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The Short Reign of Pippin IV

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  1,654 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Steinbeck's only work of political satire turns the French Revolution on its head, as amateur astronomer Pippin Heristal is drafted in to rule the unruly French. Enchanting comedy ensues as Steinbeck creates the most hilarious royal court ever around the brief, bold reign of the corduroy-clad Pippin, his social-climbing wife Maria, his star-struck daughter Clotilde and her ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 18th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1957)
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Best Books of 1957
27th out of 69 books — 27 voters
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Best of John Steinbeck
41st out of 105 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Wayne Barrett
Aug 19, 2016 Wayne Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, humor, 2016

This is Steinbeck's only satirical work and if I may say so, he pulled it off quite nicely. It's a political piece, a subject in which he is knowledgeable, but instead of the darker, dramatic side of the topic that he has always portrayed, John gives us the scenario in a way that we can laugh at. Which, to me, is the only way we can sometimes survive the bullshit.
Nov 09, 2009 jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
in what clearly must have been an enjoyable writing experience for him, the short reign of pippin iv: a fabrication marks steinbeck's only work of political satire. with characters and a plot reminiscent of italo calvino's fiction, this short novel makes a caricature of the french revolution, and, more broadly, of politics in general. while lacking in the moral impetus so prominent in his other works, pippin may well be one of steinbeck's more humorous books.

"i've never understood america," sai
Steinbeck's only work of political satire, and according the Introduction by Robert and Katharine Morsberger, the least known of his novels, "The Short Reign of Pippin IV" is by turns playful and philosophical. While Steinbeck gently chastises human beings for their " distrust good fortune," he cannot conceal his deep and abiding faith in humanity; a quality that is unmistakably Steinbeckian and one that characterizes all of his works.

NB: Nebraska @ UCLA. Go BRUINS!
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
My musings on The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck.

This was a different type of Steinbeck for me, having read both Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row in the last year or two, I got a feel for the general atmosphere of those novels. This political satire has an entirely different feel to it.

One thing I will make note of here is that I am not a politics girl, at all. Politics by turns bore me and enrage me. A Political satire is perfect in that regard for me. However, I can not speak of p
Chris Dietzel
Aug 20, 2015 Chris Dietzel rated it liked it
This is Steinbeck's only satire as well as the only book where he doesn't write about the 'every-man.' The combination doesn't work very well. Steinbeck is at his best when he's writing about people agonizing over their place in the world in a straight forward and sincere way. The satire is not executed as well as other notable authors and you never connect with Pippin the way you connect with all of Steinbeck's other main characters. A must read if you're a huge fan of the author, but a pass fo ...more
Mike Frost
Jan 02, 2010 Mike Frost rated it really liked it
As I've continued to lap up the more obscure works in Steinbeck's catalogue, I've skipped this one more than once at the library. It just didn't look anything like a Steinbeck book, and I didn't want to be disappointed in my favorite author, especially after Burning Bright. Finally, as I was hurriedly packing for my recent work trip, I made a quick trip to the library, and after not finding the first 5 books I wanted, I gave in and went with this one, fully expecting to be disappointed.

I was not
Feb 17, 2009 Octo rated it really liked it
Shelves: dunread
Clever satire on the nature of politics, royalty, marriage, youth, and Franco/American relations. It's amazing that Steinbeck is able to fit so much in this short light-hearted affair. But, hey, that is why I like Steinbeck so much. He just seems to get so much out of simple words and simple sentences.

This little tale is about an ordinary man that reluctantly accepts the throne of King of France. He struggles with what this means and what his powers actually are and how he should use them. Ulti
Buck Ward
Dec 04, 2013 Buck Ward rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Well. That was unexpected. How very unsteinbeckish. His only political satire, the blurb says.

It took me a week or more to read this little novella. I kept putting off beginning to read, and then would fall asleep. only reading ten to twenty pages at a time, until the final third, which went pretty quickly. I didn't recognize the prose as Steinbeck. It was formal, as if written in the previous century, though it seemed to ease a bit as the story progressed, but that might have been my becoming a
Mark Barrett
Sep 04, 2016 Mark Barrett rated it it was amazing
I had to keep checking the name of the author on this one. Having read and loved 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Grapes of Wrath' I could not believe that Steinbeck had this sort of book in him.

High-end political satire with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. It makes you utter his name in the same breath as Wilde and Wodehouse. A real little gem, that works every bit as much today in its mocking of political spheres and foreign policies as it did when written.
Steve Kettmann
A thoroughly enjoyable exercise in Steinbeck trying something different, which I'd call deep satire. If he didn't set the bar so high with his best books, I'd rate this one higher, but it does have a one-chord feel. I recommend it, but not as among the first five books of Steinbeck to read.
John Steinbeck este cunoscut mai degrabă pentru romanele sale ample, serioase, cu tematică socială (Fructele mâniei, Iarna vrajbei noastre), deși, nu o dată, a dovedit că stăpânește foarte bine și tehnica prozei satirice. Scurta domnie a lui Pépin al IV-lea, microroman publicat în 1957, când cariera scriitorului american se afla la zenit, este o astfel de proză. Ironică, necruțătoare cu viața politică, împingând satira până la caricatural, Scurta domnie a lui Pépin al IV-lea poate fi considerată ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 01, 2014 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steinbeck fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
It is remarkable that this dated piece of inconsequential fluff was written by the same man who penned The Grapes of Wrath.
Jan 15, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
Steinbeck's take on French Politics. Oh, those wacky French.
May 28, 2015 Joe rated it it was ok
Disappointing. And I really like Steinbeck.
Jun 16, 2011 Delilah rated it really liked it
It’s no secret I love Steinbeck. I regularly visit Archives in the hope they have a book of his amongst the ample Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Last month I found The Short Reign of Pippin IV. Besides telling a story, the pages had the lovely benefit of each falling out as I read them in turn. Who needs a book mark? I will have to use the binding technique utilised by my mother on her copy of 1984; the ancient art of rubber band binding. An no, I am still not any closer to desiring any so ...more
Jul 29, 2013 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steinbeck
the short reign of pippin iv: a fabrication, 1957, john steinbeck...1028 ratings, 70 reviews, paperback, 131 pages, penguin classics, dedicated:

to my sister esther

w/an introduction by robert morsberger and katharine morsberger, their notes, works consulted list...the morsbergers are a part of that set defined by steinbeck, quoted in their introduction: "...can and do remain in complete ignorance of any reality--a highly desirable state, i am beginning to believe." and that's all i'm going to say
Jan 26, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Steinbeck fans

