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John Steinbeck

Updated on November 19, 2013

Nobel Prize In Literature 1962

I first read Steinbeck when I was around 25. My dad mentioned to me that he was reading Steinbeck and thought I might enjoy his writings as well. I DID! I LOVE Steinbeck's way with words and amazing talent in creating characters. You find yourself so involved with his characters that you are sure you know them. It is because we have all known people like them I think.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968), born in Salinas, California




listen to some Buffalo Springfield

as you enjoy my lens!


Three reasons to love John Steinbeck


Three reasons to love John Steinbeck?

Tortilla Flat

Cannery Row

Of Mice and Men

Great John Steinbeck stuff from Amazon

John Steinbeck Quotes

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

John Steinbeck

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

John Steinbeck

A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ.

John Steinbeck

Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.

John Steinbeck

Give a critic an inch, he'll write a play.

John Steinbeck

I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.

John Steinbeck

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

John Steinbeck

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

John Steinbeck

I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why, then, do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier?

John Steinbeck

I have owed you this letter for a very long time-but my fingers have avoided the pencil as though it were an old and poisoned tool.

John Steinbeck

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

I've lived in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate.

John Steinbeck

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

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

If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones.

John Steinbeck

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

John Steinbeck

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.

John Steinbeck

It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.

John Steinbeck

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.

John Steinbeck

It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome but if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth.

John Steinbeck

It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.

John Steinbeck

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

John Steinbeck

Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.

John Steinbeck

Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.

John Steinbeck

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.

John Steinbeck

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

John Steinbeck

No one wants advice - only corroboration.

John Steinbeck

One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.

John Steinbeck

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

John Steinbeck

Sectional football games have the glory and the despair of war, and when a Texas team takes the field against a foreign state, it is an army with banners.

John Steinbeck

So in our pride we ordered for breakfast an omelet, toast and coffee and what has just arrived is a tomato salad with onions, a dish of pickles, a big slice of watermelon and two bottles of cream soda.

John Steinbeck

Syntax, my lad. It has been restored to the highest place in the republic.

John Steinbeck

The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.

John Steinbeck

The impulse of the American woman to geld her husband and castrate her sons is very strong.

John Steinbeck

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

John Steinbeck

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

These words dropped into my childish mind as if you should accidentally drop a ring into a deep well. I did not think of them much at the time, but there came a day in my life when the ring was fished up out of the well, good as new.

John Steinbeck

Time is the only critic without ambition.

John Steinbeck

Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.

John Steinbeck

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

John Steinbeck

Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there's time, the Bastard Time.

John Steinbeck

Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.

John Steinbeck

Pele and Her Undying Vengeance No Matter a Fairies Plea

A Poem by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen

A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ. ~John Steinbeck

As I read that by Steinbeck I had to consider a certain sadness that many have and how destructive it can be. I fold into that air as well at times. Thus I write these poems that express it. Steinbeck was such a creative force that brings me to my knees.. to pray for my own creative life to know what he knew.

"Pele and Her Undying Vengeance No Matter a Fairies Plea"

Out beyond the minds eye

there stood a delicate forest

lighted by hope

that glowed.

Yet the Caitiff found it

and the fairies


ever so pathetically


stood in the open pathway

for they


did not know.

And so


they sat in waiting


of a fires power

and the eminent cruelty


that would ultimately



There would be no allies

rushing in to save them.

Flower nymphs


stayed huddled from the wind

waiting for a moment

when rain

would once again

find its way past the trees

and toss them

to a fairy's soft breeze.

Ohh human butterfly

and their wings


no place to hide

no refuse

no wiping of tears

after sorrow

making them

and me... I might add

wise spies

of undying hopefulness.

Tall along the landscape

in a far off land

there are trees


to this very day.

Take a moment

and remember them

like the lily and flowers in waiting

fore time sets on every sunrise

and sunset

in waiting.

Pele set her mark

fire breathing past a lily

no matter

a flowers



Pele has her own marks


to impart.

Made into statues

tall posts

reminding all who seek

a history

in love

there was once an angel

a fairies song undying


with memories


and yes


of Pele

and her undying


And so

let it be known

on any shoreline

that a hope is a hope

no matter the skyline.

ABOUT Kathy Ostman-Magnusen: I am an artist, represented by Monkdogz Urban Art, New York. ORIGINAL ART may be purchased through Monkdogz:

FREE ART GIFTS, suitable for children plus prints, giclees, cards, available on my website:

the image is of my sculpture "Bleeding Wings 5"

The Night John Steinbeck Died

Neil Young

Neil young singing for the people.

Four Strong Winds (farmaid 2007 )

I Met a Mystic Along a Dusty Pathway

A poem by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen

Thinking of the way Steinbeck brought out characters in his stories .. ahh such a MASTER!


There was a mystic

along the pathway

I saw him from a distance.

