Hell Yes, John Steinbeck

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I don’t mind getting smacked on the chin. I just don’t want to get nibbled to death. There’s a difference.

John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle (via fortunenglory)

It is the hour of the pearl—the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.

John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

Doc is the owner and operator of the Western Biological Laboratory. Doc is rather small, deceptively small, for he is wiry and very strong and when passionate anger comes on him he can be very fierce. He wears a beard and his face is half Christ and half satyr and his face tells the truth. It is said that he has helped many a girl out of one trouble and into another. Doc has the hands of a brain surgeon, and a cool warm mind. Doc tips his hat to dogs as he drives by and the dogs look up and smile at him. He can kill anything for need but he could not even hurt a feeling for pleasure. He has one great fear—that of getting his head wet, so that summer or winter he ordinarily wears a rain hat. He will wade in a tide pool up to the chest without feeling damp, but a drop of rain water on his head makes him panicky…Doc would listen to any kind of nonsense and change it for you to a kind of wisdom. His mind had no horizon—and his sympathy had no warp. He could talk to children, telling them very profound things so that they understood. He lived in a world of wonders, of excitement. He was concupiscent as a rabbit and gentle as hell. Everyone who knew him was indebted to him. And everyone who thought of him thought next, ‘I really must do something nice for Doc.’

John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

I have no choice of living or dying, you see, sir, but I do have a choice of how I do it.

John Steinbeck The Moon Is Down (via sempiternale)

Then I remembered something I heard long ago that I hope is true. It was unwritten law in China, so my informant told me, that when one man saved another’s life he became responsible for that life to the end of its existence. For, having interfered with a course of events, the savior could not escape his responsibility. And that has always made good sense to me.

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley (via darkoyster)

While he ate his sandwich and sipped his beer, a bit of conversation came back to him. Blaisedell, the poet, had said to him, ‘You love beer so much. I’ll bet some day you’ll go in and order a beer milk shake.’ It was a simple piece of foolery but it had bothered Doc ever since. He wondered what a beer milk shake would taste like. The idea gagged him but he couldn’t let it alone. It cropped up every time he had a glass of beer. Would it curdle the milk? Would you add sugar? It was like a shrimp ice cream. If a man ordered a beer milk shake, he thought, he’d better do it in a town where he wasn’t known. But then, a man with a beard, ordering a beer milk shake in a town where he wasn’t known - they might call the police. A man with a beard was always a little suspect anyway. You couldn’t say you wore a beard because you liked a beard. People didn’t like you for telling the truth. You had to say you had a scar so you couldn’t shave.

John Steinbeck, Cannery Row (via fortunenglory)

We work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing.

John Steinbeck, from “The Art of Fiction, No. 45,” The Paris Review (Fall 1969, No. 48)

(Source: theparisreview)


“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)

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)

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