John Steinbeck Quotes About Success, Life, Writing and Love

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr., an American author who lived from February 27, 1902, to December 20, 1968, received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature. His “realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and acute social perception” were praised. He has been referred to as “a giant of American letters.”

76 John Steinbeck Quotes

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  1. “All great and precious things are lonely.”
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2. “To be alive at all is to have scars.”

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3. “Anything that just costs money is cheap.”

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4. “A man without words is a man without thought.”

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5. “I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”

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

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7. “Don’t make everyone know about your sadness.”

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

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9. “Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won’t all be poor.”

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

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11. “Man has a choice and it’s a choice that makes him a man.”

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

13. “There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.”

14. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

Famous John Steinbeck Quotes

15. “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.”

16. “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”

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

18. “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment.”

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

20. “It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

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

22. “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.”

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

24. “I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east.”

John Steinbeck Quotes On Love and Life

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

26. “The break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath.”

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

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

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29. “I’m tired of people who have not been at war who know all about it.”

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

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

32. “We do know that we are cheated from birth to the overcharge on our coffins.”

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

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

Thought-Provoking John Steinbeck Quotes

35. “The people say that the two seemed to be removed from human experience; that they had gone through pain and had come out on the other side.”

36. “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.”

37. “Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”

38. “Out of all this struggle a good thing is going to grow. That makes it worthwhile.”

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

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40. “No one who is young is ever going to be old.”

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

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

43. “You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.”

44. “Money is not nice. Money got no friends but more money.”

The Beauty of Steinbeck’s Prose: A Selection of John Steinbeck’s Greatest Quotes

45. “Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.”

46. “She knew she could help him best by being silent and by being near.”

47. “Nearly everybody has his box of secret pain, shared with no one.”

48. “I guess there are never enough books.”

49. “When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you’ve got two new people.”

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

51. “The final weapon is the brain, all else is supplemental.”

52. “Men seem to be born with a debt they can never pay no matter how hard they try.”

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

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

Inspirational Quotes from John Steinbeck’s Works

55. “Life passes by in a wink so try to never miss a moment of it.”

56. “All men are moral. Only their neighbors are not.”

57. “If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.”

58. “Again it might have been the American tendency in travel. One goes, not so much to see but to tell afterward.”

59. “There’s something desirable about anything you’re used to as opposed to something you’re not.”

60. “I nearly always write just as I nearly always breathe.”

61. “I guess I’m trying to say, Grab anything that goes by. It may not come around again.”

62. “You stay out here a little while, an’ if you smell any roses, you come let me smell, too.”

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

64. “Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain and if you don’t believe that, watch an illiterate adult try to do it.”

John Steinbeck quotes on the human condition

65. “Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.”

66. “What pillow can one have like a good conscience?”

67. “It is easy to find a logical and virtuous reason for not doing what you don’t want to do.”

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68. “If you want to keep a friend, never test him.”

69. “There’s a responsibility in being a person. It’s more than just taking up space where air would be.”

70. “The land is so much more than its analysis.”

71. “It is possible, even probable, to be told a truth about a place, to accept it, to know it and at the same time not to know anything about it.”

72. “Like most modern people, I don’t believe in prophecy or magic and then spend half my time practicing it.”

73. “Only God sees the sparrow fall, but even God doesn’t do anything about it.”

74. “For every man in the world functions to the best of his ability, and no one does less than his best, no matter what he may think about it.”

75. “You can’t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory.”

76. “You’re buying years of work, toil in the sun; you’re buying a sorrow that can’t talk.”

John Steinbeck wrote 33 books during his writing career, including 16 novels, six non-fiction works, and two collections of short stories. He coauthored one book with Edward Ricketts. He is best known for his humorous books, such as Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), as well as his epic work, East of Eden (1952), which spans several generations, and his novellas, The Red Pony (1933) and Of Mice and Men (1937). The Grapes of Wrath, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939, is regarded as Steinbeck’s masterpiece and a staple of American literature. It sold 14 million copies in the first 75 years after it was published.

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