Study Guide

John Steinbeck Quotes

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"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, Travels With Charley

"When I wrote The Grapes of Wrath, I was filled, naturally, with certain angers—certain angers at people who were doing injustices to other people, or so I thought. I realize now that everyone was caught in the same trap. If you remember, we had a Depression at that time. The Depression caught us without the ability to take care of it. It took a long time for us to develop the agencies to take care of such economic difficulties. When the dust came up, people were starving; they had no place to go. Naturally, they went in a direction where they would not suffer from cold: they went toward California. They came in the thousands to California.

John Steinbeck, interview on British radio

"The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. "Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat - for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature."

John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1962

"Do you suppose you could ask Edgar's boys to stop stepping on my heels? They think I am an enemy alien. It is getting tiresome."

John Steinbeck, letter to U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle regarding his FBI surveillance, 1942

"RESOLVED, that we, the BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, in defense of our free enterprise and of people who have been unduly wronged, request that production of the motion picture film, Grapes of Wrath, adapted from the Steinbeck novel, not be completed by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and request that use and possession and circulation of the novel, Grapes of Wrath, be banned from our library and schools."

Resolution presented 21 August 1939 at the meeting of the Kern County (California) Board of Supervisors

"A writer of worldwide influence, [Steinbeck] has helped America to understand herself by finding universal themes in the experience of men and women everywhere."

Presidential Medal of Freedom, official site

"His sympathies always go out to the oppressed, to the misfits and the distressed; he likes to contrast the simple joy of life with the brutal and cynical craving for money. But in him we find the American temperament also in his great feeling for nature, for the tilled soil, the wasteland, the mountains, and the ocean coasts, all an inexhaustible source of inspiration to Steinbeck in the midst of, and beyond, the world of human beings."

Anders Osterling, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, presenting Steinbeck with the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature

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

John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

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