Book report #17* (2017)

The Moon is Down, by John Steinbeck. Pub 1942

This short novel was written specifically to be a piece of insurgent propaganda. As the US was entering WWII, Steinbeck became one of many artists with a patriotic and anti-fascist bent who wanted to use their skills for the cause. Originally intended to take place in an American town, Steinbeck was encouraged to relocate it to Northern Europe, both to avoid appearing self-defeatist and to shore up the morale of those locales already under the Nazi heel. It worked well, becoming a well distributed subversive text, sales of which supported various resistance and underground causes throughout occupied Europe.

The writing in the version I read was pretty ordinary, even grammatically incorrect in places, and I suspect that a canonical version is hard to come by given all the translations from and then back to English (though I wasn’t able to find any info to support this theory).

The story is inspirational, and I can see how it would have heartened and emboldened the citizens of Norway, Denmark, and France (the main target audiences). Criticism of the book is mostly about the human dimensions given to the invaders, but think this actually adds to strength of it, as those on the ground – living with the Germans for many months or years – would have seen seen and felt the human flaws of the individual soldiers, while still nurturing an ongoing defiance as a people.

7. A book written by a male author

9. A book that is a film

13. A book set somewhere you’ve never been (assuming the setting is Norway)

19. A book you can finish in a day

21. A book translated from another language (see comment above)

*I’ve determined that I cannot meet my overall list goal without dropping one of the “books I’ve already read” from the list, so sadly A Prayer for Owen Meany will no longer count in my list for the year.

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