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The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 30 Nov 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141185538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185538
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 355,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey's paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled 'Something That Happened'. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck's compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a "great work" and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family's history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.

Product Description

About the Author

Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. His complete works will be available in Penguin Modern Classics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 31 Oct 2005
Format: Paperback
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a fool, and while he tries to keep order in the town, as the Germans demand, he refuses to use the power of his office to betray the ideals of his people. Soon the locals begin to sabotage everything the Germans can use to prolong the war.
The narrative is dramatic, full of conversation and containing minimal description, which gives it the feeling of a simple morality tale. Steinbeck depicts the German soldiers, at first, as almost bumbling--organized, to be sure, but basically human, showing footsoldiers getting homesick, seeking understanding of the orders they must fulfill, complaining about the weather, and wondering if their mail will arrive on time. Gradually, as Berlin exerts more and more pressure to take out the coal, the German occupiers must impose more drastic measures. Local resistance becomes more violent in response: soldiers disappear and are found dead in snowbanks, small explosions blow up rail lines, and the miners have "accidents" which prevent the coal from being removed. Even the arrest of Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter cannot force the citizens to give in to tyranny.
Though the novel was published in 1942 expressly for "propaganda" in Europe's occupied countries (where it was quickly translated and disseminated secretly), it is a good story which transcends its original purpose and, as a result, it continues to find an audience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 16 Nov 2004
Format: Paperback
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a fool, and while he tries to keep order in the town, as the Germans demand, he refuses to use the power of his office to betray the ideals of his people. Soon the locals begin to sabotage everything the Germans can use to prolong the war.
The narrative is dramatic, full of conversation and containing minimal description, which gives it the feeling of a simple morality tale. Steinbeck depicts the German soldiers, at first, as almost bumbling--organized, to be sure, but basically human, showing footsoldiers getting homesick, seeking understanding of the orders they must fulfill, complaining about the weather, and wondering if their mail will arrive on time. Gradually, as Berlin exerts more and more pressure to take out the coal, the German occupiers must impose more drastic measures. Local resistance becomes more violent in response: soldiers disappear and are found dead in snowbanks, small explosions blow up rail lines, and the miners have "accidents" which prevent the coal from being removed. Even the arrest of Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter cannot force the citizens to give in to tyranny.
Though the novel was published in 1942 expressly for "propaganda" in Europe's occupied countries (where it was quickly translated and disseminated secretly), it is a good story which transcends its original purpose and, as a result, it continues to find an audience.
Read more ›
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brett Mcclelland on 28 April 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a story of the German occupation of a Norwegian town during WW II,a town important for its coal mines. The German troops don't want to bethere, and the locals don't want them there. The psychologicalinteraction between occupier and occupied is fascinating, and it's clearthat the Germans, treated sympathetically by Steibeck, are the realprisoners. They yearn for their homes, and are deeply stressed by beingstationed in a strange land. Their commander, Col. Lanser, is determinedto avoid the senseless brutality he alone witnessed in the Great War. Butthe free-thinking Norwegians resist, and the Germans, with only a hammerin their toolbox, are forced to hit the nail with ferocity, thus sealingtheir own fate.
It is so tempting to substitute Iraq for Norway, and Oil for Coal, andeven the Iraqi Governing Council for the Norwegian Quislings. To do sogives an insight into the extreme stresses that US and British soldiersmust face daily in their imprisonment in Iraq, and why the level ofviolence seems to be escalating so steadily on both sides.
This book was distributed to resistance fighters throughout Europe, andwas banned in Italy where the penalty for reading it was death. I expectthe present-day occupiers would not be best pleased to see this booktranslated into Arabic and parachuted into Baghdad.
A book as relevant today as it was 60 years ago. Not recommended,however, if you have loved ones serving over there...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite being written specifically as wartime propaganda `The Moon is Down' is still a credible Steinbeck novel in it's own right. Set in a northern European town this looks at how the resistance grows up against the invaders and how they react to it. The town and countries are never specified, but it is normally agreed to be Norway and Germany, especially as this was written to bolster morale during WW2. This is a short novel, but typically for Steinbeck, it is perfectly crafted. His descriptions take you immediately to the scene and you feel the rebellion and disgust of the townsfolk and the despair and weariness of the invaders. This is a very subtle piece of propaganda and this is in no way brash or overtly anti German. Instead you see the human aspect of both sides in the conflict and how the enemy begin to fray around the edges in the face of the towns cold resistance. This redeeming quality of humanness is the soldiers strength and also their weakness and makes this a potent piece of propaganda. You see how the soldiers are human, just as much as the next man and if they seem machinelike and unbeatable in public it pays to be aware they are fraught and plagued with doubts in private. This must have been powerful to realise for those in occupied Europe. Ownership of this book was punishable by death in Italy during the war and it's nuanced and masterful story telling shows you exactly why this was so. This may not be as great as some other Steinbeck novels, but this is still a wonderful story, written with all of Steinbecks verve and skill and in hindsight is a great example of wartime propaganda at it's very best. This also has an informative introduction to add to your understanding and appreciation of the story.

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