On This Day: Steinbeck Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature

On this day John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Let’s reflect on some of the authors best quotes.

Book Culture Classics Favorite Quotes On This Day On Writing

From the famous Of Mice and Men, to his own retelling of the story of Cain and Abel in East of Eden, John Steinbeck has made a tremendous impact on the history of literature. Rightfully so, on this day he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck knew how to write in a way that transcends time, space, and class. There is a reason for his vast popularity, and for his works to be deemed so timeless: his tone is both strong and melodic; he knew how to construct a story so that it deems true past its time.

Early on in his writing career, Steinbeck noted the marginalized and developed an empathetic voice for those deemed “ordinary”. Throughout his forty years of being a writer, he remained vigilant of American life and society. He stated, on his own political viewpoints, that he was “basically, intrinsically and irresistibly a Democrat.” He loved to explore relationships in his writing. In East of Eden, he expanded on the great diversity of California during his time. Chinese Lee in East of Eden, for example.

Steinbeck was a passionate environmentalist, and believed we should share landscapes with other organisms. Through his beliefs and his own brilliant knowledge of concepts, his books were wise and informed. He explored topics that could be considered weighty and hard to execute. Overall, it is no wonder today we are still celebrating him as a writer and his triumphs.

To end, I have collected a few words and excerpts from various novels by Steinbeck, so that we can reflect and further enjoy the wise and powerful words of this notable author.


“I wonder how many people I have looked at all my life and never seen.”

The Winter of Our Discontent

“All great and precious things are lonely.”

East of Eden

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

East of Eden

“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.”

The Grapes of Wrath

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

The Winter of Our Discontent

Image via Publishers Weekly

“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, that’s why.”

Of Mice and Men

“All war is a symptom of a man’s failure as a thinking animal.”

A quote from Steinbeck himself.

“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 idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.” 

East of Eden

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