Friday, December 19, 2014

Steinbeck's "The Moon Is Down"

Somehow, I hadn't heard about this book until recently. An excellent, easy read; provocative on war as empire; rough on idealists, especially with respect to war; powerful on freedom vs. statism-- from both a community and individual perspective; strongly satirical and well-crafted in style.

Favorite quotes: 

-"Doctor Winter was a man so simple that only a profound man would know him as profound...Joseph was elderly and lean and serious, and his life was so complicated that only a profound man would know him to be simple." (14-15)

-"Tonder was a dark romantic with a vision as wide as his experience." (46)

-"These were the men of the staff, each one playing war...Major Hunter thought of war as an arithmetical job to be done so he could get back to his fireplace. Captain Loft as the proper career of a properly brought-up young man; and Lieutenants Prackle and Tonder as a dreamlike thing in which nothing was very real. And their war so far had been play-- fine weapons and fine planning against unarmed, planless enemies...Only Colonel Lanser knew what war really is in the long run." (46-47)

-"On nights like this, the feathered steel spindles came whistling down and roared to splinters." (148)

-“They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.” (175)

-“The people don't like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars.”  (185-186)

-And of course, the idea that “flies conquer the flypaper.” 


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