Hell Yes, John Steinbeck


“I am losing a sense of self to a marked degree and that is a pleasant thing. A couple of years ago I realized that I was not the material of which great artists are made and that I was rather glad I wasn’t. And since then I have been happier simply to do the work and to take the reward at the end of every day that is given for a day of honest work. I grow less complicated all the time and that is a joy to me.”

A letter from John Steinbeck to his former classmate and roommate Carl Wilhelmson. At the time, Steinbeck was caring for his aging father and awaiting the publication of his second novel, To the Unknown God. (From The American Reader)

My senses aren’t above reproach, but they’re all I have. I want to see the whole picture—as nearly as I can. I don’t want to put on the blinders of ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ and limit my vision. If I used the term ‘good’ on a thing I’d lose my license to inspect it, because there might be bad in it. Don’t you see? I want to be able to look at the whole thing.

John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle (via psyentists)

But it isn’t silly, this preoccupation with small time units. One thing late or early can disrupt everything around it, and the disturbance tuns outward in bands like the waves from a dropped stone in a quiet pool.

Narrator, East of Eden by John Steinbeck (via literaryquotations)

Maybe both of us have got a piece of him. Maybe that’s what immortality is.

Lee, East of Eden by John Steinbeck (via literaryquotations)

What do I want in a doctor? Perhaps more than anything else—a friend with special knowledge. If you had never dived and I were with you, it would be my purpose to instruct you in the depths and dangers, of the pleasant and the malign. I guess I mean the same thing somewhat. We are so made that rascally, unsubtle flares may cause a meaningless panic whereas a secret treason may be nibbling away, unannounced or even pleasant as in the rapture of the deep.

Part of an excellent letter written by John Steinbeck, in reply to the question “Any other data you think may be of importance?” on his new doctor’s medical-history form.

Read the rest of this letter at Letters of Note: What do I want in a doctor?

(via cranquis)

When you say I deserve a rest, you are saying that my life is over.

Samuel Hamilton, East of Eden by John Steinbeck (via literaryquotations)

One day Samuel strained his back lifting a bale of hay, and it hurt his feelings more than his back, for he could not imagine a life in which San Hamilton was not privileged to lift a bale of hay. He felt insulted by his back, almost as he would have been if one of his children had been dishonest.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden (p.254-255)

The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes down on a happy man.

John Steinbeck, page 65 of Tortilla Flat (via willssingalongblog)

It was curious how soberly they drank that night. It was three hours before they sang even an obscene song.

John Steinbeck, page 211 of Tortilla Flat (via willssingalongblog)

We can shoot rockets into space but we can’t cure anger or discontent.

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, The Pearl (via itsfromabook)

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