Steinbeck, John: The Moon Is Down
(researched by Emily Davis)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

The Viking Press: New York City March 1942 Simultaneously published in Canada by The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited 700 advanced printing 1st editions sold exclusively to booksellers

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

Published in cloth, but advanced printing first editions were paperbacks

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

97 leaves, pp. 11-188 [=177]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?


6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

Dust jacket illustrated by Frank Lieberman (only illustration)

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

Attractive cover art, simple design, easy to read, well printed, large type Set in Bulmer and Caledonia types

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

Heavy, sturdy, high quality paper Slightly yellowed, but has held up well, no tears or bending

11 Description of binding(s)

Glued tightly, still in good shape Paper slightly torn on spine of dust jacket

12 Transcription of title page

THE MOON/IS DOWN/A NOVEL/By John Steinbeck/New York: The Viking Press: MCMXLII

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

The University of Virginia Special Collections at Alderman Library Call number: MSS 6239 - u

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

The moon is down: New York Infantry journal, Washington, Penguin books, 1943: on cover is a fighting forces Penguin special. Advanced printing: 700 copies, only sold to booksellers, Viking Press, 1942. Short Novels: a collection of Steinbeckís short novels with introduction by Joseph Henry Jackson, Viking Press, 1953. The Moon Is Down: Viking Compass edition, copyright renewed by Elaine Steinbeck et al., 1970, in cloth and paper, different cover than first edition and all other subsequent editions, on cover: "By the winner of the Nobel Prize." The Moon Is Down: with Coers. Donald V., Viking Penguin, 1995.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

At least 8 known printing variations of the first edition: Two variants known as the Haddon Craftsmen variants Two variants printed by the Kingsport Press with the previous printing errors corrected An advanced copy printing The original printing with the printer's name left off of the title page Copy with publishers advertisement on first leaf Printed on mass market paper, Viking Penguin, 1982.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Braille Edtion: Philadelphia, Pa: Associated Services for the Blind, 1992. The Grapes of Wrath; The moon is down; Cannery Row; East of Edenn; of mice and men: Peerage Books, US, 1986, 1984, (first pub. by Octopus Books in 1984). The moon is down; the long valley: Collier, New York, 1942, 1960. Short Novels: Heinemann, London, 1954. Armed Forces edition: W. Heinemann ltd., London, 1943. Heinemann Guided Readers: Heinemann ELT, London, 1992. New Windmill Series: Heinemann Educ., London, 1966. Mandarin Classic Collection: Mandarin, UK, 1996. Bantam Books, New York, c1942. The moon is down, a novel: Sundial Press, Garden City NY, 1943. Continental Book Co., Stockholm, 1945. Dramatists Play Service, inc., New York, 1942. Steinbeck's World War II Fiction, "The Moon is Down": Steinbeck's World War II Fiction Ser., ed. Hayashi, Tetsumaro, Steinbeck Society, 1986.

6 Last date in print?

Still in Print

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

Approached the 500,000 mark in 1942

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)


9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

Several book reviews in New York Times: Mr. 6,8
1942 Brief announcement of display of original play manuscript: June 4, 1942

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Reviews in NY Times of play (April 1942), and movie (March 1943)

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

A Play in Two Parts of the moon is down opened at Marin Beck Theater, NYC, April 7, 1942, produced by Oscar Serlin. Movie version of The moon is down opened in US, March 26, 1943 from Twentieth Century Fox, produced by Nunnally Johnson, directed by Irving Pichel: world premiere was held in Toronto, March 14, 1943.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

La luna e tramontata, romanzo: Milano, A. Mondadori
, 1948. La luna se ha puesto: tr. by Pedro Lecuona, Buenos Aires, Editorial sudamericana, 1943. La luna se ha puesto: Mexico?, Informacion, 1944. La luna tramonta: tr. by Giorgio Monicelli, Milano, Gentile, 1945. La lunga vallata; racconti: tr. by Eugenio Giovannetti, Milano, Jandi Sapi, 1944. Luta incerta: tr. by Gustavo Nonnenberg, Paulo, Flama, 1944. Maanen er gaaet ned: Copenhagen?, Frit nordisk forlag, 1944 (Norwegian) Maanen er skjult, en Roman: Danske Studenters Forlag, 1942 (Danish) Maanen er skjult: tr. by Mogens Knudsen, Copenhagen, Gyldendal, 1946. Meness norietejis: tr. by Janis Zanders, Orebro, Parnass, 1949. Mjesec je zasao, 1952 (Croatian) Der mond ging unter, Roman: tr. by Anna Katharina Rehmann-Salten, Zurich, Humanitas Verlag, 1942. The moon is down, n.p., 1942 (text in chinese) Mesiac zapadol: tr. by Andrej Adamec, Matica Slovenska, 1948 (Czech) Nuits Noirs: Paris, Editions de minuit, 1944.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

