The Moon is Down

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Author: Steinbeck, John (1902-1968)

Year: 1942

Publisher: Viking Press

Place: New York


188 pages. Small octavo (7 1/2" x 5 1/4") bound in original publisher's blue cloth with silver lettering to spine and cover blind stamped in original pictorial jacket. First edition, second state with the improper period removed from page 112.

Pearl Harbor marked a turning point in Steinbeck's fiction. With "The Moon is Down" (1942), Steinbeck creates the story of a close-knit community that is forced to face the brutal realities of Nazi occupation. The book was inspired by European refugees, and it is a bit of Steinbeck's propaganda during the early days of World War II. While some American critics faulted the novel for its sympathetic portrayals of Nazi soldiers, the book was widely popular in Europe. "The Moon is Down" was distributed by the resistance fighters in Europe, and was even banned in Italy. The penalty for reading the book was death. As Dr. Winter and Joseph talk about time, occupations, and machines, Dr. Winter says, "They hurry toward their destiny as though it would not wait. They push the rolling world along with their shoulders." Only one of the soldiers has ever experienced war before, and even Colonel Lanser is under the illusion that he will avoid the inevitable terror of war-time occupation. "Lanser had been in Belgium and France twenty years before," Steinbeck writes, "and he tried not to think what he knew--that war is treachery and hatred, the muddling of incompetent generals, the torture and killings and sickness and tiredness, until at last it is over and nothing has changed except for new weariness and new hatreds." In his fast-paced, dialogue-ridden, play-like style, Steinbeck creates a hopeless situation. The soldiers gradually go mad, or they die mysterious deaths as they go out alone, searching for human companionship and kindness. It becomes obvious to the villagers that resistance is not futile. As their collaborative hatred grows, and as martyrs are made of their most-beloved citizens, the people become a force. Dr. Winter says, "all invaded people want to resist." And Mayor Orden says, "I am a little man and this is a little man, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame." It's much more than about simply living or dying, winning or losing. The book forces the reader to reevaluate conceptions of humanity and justice.


Book plate on front paste down. In a professionally restored, price clipped jacket else very good in a better than very good jacket.

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