Literary Quotations
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EAST OF EDEN

by: John Steinbeck


Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.... The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in art, in music, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

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. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for it is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system.

No one who is young is ever going to be old.

Some men are friends with the whole world in their hearts, and there are others that hate themselves and spread their hatred around like butter on hot bread.

War ... a reversal of the rules where a man is permitted to kill all the humans he can.

I guess if a man had go shuck off everything he had, inside and out, he'd manage to hide a few little sins somewhere for his discomfort. They're the last things we'll give up.

So often, men trip by being in a rush. If one were properly to perform a difficult and subtle act, he should first inspect the end to be achieved and then, once he had accepted the end as desirable, he should forget it completely and concentrate solely on the means. By this method he would not be moved by false action by anxiety or hurry or fear. Very few people learn this.

There are techniques of the human mind whereby, in its dark deep, problems are examined, rejected or accepted. Such activities sometimes concern facets a man does not know he had. How often one goes to sleep troubled and full of pain, not knowing what causes the travail, and in the morning a whole new direction and clearness is there, maybe the result of the black reasoning.

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

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.