Sunday, September 22, 2013

Satirical Steinbeck

Having traveled to France in the early 1950s, Steinbeck wrote The Short Reign of Pippin IV in 1957, which is a satirical tale of a chaotic French government at the time of the French Revolution.  France finds itself in need of a king, and the unsuspecting Pippin Heristal, based on his lineage, is recruited for the task.  While Pippin would rather be left alone to his hobby, astronomy, he must inherit the throne and try to bring peace and prosperity to his nation.  Pippin's wife Marie accepts her queendom with a sense of duty, and his precocious and rather wild daughter Clotilde becomes intrigued with an "egg king" hailing from Petaluma, CA.  As I am not an expert on French history, I'm sure that many of the satire and jokes were somewhat lost on me, and I didn't find the antics that hilarious or over the top.  All in all, this was not my favorite Steinbeck novel by a long shot, but I do admire his versatility, and he still remains one of my favorite authors of all time, with my favorite books being To a God Unknown, East of Eden, and The Grapes of Wrath. 

Some memorable quotes:

"In the salon she told her husband, 'Closed the window over the cheese - a full kilogram of cheese suffocating all night with the window closed.  And do you know what her excuse was?  She was cold.  For her own comfort the cheese must strangle.  You can't trust servants anymore."

"I want my little house, my wife, and my telescope.  Nothing more.  If they had not forced me to be king I would not have been forced to be kingly."

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