John Steinbeck Quotes

Most popular John Steinbeck Quotes

No one wants advice—only corroboration.


No one wants advice, only corroboration.
— John Steinbeck


Time is the only critic without ambition.


A question is a trap, and an answer your foot in it.

asking questions

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


There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.

asking questions

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

human nature

An answer is invariably the parent of a great family of new questions.

answers asking questions

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


A book is like a man—clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly.


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

human nature

It is the nature of a man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.
— John Steinbeck
A man on a horse is spiritually as well as physically bigger than a man on foot.


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


The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
— John Steinbeck
The profession of book-writing makes horse-racing seem like a solid, stable business.

books writing publishing

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
— John Steinbeck


People need responsibility. They resist assuming it, but they cannot get along without it.


I guess a man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, and then steps in it.

mankind man the animal

I dislike helplessness in other people and in myself, and this is by far my greatest fear of illness.


One man was so mad at me that he ended his letter: 'Beware. You will never get out of this world alive.
— 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


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

understanding others

It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.

change protest

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.

committees sleep problem-solving

Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory.  Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.

greatness victory & defeat

Looking back, you can usually find the moment of the birth of a new era, whereas, when it happened, it was one day hooked on to the tail of another.
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.
— John Steinbeck

writing advice

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.


Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
— John Steinbeck


Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings.


If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another.


And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.


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.
— John Steinbeck


A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator.


A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals.  He isn't telling or teaching or ordering.  Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing.

communication writers

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.


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.
— John Steinbeck