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Author Topic: The Moon is Down: An American Classic Takes on New Meaning
Babbler # 2878

posted 26 August 2003 02:15 AM      Profile for majorvictory     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Quite by accident, I recently discovered this year's most relevant summer reading: John Steinbeck's short novel The Moon is Down. Written as a propaganda piece at the height of World War II, the story describes the invasion of a small town by a powerful military, and the slow but steady rise of violent resistance by the local townspeople. The parallels between Steinbeck's propaganda piece and the ongoing Iraq war are striking.

Steinbeck wanted to write a piece that would muster a sense of determination and hope for the allies, even as the Nazis continued to press into Europe. But, being the literary master that he was, he also wanted to touch on universal themes beyond the specifics of World War II. As a result, the setting and national identities are anonymous, and the book reads as a sort of primer on the psychological effects of invasion on both victims and perpetrators. This generality makes it even easier to read against the situation in Iraq.

Two things struck me as particularly relevant. First, the motivation of the invading military was the extraction of coal from local coalmines--pure and simple. In their meetings with the local conquered leaders, the invaders were quite straightforward: they explained that they had come because they needed coal, and they would use all means necessary to get it.

The second and more important point that struck me is that in his aim to show the perseverance of the human spirit against tyranny, Steinbeck seemed to advocate what we would now call terrorism. Towards the end of the novel, the conquered locals began to organize resistance. They asked their allies for weapons, and what they received was hundreds of small packages of dynamite dropped from allied airplanes. Soon the local townspeople were planting explosives on the train tracks from the coalmines, sabotaging the invaders' efforts to extract their resources. In the final scene, as the explosions increase in frequency, the town doctor remarks wryly that "the flies have conquered the flypaper."

From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 1675

posted 26 August 2003 11:24 AM      Profile for redshift     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
somebody tell ashcroft we've got another one for the bonfire.
From: cranbrook,bc | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 26 August 2003 11:49 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fascinating. I'd never heard of that novel before, but Steinbeck is a wonderful read, and this sounds like a gem.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2170

posted 26 August 2003 01:35 PM      Profile for swirrlygrrl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fictional account of the German invasion of Norway, was it not? Steinbeck is always a great read - that's one of the wonderful things about authors that deal with grand themes and essential humanity, they're always relevant. I got that one a few years back, and would highly recommend it (as I would most of his work, I freely admit - once you're done the Moon is Down, move onto In Dubious Battle, about a strike among migrant farm workers). The issue of collaboration is interestingly dealt with.
From: the bushes outside your house | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged

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