Moon is down; novel; abridged: Readers Digest 40:115-52 June 1942. Moon is down; story in pictures: New York Times M p 6-7 Mr. 29 1942.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas California on February 27, 1902. His father, John Ernst Steinbeck, was the county treasurer, and his mother, Olive Hamilton, was known as a school teacher, though she nev
er actually taught during Steinbeck's childhood. After attending Salinas high school, he went on to Stanford. He took classes sporadically, dropping out for a semester, then returning, only to drop out again, but he did publish work in the school paper.
Finally, after five years of intermittent study in English and marine science, he left the university without a degree. He traveled to New York City and got a job as a reporter,(he was fired because they told him he could not write) and then did a stin
t as a laborer during the construction of Madison Square Gardens. He married Carol Henning in 1930, but they were divorced in 1942, the same year The Moon is Down was published, whereupon he married singer, Gwyndolen Conger and had two children, Thom in
1944 and John IV in 1946. Four years after the birth of his second son, he was divorced from Gwyndolen and married Elaine Scotte, with whom he would spend the rest of his life in New York City. John Steinbeck published his first novel, Cup of Gold, in August of 1929 at the age of 28 with the help of The McIntosh and Otis Literary Agency, his first and only agents. In 1935, he met Pascal Covici, who became his lifelong friend and editor.
John Steinbeck traveled widely, touring Europe, the sea of Cortez, (after which, he wrote, The Sea of Cortez, a scientific/research journal) and Russia as well as driving across the US for a year in a pickup truck with his french poodle, Charley (his no
vel, Travels with Charley, was based on this experience). His travels, combined with his intimate acquaintance with his home state of California gave him a broad range of subject matter for his novels. Aside from his novels, two of which were made into
plays, and a number of which were later turned into movies, he also wrote copious journal pieces, and several nonfiction books. (see supplementary material for a complete listing of John Steinbeck's works) He received numerous awards and honors for his w
orks, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the United States Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. John Steinbeck died in 1968 of arterioschlerosis. After his death, his wife, Elaine collected letters he had written throughout his life in a volume entitled Steinbeck: A Life in Letters. Steinbeck's manuscripts can be found in many different collections across the United States, the most promi
nent of which, is the Steinbeck Research Center at San Jose State University. Several manuscripts are held in the University of Virginia's Special Collections at Alderman.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

