John Steinbeck

On this date in 1902, Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, Calif. He studied marine biology at Stanford, but did not graduate. His long list of humanistic novels include the 20th century classics Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939), which won a Pulitzer Prize He also wrote To a God Unknown (1933), The Red Pony (1937), East of Eden (1952), and The Winter of Our Discontent (1961). Near the end of his life, he wrote his personal physician, Dr. Kenny Fox: "Now finally, I am not religious so that I have no apprehension of a hereafter, either a hope or reward or a fear of punishment. It is not a matter of belief. It is what I feel to be true from my experience, observation, and simple tissue feeling." Steinbeck was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. (Cited in Who's Who in Hell, edited by Warren Allen Smith.) D. 1968.

“We have usurped many of the powers we once ascribed to God. Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life or death of the whole world—of all living things. The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectibility is at hand. Having taken Godlike power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility and the wisdom we once prayed some deity might have. Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope. So that today, St. John the apostle may well be paraphrased: In the end is the Word, and the Word is Man—and the Word is with Men.”

—John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech, 1962

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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