It became clear as I approached him

that I

was in the face of truth.

My eyes blurred

mixed with tears

for I had never seen magic

up close before.

I had never embraced the truth

in such pure form

as that afternoon

there on a simple dirt road.

I could not speak.

I could barely think really

it was a day that felt too bright

to look upon

and so

I did indeed

look away from him

as he began to pass me by.

He didn't pass me by though.


he stood directly in front of me.

I had nowhere to look

but up.

Up to see his eyes on mine.

Feelings of being found out

my plight

my woes

my insecurities

about a forever meaning

he seemed to spy them all.

I was

to me at least


What is it that causes us to spill all

when confronted with pure honesty?

Embracing it seemed past logic

it encompassed a certain instinct

one that reels in misgivings about grace.

My will was overpowered

not because I had been beaten into submission

not because proof had glared at me

causing me to succumb.


It was a holiness that filled the air

a rainbow on my skin

and a dance

that lead past the skyline.

What I expected from his eyes

seeing me

seeing through me

was a book of rules...

Now you do this

and no more of that.

But the Mystic

only gave me an empty pages

and said

Find your own way

and with every step you take

remember your place in this world

for it is just as holy

as the dawning of a recognition

a removed veil

that reveals the pureness of beauty itself.

Open your eyes

and see the light of creativity.

It has been present all the while

you simply lost your way

and stopped looking for it.

Open your eyes

for a host of elegance displayed.

I could not accept such generosity.

But what about the list

of things that are wrong with me

I don't see it within these pages.

There is no need to write that down

he calmly said

those things seem to burn within you

on their own

you already know your frailties.

Focus on the lovely things

know when others need your help

in seeing those things too.

Take of your shoes

if someone needs them

and you'll be fine.

I wanted to fall to the ground

kiss his feet

but in the very moment

that I accepted his words

he was...


I thought of Rumi then

of that quote I had rehearsed so many times:

"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground." ~ Rumi

And there

along the roadside

I did kiss the ground.


ABOUT Kathy Ostman-Magnusen: I am an artist, represented by Monkdogz Urban Art, New York. ORIGINAL ART may be purchased through Monkdogz:

FREE ART GIFTS,suitable for children plus prints, giclees, cards, available on my website:

Quick, what do you think of John Steinbeck?

See results

Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth (Monterey 1967)

Neil Young OLD MAN

Old Man lyrics:

Old man look at my life,

I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,

I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,

Twenty four

and there's so much more

Live alone in a paradise

That makes me think of two.

Love lost, such a cost,

Give me things

that don't get lost.

Like a coin that won't get tossed

Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life

I'm a lot like you

I need someone to love me

the whole day through

Ah, one look in my eyes

and you can tell that's true.

Lullabies, look in your eyes,

Run around the same old town.

Doesn't mean that much to me

To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last

Look at how the time goes past.

But I'm all alone at last.

Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life

I'm a lot like you

I need someone to love me

the whole day through

Ah, one look in my eyes

and you can tell that's true.

Old man look at my life,

I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,

I'm a lot like you were.

The music of Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young

Share your stories, sightings, thoughts, rants, raves...

Shout Out For John Steinbeck!

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    • Demaw profile image


      6 years ago

      I also enjoyed reading his novella "The Pearl". It was required reading in school but very good (and sad) reading.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      6 years ago

      i remember my lit prof.'s question, name me a contemporary writer and i said steinbeck. squidangel blessings.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      You have inspired me to experience Steinbeck once again. And, I am also feeling inspired to take a road trip... to immerse myself in places I have not known (always the inward journey inward). Appreciated your reflections and insights. Thank you!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      A beautifully detailed lens. I was almost obsessed with The Grapes of Wrath when I was young (mandatory reading in school). I found the book and the movie so moving.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      he was a contemporary author and grapes of wrath was his best. thank you for sharing your nice memories of san francisco. as you tell the story, i was there with you. rent-a-wreck is everywhere even in the east coast.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      6 years ago from McLaughlin

      My favorite is Grapes of Wrath! Thanks for all the insights into this author! Squid Angel Blessed!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      9 years ago

      One of the, if not the, great American writers. I read Grapes of Wrath for the first time when I was in high school. But there are other great ones.

      Thanks for this 58 lens!

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      10 years ago from Sweden

      I agree that Steinbeck is an outstanding writer! He was rewarded with the Swedish Nobel prize in litterature. I have a lens about that! 5* for this lens!

    • kathysart profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Ohhh me too! I felt the same about Cannery Row.. what an author Steinbeck was.

      Thanks so much for your comment Kennect. I will return the favor of a review!


      Fantasy Art Woman|Beautiful Women Goddess Art:

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Friends, I have always been a fan ever since I first read Cannery Row,a hot and vibrant story where you can almost see and smell the sea and the saltiness in the air.


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