"The Moon is Down" received many reviews upon its publication during the war in 1942 due to John Steinbeck's incredible popularity at the time. "The Moon is Down" had many expectations to fulfill being the firs
t Steinbeck novel to follow "Of Mice and Men", one of his greatest works. It is no wonder, then, that a vast majority of the critical reviews find fault with this story even though the general populace loved this novel which portrays the rebellion of a s
mall town occupied by an invading army. For the most part, critics applauded the story line, and enjoyed the novel, however many of them believed it to be a story lacking a little in imagination and depth.
"The ending seems to me false and literary, and the people are not real enough to save the book from being exactly what it is, an idea novel, about abstractions. And this I say with some sorrow, because Steinbeck is still one of the two or three best nov
elists writing in America, and this book under any other name would warrant roses." -Boston Glove p19 Mr 11 '42
"Mr. Steinbeck's tribute is warm and sincere, and the slight fiction built around it is of nice balance and proportion. Whether he gains from the halfhearted anonymity of his narrative is doubtful; his model, presumably, is the Nazi invasion of Norway
and in the circumstances so nameless a rendering of the event gives it a rather hollow character. Worse still, if we may say so, there is too little imagination, too complacent a vision in what seems to be his shock of pride in the resistance of the occ
upied countries of Europe. The sentiment of the tale always rings t4ue, but was it necessary to draw quite so comforting a moral from the oppression and torture of the history, or the European history, of our times?" -Times London p305 Je 20 '42
"Steinbeck has a serious subject and real ability in using it; he destroys the validity of both by introducing elements that throw the story out of key, as his efforts to be whimsical, which confuse the mood of the book and are repeated too often for comf
ort. Nevertheless this is a vivid and dramatic work, much the best thing Steinbeck has done so far, and written with a restraint he seemed incapable of in his earlier books." --Cath World 155:253 My '42
"The theme is important, timely, universal. It is closely bound up with prevailing emotions. It would seem, therefore, to be the stuff out of which a modern fable might emerge. Yet I found the book curiously unmoving despite my own preoccupation with t
he subject. The trouble lies, I think, with the method Mr. Steinbeck has affected - studied understatement, simple, unaccented language, matter of fact tone. Such writing depends for its power on the concentration and maturity of feeling with which it i
s charged. In this case the charge is not sufficient. The form, therefore, seems contrived, the simplicity becomes pretentious, the understatement and matter of fact tone sentimental. The sprawling yet effective eloquence of "The Grapes of Wrath" seems
to me much better suited to Mr. Steinbeck's particular gives." --Nation 154:286 Mr 7 '42
However, for all of these mixed reviews, there were many unqualified, positive reviews of "The Moon is Down."
"So strong, so simple, so true, so dramatic in its values is this story, that its present form is obviously only one of its phases. It is as plainly destined for the stage as was "Of Mice and Men."?This is a novel, a stage play, a motion picture, and a r
adio drama. It is all those things, and merits being all of them." --N Y Times p1 Mr 8 '42
"This is not history; it is prophecy. It is the affirmation of a high faith in humanity, which is the same thing as faith in the ultimate triumph of freedom over force. That faith has not been more beautifully stated than in this novel." --Christian Ce
ntury 59:561 Ap 29 '42
"'The Moon is Down' is a unique reading experience. Steinbeck tells his story with simplicity, force, dignity, and even beauty. I cannot recall another novel of comparable size that has achieved so much of the sense of vital suspense, so strong a feel
ing of reality. Steinbeck's images are strong and closely knit. Except for one or two slips, he comes as close as any author to making himself unobtrusive and leaving you free to lose yourself in the story. Which you do." --Sat R of Lit 25:6 Mr 14
"The best novel yet produced by this war." --New Statesman and Nation 23:408 Je 20 '42
"The book is beautifully written, with restraint, dignity, humor, and calm conviction. The style fits the matter in its Apollonian simplicity and purity. The drama is in the events, and there is no theatricism of language. A masterpiece in little." --
Christian Science Monitor p18 Mr 6 '42

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

John Steinbeck was such a prolific author, that his short novella depicting the war was soon forgotten in light of his many other great novels such as "East of Eden" and "The Winter of our Discontent." Although this book was widely regarded at the tim
e of publication, "The Moon is Down" received but one review other than those found in scholarly journals after 1947, and this one was only an oblique reference found in a review of one of Steinbeck's other novels.
"The Moon" seems more than ever a yet too easy answer to totalitarian occupation, yet it is neatly plotted and satirizes Hitlerian Militarism wittily." --Chicago Sunday Tribune p 4 O 4 '53

