Published in 1936, In Dubious Battle was Steinbeck's fifth novel and took its title from a phrase borrowed from John Milton's Paradise Lost. This passage records the rebellion of Satan against God and describes the resulting war in heaven: the battle Satan engages in has dubious worth since it will ultimately prove fruitless. The book was Steinbeck's first attempt to address the political radicalism that flourished in California in the early 1930s, a radicalism that culminated in Upton Sinclair's campaign for the office of governor in 1934 as a Democratic candidate supported by the EPIC movement (End Poverty in California), an organization with socialist leanings.
Steinbeck was keenly attuned to the …
Meyer, Michael J.. "In Dubious Battle". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 March 2010
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