to be one of the strongest symptoms of discontent. And isn't discontent the lever of change?
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Men
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War ... a reversal of the rules where a man is permitted to kill all the humans he can.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: War
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Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Fall
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I think I love you, Cal." -Abra I'm not good." -Cal Because you're not good." -Abra
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Love You
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(Suicide) takes some doing, with maybe pain and maybe hell.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Suicide
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It was a day as different from other days as dogs are from cats and both of them from chrysanthemums or tidal waves or scarlet fever.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Dog
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... every little boy thinks he invented sin.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Boys
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The American girl makes a servant of her husband and then finds him contemptible for being a servant
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Girl
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The difficulty of course is that I like women. It is only wives I am in trouble with.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Women
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Once I knew the City very well, spent my attic days there, while others were being a lost generation in Paris, I fledged in San Francisco, climbed its hills. slept in its parks, worked on its docks, marched and shouted in its revolts~ It had been to me in the days of my poverty and it did not resent my temporary solvency.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Cities
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My wants are simple. I have no desire to latch onto a monster symbol of fate and power and prove my manhood in titanic piscine war. But sometimes I do like a couple of cooperative fish of frying size.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Couple
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Man has become our greatest hazard, and our only hope.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Men
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In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Summer
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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
Collection: Animal
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When Kino had finished, Juana came back to the fire and ate her breakfast. They had spoken once, but there is not need for speech if it is only a habit anyway. Kino sighed with satisfaction - and that was conversation.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Fire
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This you may say of man - when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Religious
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Hate cannot live alone. It must have love as a trigger, a goad, or a stimulant.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Hate
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In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Men
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You got to live before you can afford to die.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Dies
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You never oughta drink water when it ain't runnin'.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Water
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But you can't start over Only a boy can start over You and me Why, we're all that's been
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Boys
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For many years we have suckled on fear and fear alone, and there is no good product of fear.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Years
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With knowledge there is no hope,... without hope I would sit motionless, rusting like unused armor.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Armor
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Then the hard, dry Spaniards came exploring through, greedy and realistic, and their greed was for gold or God. They collected souls as they collected jewels. They gathered mountains and valleys, rivers and whole horizons, the way a man might now gain tittle to building lots.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Men
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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
Collection: Mean
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I shall revenge myself in the cruelest way you can imagine. I shall forget it.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Revenge
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In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Inspiration
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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
Collection: Confused
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All men are moral. Only their neighbors are not.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Men
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A man without words is a man without thought.
- John Steinbeck
Collection: Life