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

War, intrigue, love, foreign countries, murder, and rebellion; sound interesting? Well, in 1942, enough people thought so in order to make "The Moon is Down," by John Steinbeck, a number two best seller for the y
ear. Anytime a book about a subject as integral as war is written, people will buy a copy out of morbid curiosity. War novels allow the public a chance to experience the dramas and emotions of war and foreign countries as if they themselves had actually
taken part. Armed with the knowledge obtained from wartime novels, the average person can participate in animated, "informed" discussions with others, thus fulfilling a natural human desire to be involved. In 1942, the war raged on in distant countries
, while at home, wives and families of soldiers tended to the everyday life of the home. Anything, be it a newspaper article, radio broadcast, or a novel about the war, could give them hope and courage for there loved ones overseas. With its quaint port
rayal of a town full of sympathetic characters who quietly rebel against the invading force which has taken the town under siege, "The Moon is Down" was read by millions of people all over the world.
While the moon is down became the number two best selling novel in 1942, many reviewers disliked the book, and few would have dared call it a masterpiece of literature. Despite the negative slant of the reviews, nobody can contest the fact that the moon
Is down was a popular book. Even the critics most ardently opposed to the book were forced to admit that it was an entertaining read. The key elements of a best selling story are there; the mayor who is willing to die for his town, the slightly bumbling
, but in the end, curiously human, invaders, the clever townsfolk who outsmart the enemy, and the intrigue that surrounds them all. By most critics, it was considered merely an interesting tale of a story that hit close to home for many people all over t
he world with loved ones in the war. One reviewer says that, "?so nameless a rendering of [the Nazi invasion] gives the novel a rather hollow character," (Times, Je 20, '42). This sentiment is echoed throughout many of the reviews. The rather simplist
ic style in which Steinbeck wrote the novel is both praised and criticized. Many claim that "less is more" in writing a novel, and believe that Steinbeck has left much of the story up to the imagination of the reader "?he comes as close as any author to
making himself unobtrusive and leaving you free to lose yourself in the story," (Spec, Jl 10, '42). However, others feel that the simplistic nature of the book leads to shallow characters and an ending that resolves all of the problems of the novel too
neatly and easily, "?but was it necessary to draw quite so comforting a moral from the oppression and torture of the history, or the European history, of our times?" (Yale R, spring '42). In other words, John Steinbeck presents his story as more of a fa
ble than as a novel about a subject as serious and grave as war.
Steinbeck's story leaves a lot of the details for the reader to fill in for himself. "His story becomes symbolic of much more than it describes?" (Gunther, NY Herald Tribune Books). For instance, Steinbeck neither gives the town a name, nor the invade
rs a country from which they came. Steinbeck follows Hemingway in his belief that "less is more" in that the reader must actively participate in the story by creating a name for the places of which they read. "The Sun Also Rises" is written in much the
same vein. Though not set in the war itself, " The Sun Also Rises" deals with a man's struggle to overcome his war injury. Just as Hemingway never specifically states where Jake was shot, Steinbeck never names the town; although in both, the reader is
cleverly lead to specific assumptions the author wishes to encourage. Both authors use simple, short sentences and uncomplicated vocabulary, which suit their rather stark topics and allow them to place the focus on their stories, and characters' actions
rather than shroud them in flowery language. "The Moon is Down" is unlike his other novels in style, but it closely resembles his collections of short stories. In many respects, "The Moon is Down" is unfairly criticized because people compare it with h
is other great works such as "Of Mice and Men" and "Grapes of Wrath," while it should be compared with his less well known stories such as "Tortilla Flat" and "Cannery Row." Unsurprisingly, many of the other novels that made the best seller list the year
of 1942 also dealt with the war and its ravages throughout the world.
One of the biggest reasons that this was a popular novel, other than the fact that it is set during the war, is that it was written by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck had just finished "Of Mice and Men" two years earlier, and much of the success of "The Moon i
s Down" can be attributed to its timing. The first of many novels written after Steinbeck had become a renowned writer, "The Moon is Down" was read by many Steinbeck fans merely because of the name on the cover. Had this book been written ten years earl
ier, Steinbeck would not have had as large a following, and thus, this book might never have made the best seller's list. As it was, this short, rather unremarkable novel was widely read and critiqued by many reviewers from the top literary journals.
Steinbeck was rather reclusive at the time "The Moon is Down" was written, although nowhere near to the extent that Salinger was unavailable. He was somewhat of a mysterious figure, living in a large house on a hill, and rarely granting interviews. Stei
