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The Short Reign of Pippin IV
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The Short Reign of Pippin IV

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  1,283 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Amateur astronomer Pippin Heristal is drafted in to rule the unruly French. His royal court includes his social-climbing wife Maria, his star-struck daughter Clotilde and her Californian beau, Todd.
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Published January 18th 2001 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published 1957)
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East of Eden by John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckCannery Row by John SteinbeckThe Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck's Country
26th out of 55 books — 30 voters
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussDoctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussOn the Road by Jack Kerouac4 by Agatha Christie
Best Books of 1957
27th out of 61 books — 22 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,198)
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jeremy
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
...more
Octo
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...more
Elliott
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 "tendency...to 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*
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...more
Buck Ward
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...more
Mike Frost
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...more
Bob
Mar 05, 2014 Bob rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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...more
Erik Graff
Aug 01, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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.
David
Steinbeck's take on French Politics. Oh, those wacky French.
Delilah
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
wally
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...more
Judy
Jan 26, 2011 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.

The...more
Robert
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.
Ryan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert
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...more
Greg
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...more
Mohammad reza khorasanizadeh
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!
Jason
I figured I'd put at least one critical review on this thing...Steinbeck is one of my all time literary idols, as is Vonnegut. However, if Steinbeck were to try to write an humorous political satire in the vein of Vonnegut, I'd say what the hell!?!?!? This is what the reader is subjected to in The Short Reign of Pippin IV, an attempt by an extremely observant and serious writer of the human condition to make fun of the human condition, except lacking a distinct sense of comic timing or the abili...more
Michael
I've always been a big Steinbeck fan, ever since reading The Grapes of Wrath back in high school. The Short Reign of Pippin IV is quite different from anything else I've read by Steinbeck in many ways: most noticeably of all, it's about French politics and history and not about the Depression-era America that has inspired what I tend to think of as Steinbeck's best work. Pippin is written with the same grace and wit, though, that make Steinbeck so wonderful to read; and his imaginative satire of...more
Davide
Non lo Steinbeck poetico e toccante di "Uomini e Topi", ma comunque una piccola perla simpatica e riflessiva.
Eli Arnold
The Short Reign of Pippin IV is one of Steinbeck's least known books--or so it seems from listing it as one of my favorite books. Hardly anyone has heard of it. It was out of print for a really long time, but now it is back! I remember checking it out from my public library when I was a kid. It was the first book that I stayed up all night to read straight through. Everytime I read it I laugh and laugh. There is post-WWII political satire and a good deal of making fun of the French, English and...more
Allison
I enjoyed every word of this book; "funny and poignant" to steal a phrase. John has a tendency to focus on natural good of people while giving his characters a variety of opinions on the subject. This was a very interesting book.
Myles
I am so pleased to read the overall positive reactions to this book! I read Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath in high school and enjoyed them, especially the latter.
I was able to pick up a first edition of this at the library book sale the summer after I graduated and I loved it. It definitely does not seem like a Steinbeck book at all but he clearly had a good time writing this and it shows. Picking on the French is like shooting fish in a barrel but Steinbeck had a lot of affection for...more
Kate
I enjoyed this book. Steinbeck's style and voice comes through clearly, which I like. He's satirical and funny; he pokes fun at France and the U.S. In my opinion, his characters weren't as well developed in this book as they are in so many of his other great novels. That's usually my favorite part of a Steinbeck book -- unbelievably complex and human characters. Overall, it was a fun, quick read about France reinstating the monarchy to appease everyone, and ultimately to make everyone happy with...more
Matt
Great satire of the impotence of royalty. Steinbeck does a great job at humor. It is subtle, but if you read it slowly (which will still go fast since its 130 pages), you will notice the great jokes and jabs at European nobility.

Pippin is a simple Parisian who loves to look at stars through his telescope. Unfortunately for him, he is a descendant of Charlemagne. All of a sudden every political party in France thinks they will look much better by comparison if there is a king. Poor Pippin is forc...more
Elaine
I found The Short Reign of Pippin IV as amusing as Pratchett - imagine Terry Pratchett writing political comedy in the early half of the 20th century and you wouldn't be far off. This was very refreshing after reading East of Eden, much of which I found very tiresome (bloody unconvincing she-devil Cathy in particular). Why isn't Steinbeck more well-known for this sort of writing? It's a little gem of a book. Makes tremendous fun of both the French and the Americans and the clichés about both of...more
Anne
I read 'Pippin IV' because a professor recommended it to my European politics class as a spot-on parody of mid-century French politics, and I suppose to some extent it is that. It's a good deal zanier than I expected, and topical enough to not age as well as much Steinbeck, in addition to being an outlier in general in the Steinbeck catalogue, but it's a strangely entertaining little romp that doesn't deserve to have been overlooked as completely as it has been.
Margaux
It's been a few months since I've read this, but I remember it distinctly. I don't find political satire funny, so this book wasn't exactly belly-bustin', but it was rather captivating. The plot was by far the strangest I have ever followed. The characters were simplistic, especially compared to some of Steinbeck's other works, but did have some interesting things to say (teehee). As a Steinbeck fan, I really enjoyed this, though it threw me for a loop.
Jeff
I understand why this Steinbeck novel is not that well-known...it's because it's really not that good. Fast and mildly entertaining, but the satire is vague at times, and the main character is too buffoonish to relate to. Didn't hate it, but was glad to be done with it. I picked it up because it was obscure; usually something that is by a popular author and still obscure is that way for a reason...lesson learned.
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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
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Pearl Cannery Row

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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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