John Steinbeck

  • Nov. 9th, 2012 at 1:12 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
A great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting—only the deeply personal and familiar.

John Steinbeck

  • Sep. 16th, 2012 at 2:39 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
…Nearly all men are afraid, and they don’t even know what causes their fear—shadows, perplexities, dangers without names or numbers, fear of a faceless death. But if you can bring yourself to face not shadows but real death, then you need never be afraid again, at least not in the same way you were before.

John Steinbeck

  • May. 9th, 2012 at 10:15 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
To be alive at all is to have scars.

(The Winter of our Discontent)

John Steinbeck

  • Nov. 20th, 2011 at 11:28 PM
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For 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. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.

(The Grapes of Wrath)

John Steinbeck

  • Nov. 4th, 2011 at 12:09 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself. (The Winter of our Discontent)

John Steinbeck

  • Jun. 13th, 2011 at 6:38 PM
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Time is the only critic without ambition.

John Steinbeck

  • May. 8th, 2011 at 10:43 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
"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." (East of Eden)

John Steinbeck

  • Feb. 22nd, 2011 at 10:57 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
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

  • Jan. 17th, 2011 at 9:42 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. (East of Eden)

John Steinbeck

  • Dec. 1st, 2010 at 8:50 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is. (East of Eden)

John Steinbeck

  • Nov. 1st, 2010 at 11:49 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
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

  • Oct. 19th, 2010 at 2:34 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
"His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought." (Of Mice and Men)

John Steinbeck

  • Sep. 6th, 2010 at 10:06 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.

John Steinbeck

  • Aug. 16th, 2010 at 11:58 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.

John Steinbeck

  • Jul. 25th, 2010 at 12:22 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
The profession of book-writing makes horse-racing seem like a solid, stable business.
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair.

Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.

The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species.

Humanity has been passing through a gray and desolate time of confusion. My great predecessor, William Faulkner, speaking here, referred to it as a tragedy of universal fear so long sustained that there were no longer problems of the spirit, so that only the human heart in conflict with itself seemed worth writing about. Faulkner, more than most men, was aware of human strength as well as of human weakness. He knew that the understanding and the resolution of fear are a large part of the writer's reason for being.

This is not new. 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. The present universal fear has been the result of a forward surge in our knowledge and manipulation of certain dangerous factors in the physical world.

It is true that other phases of understanding have not yet caught up with this great step, but there is no reason to presume that they cannot or will not draw abreast. Indeed it is a part of the writer's responsibility to make sure that they do. With humanity's long proud history of standing firm against natural enemies, sometimes in the face of almost certain defeat and extinction, we would be cowardly and stupid to leave the field on the eve of our greatest potential victory.

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John Steinbeck

  • May. 24th, 2010 at 2:39 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
"All great and precious things are lonely." (East of Eden)

John Steinbeck

  • May. 23rd, 2010 at 11:55 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
"A man without words is a man without thought."

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