In this short work of political satire, Steinbeck proved he could write just about anything. I have also been reading a biography of Steinbeck by Jackson J Benson, as I make my way through Steinbeck's novels. There I learned that the author never succeeded in writing a play, so perhaps that format eluded him. He also did not enjoy writing for magazines, but he could do humor. A long visit to France with a contract for a series of magazine articles resulted in this highly entertaining novel.

Dimostenis Yagcioglu
This must be Steinbeck's most "unSteinbeckish" book. In this sense it's an interesting book, though unfortunately not one of his best works. It's certainly a pleasant read, but ultimately an unsuccessful attempt at political satire. Steinbeck satirizes the French politics of the '50s, the monarchy as a form of government, politics in general, and he also tries to take a jab at the way corporations and capitalism work. But Steinbeck's satire is not sharp enough to make its point clear. What is mo ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
Written with the utmost affection for his myriad and fully realized characters, and strikingly funny even in 2014, Pippin's world comes alive under Steinbeck's careful guidance. Though missing his trademark stunning insights into the natural world Steinbeck nonetheless captures the attitudes and satirizes the political and journalistic atmosphere, with political observations that still ring true today.
Feb 18, 2008 Ryan rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 18, 2016 Bryan rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Finally, a Steinbeck book I don't like. Looking at its ratings here, I'm not alone in that opinion. Still, it's an easy read, so if you are trying to read everything this prolific author has written, you won't suffer long by reading about Pippin and his adventures. Steinbeck has his usual insights into human nature, but French politics are just not my thing.
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
The Short Reign of Pippin IV was good. I do wonder how much of it readers would get without a background understanding of politics or political science, cause I know I would not have found some parts as funny before I did my political science degree, but I think most people would still enjoy this one.

Pippin Heristal, distant descendant of Charlemagne, is placed on the resurected French throne after the country’s politicians give up on making a coherent government themselves. Their new king was n
May 26, 2009 Robert rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
Light-hearted political satire is perhaps not what one expects from Steinbeck, but this was a late work and the late works can be characterised as attempting not to be what one expects from Steinbeck...yet the style seems all Steinbeck.

Witty and funny at first, more typically melancholic in the middle the reader is left guessing whether it will end in tragedy or not until very near the end - though my guess was correct.

Throughout there are more or less subtle and amusing observations at they way
Mar 31, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bob by: Jim Heidelberger
I don't get to read too much unread Steinbeck these days, but when I do, I'm never disappointed. Anything but classic Steinbeck, this brilliant little satire on the reintroduction of the French monarchy brought on by the discontent of every social, economic and political group rings true and is filled with witty insights, as when the new king says,"I believe that all men are honest where they are disinterested. I believe that most people are vulnerable where they are interested. I believe that s ...more
Mar 27, 2016 Dianeh rated it really liked it
I picked up this book on sale at my local library having never heard of it. The book jacket sounded interesting and so I read it. It is a humorous story. I think the author must have really enjoyed writing it. It is much different than his other novels but definitely worth reading!
Jul 22, 2007 Greg rated it really liked it
Not your standard Steinbeck. More in the vein of Travels with Charley, at least in the comic tone mixed with mature still-angry-but-accepting-of-foibles socal/political stuff. That sounds boring when I put it in godawful litcrit terms. I'll start again.

This was a fun read, the sort of satire that I'm surprised no one has filmed or staged because it could actually be achieved, unlike East of Eden or Grapes of Wrath or the other Steinbepics that get squished into 2-3 hour adaptations. And it made
Joree Cronk
Jan 11, 2016 Joree Cronk rated it really liked it
One of Steinbeck's most hilarious novels is displayed by an astronomer who is not quit fit and is a little to quirky for life (as well as his family). When the protagonist is named king he doesn't exactly know what to do and creates a reign of mayhem.
Dec 31, 2014 Jack rated it liked it
The Short Reign of Pippin IV a pleasure to read. While quite unlike most of his work, this book is indeed a good one. It is an amusing satire that studies the nature of man when faced with the realities of politics, power and government.
Mohammad reza khorasanizadeh
Apr 29, 2014 Mohammad reza khorasanizadeh rated it really liked it
در فرانسه به اين نتيجه ميرسند كه بايد پادشاه داشته باشند و حكومت جمهوري زياد به درد نميخوره!
براي همين سراغ يكي از نوادگان خانواده هاي اشرافي ميروند تا پادشاهش كنند و ...
جالب بود! مخلوط بودن پادشاهي و مدرنيته نسبي چيزيه كه كمتر ديديمش و تو اين كتاب جالب به تصوير كشيده شدش!
Sharon Zink
Dec 12, 2015 Sharon Zink rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
This is a parody on French politics. French politicians need to set up a new government, and they decide a monarchy is in their best interests. They find a man named Pippin, nephew of one Charles Martel. Well written.
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
More about John Steinbeck...

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“the french are a moral people--judged, that is, by american country club standards.” 2 likes
“why don't you beat him?” 2 likes
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