During World War II Steinbeck wrote some effective pieces of government propaganda, among them The Moon Is Down (1942), a novel of Norwegians under the Nazis, and he also served as a war correspondent.
His immediate postwar work-Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and The Wayward Bus (1947)-contained the familiar elements of his social criticism but were more relaxed in approach and sentimental in tone.
The Moon is Down is Steinbeck's work of genius. It is the account of invasion of idealist soldiers from the provinces, powered by hostility principles, whose yearning to build their fortune sets in action measures both attention-grabbing and tragic.
His representation of the invaders through showing their positive and negative traits during early-nineteenth-century was remarkable and enlightening. The book stays as a matchless and incomparable creation, one that brilliantly anticipates modern literature.
Steinbeck originally wrote The Moon is Down set in a medium sized American town. Steinbeck submitted for approval to the [office of] the Foreign Information Service. Officials there rejected it because they feared that postulating an American defeat might be demoralizing. intro. p. ix
Steinbeck revised the work and s...
Steinbeck revised the work and set it in an unnamed country in Europe. The Moon is Down became a staple of the underground resistance in many occupied countries in Europe. The Nazi's banned it in the countries they occupied; yet many risked their lives to get it circulated. In Italy, if an individual was found with a copy, it was punishable by death.
This was written as a propaganda piece in 1942 and smuggled into occupied Europe where it was then translated into several languages and produced and distributed under a very real threat of death.
Set in a fictitious country (sort of Norway, kind of like France, etc.) invaded by an unstated but thinly-disguised Germany, The Moon is Down was wildly popular in occupied Europe.
In this short novel, the citizens of this occupied town and their occupiers are portrayed as complex, fully-realized characters rather than as the interchangeable stock heroes or evil-doers of many war novels.
Sitting safely at his typewriter in the U.S., it would have been easy for Steinbeck to portray the Nazis as evil incarnate but instead they have hopes, dreams and fears at least as complex as the good guys. The book does a fine job of detailing the conflicting emotions of both occupiers and occupied.
"The Moon Is Down" was a work of propaganda written by Steinbeck and distributed to Nazi-occupied Europe as moral support for the conquered peoples. Some of the finer works of literature are propaganda pieces. There is nothing inherently wrong with propaganda; what determines its worth (besides its qualities as literature) is the content of its message.
And the message contained in "The Moon Is Down" is that a free people may be physically conquered by brute force for a time, but that their spirits will never be subjugated, and