John Steinbeck's 1942 novella-play The Moon Is Down is similar in setting, situation, and spirit to The Mountains Wait, a nonfictional account of the April–June 1940 Nazi invasion of Norway, published by the Webb Book Publishing Company of Minnesota a few months after The Moon Is Down and written in the form of a memoir by Steinbeck's contemporary Theodor Broch, the exiled mayor of Narvik, a strategically important coastal community and transportation hub for shipping Swedish iron ore south from Norway to Germany. Broch's prominence as a spokesman for the Norwegian resistance brought him into contact with the same intelligence organization that fostered Steinbeck's war propaganda work in 1941 and 1942, William Donovan's Office of the Coordinator of Information, and Broch's escape from Narvik to the United States was assisted by Roosevelt's minister to Norway, Florence Jaffray Harriman. An early version of Broch's story appeared in Life magazine under Broch's byline in December 1940, and Broch's subsequent outreach included talks on college campuses, media interviews, and meetings with opinion makers in Washington and New York. At least two contemporary reviewers remarked on the similarity between The Mountains Wait and The Moon Is Down, though both faulted Steinbeck for failing to portray the Germans as credibly as Broch did. Scholars have overlooked this intriguing connection, one that raises important questions of influence and sourcing while also reinforcing the accuracy of Steinbeck's version of events. The present essay examines context and texts to suggest that further research is needed before drawing a definitive conclusion about Narvik's Mayor Broch as the inspiration or source for Steinbeck's Mayor Orden.

You do not currently have access to this content.