nbeck went through a series of divorces, which forced his private life out into the public. This also helped influence the popularity of the book indirectly. Along with reviews of the book in the back sections of newspapers, were front page stories deta
iling his divorces and other aspects of his personal life which gave a new sort of publicity to his novel. Everyone was hungry for stories about John Steinbeck, and the publishers capitalized on this fame. Steinbeck was also a popular war correspondent
during this time, and therefore, a trusted expert on the details of the war. He traveled widely and knew much of foreign countries, which give the novel, although not specifically stated where it was set, a firm base in reality.
With its explosive emergence as a best seller, it is surprising that it remained at the top only a short while, soon forgotten entirely. Its lack of literary merit can in fact be seen in the rapid decline in its notoriety. When asked to list Steinbeck'
s novels, "Grapes of Wrath" and "The Winter of Our Discontent" spring to mind, however, most people today have never even heard of "The Moon is Down." Critical reviews of this novel after 1942 are virtually nonexistent. This novel, popular because of it
s author and because it was a novel of a war which ended happily, written in a time of unrest and uncertainty, was easily forgotten in the subsequent flood of Steinbeck novels that was to come. Steinbeck was a prolific writer, producing, all told, over t
wenty novels, many of which made the best sellers lists. In this plethora of novels, "The Moon is Down," though popular in its time, has been forgotten in favor of other, greater Steinbeck works.
Steinbeck originally wrote this novel with aspirations of making it into a play. Only a month after the novel appeared, the play was first produced in New York at the Marin Beck Theater. The play was more or less received with the same mixed reviews, as
was the book for many of the same reasons. "If Mr. Steinbeck could be charged with writing the mere outline of a novel in his published book, it could be maintained, with greater justification, that he created the mere sketch of a play?the play produces
a confusion alignment of forces, a divided effect, and a somehow incompletely precipitated dramatic experience. In the theatre, Steinbeck's story is consequently ineffectual," (Gassner, My '42). Yet another critic wrote, "?one must respect the drama
tic version for its avoidance of obvious melodrama and pyrotechnics, and for the occasional positive values of understatement, as in the quiet final scene," (Stark Young, My 11, '42). With the appearance of the play so closely linked with the appearance
of the novel itself, the play in effect, had very little impact on the publicity and sales of the novel. The play was a minor one, with very few advertisements and very little critical review. The play, as well as the book, seems to have been completel
y forgotten, as mention of either is hard to come by after 1942.
A year after the first publication of the novel, the movie version of the play came out into theaters. It was first shown to troops overseas in hopes of bolstering morale. The town of quiet rebels is an inspiration to anyone, and to troops marooned in f
oreign countries, it made a difference to see that their fighting was making a difference in peoples' lives. When the movie finally came to the states about a month after it was first previewed by the armies overseas, it had less effect than it did with
the troops. Like the play, few articles can be found about the movie, and the advertising was minimal. The movie itself was well done, though it did not have the luxury of big stars or a big budget. Unfortunately for Steinbeck, this movie also seems t
o have appeared too close to the novel to have had any impact on sales. Novels like "The Robe" by Lloyd C. Douglas, made the best seller's list in two different decades partly because, by the time the movie came out ten years after the book was publishe
d, people had forgotten the original appearance of the book. The movie version of "The Moon is Down" came out only a year after the book came out on the best seller's list, so the rise in sales was minimal.
Overall, this novel was a decent book, written at the right time and by the right author. "The Moon is Down" received much too much criticism because of the name of the author. All of the criticism, however, though negative, did not discourage readers f
rom buying John Steinbeck's novel, in fact, all of the publicity actually increased book sales. As with most books on the best seller's lists, "The Moon is Down" will never be remembered as a literary classic. If remembered at all, it is thought of as
a quaint novel that John Steinbeck wrote in the years between "Of Mice and Men" and "East of Eden." That it was written during the war, about the war, and that John Steinbeck was written in bold print across the cover, put this book on the best sellers
list as the number two best seller in 1942.

Supplemental Material

Novels: Cup of Gold 1929 To a God Unknown 1932 Tortilla Flat 1935 In Dubious Battle 1936 The Red Pony 1937 The Grapes of Wrath 1939 Of Mice and Men 1940 The Moon is Down 1942 Cannery Row 1945 The Wayward Bus 1947 The Pearl 1947 East of Eden 1952 Sweet Thursday 1954 The Winter of our Discontent 1961 Travels with Charley 1962 The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights 1976 Short Story Collections: The Pastures of Heaven 1932 The Long Valley 1938 Plays: Of Mice and Men 1940 The Moon is Down 1942 Burning Bright 1950 Nonfiction: Their Blood is Strong (pamphlet) 1938 The Forgotten Village 1941 Bombs Away 1942 A Russian Journal 1948 Sea of Cortez 1951 The Short Reign of Pippin IV 1957 Once There Was a War 1958 America and Americans 1966 Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters 1969

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