The Moon Is Down
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Occupied by enemy troops, a small, peaceable town comes face-to-face with evil imposed from the outside—and betrayal born within the close-knit community
In this masterful tale set in Norway during World War II, Steinbeck explores the effects of invasion on both the conquered and the conquerors. As he delves into the emotions of the German commander and the Norwegian traitor, and depicts the spirited patriotism of the Norwegian underground, Steinbeck uncovers profound, often unsettling truths about war—and about human nature.
Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck’s self-described “celebration of the durability of democracy” had an extraordinary impact as Allied propaganda in Nazi-occupied Europe. Despite Axis efforts to suppress it (in Fascist Italy, mere possession of the book was punishable by death), The Moon is Down was secretly translated into French, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, German, Italian and Russian; hundreds of thousands of copies circulated throughout Europe, making it by far the most popular piece of propaganda under the occupation. Few literary works of our time have demonstrated so triumphantly the power of ideas in the face of cold steel and brute force. This edition features an introduction by Donald V. Coers.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Sergeant!” The sergeant, who had been turning over pillows, looking behind pictures, came quickly to Mayor Orden and ran his hands over his pockets. Captain Bentick said, “Excuse him, sir, it’s regulations.” He glanced again at the little book in his hand. “Your Excellency, I think you have firearms here. Two items, I believe?” Mayor Orden said, “Firearms? Guns, you mean, I guess. Yes, I have a shotgun and a sporting-rifle.” He said deprecatingly, “You know, I don’t hunt very much any more. I
resistance movements in their native lands. Over twenty years later Steinbeck recounted in an article entitled “Reflections on a Lunar Eclipse” how the exiles’ information helped him decide what kind of propaganda he would write. The experiences of the victim nations, while they differed in some degree with national psychologies, had many things in common. At the time of invasion there had been confusion; in some of the nations there were secret Nazi parties, there were spies and turncoats. [The
family seat. Wasn’t that it? Going to be a little lord of the valley, weren’t you? Nice, pleasant people, beautiful lawns and deer and little children. Isn’t that the way it was, Tonder?” As Prackle spoke, Tonder’s hand dropped. Then he clasped his temples with his hands and he spoke with emotion. “Be still! Don’t talk like that! These people! These horrible people! These cold people! They never look at you.” He shivered. “They never speak. They answer like dead men. They obey, these horrible
authority in the town.” “But he holds no office.” “He has the confidence of the people.” “And when we shoot him, what then?” “Then we have authority. Then rebellion will be broken. When we have killed the leaders, the rebellion will be broken.” Lanser asked quizzically, “Do you really think so?” “It must be so.” Lanser shook his head slowly and then he called, “Sentry!” The door opened and a soldier appeared in the doorway. “Sergeant,” said Lanser, “I have placed Mayor Orden under arrest,
first run was of five thousand copies. That was followed by a second printing of eight thousand copies in 1961, a third of ten thousand in 1962, and additional printings in 1974, 1976, and 1980—remarkable quantities for a country whose population today is only five million. The illegal Dutch-language version of The Moon Is Down was prepared by Ferdinand Sterneberg, who was a forty-three-year-old actor living in Amsterdam when the Nazis overran his country in May of 1940. Early in 1944 a friend