John Dos Passos - book author
John Roderigo Dos Passos was an American novelist and artist.
He received a first-class education at The Choate School, in Connecticut, in 1907, under the name John Roderigo Madison. Later, he traveled with his tutor on a tour through France, England, Italy, Greece and the Middle East to study classical art, architecture and literature.
In 1912 he attended Harvard University and, after graduating in 1916, he traveled to Spain to continue his studies. In 1917 he volunteered for the S.S.U. 60 of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps, along with E.E. Cummings and Robert Hillyer.
By the late summer of 1918, he had completed a draft of his first novel and, at the same time, he had to report for duty in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, in Pennsylvania.
When the war was over, he stayed in Paris, where the U.S. Army Overseas Education Commission allowed him to study anthropology at the Sorbonne.
Considered one of the Lost Generation writers, Dos Passos published his first novel in 1920, titled One Man's Initiation: 1917, followed by an antiwar story, Three Soldiers, which brought him considerable recognition. His 1925 novel about life in New York City, titled Manhattan Transfer was a success.
In 1937 he returned to Spain with Hemingway, but the views he had on the Communist movement had already begun to change, which sentenced the end of his friendship with Hemingway and Herbert Matthews.
In 1930 he published the first book of the U.S.A. trilogy, considered one of the most important of his works.
Only thirty years later would John Dos Passos be recognized for his significant contribution in the literary field when, in 1967, he was invited to Rome to accept the prestigious Antonio Feltrinelli Prize.
Between 1942 and 1945, Dos Passos worked as a journalist covering World War II and, in 1947, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Tragedy struck when an automobile accident killed his wife, Katharine Smith, and cost him the sight in one eye. He remarried to Elizabeth Hamlyn Holdridge in 1949, with whom he had an only daughter, Lucy Dos Passos, born in 1950.
Over his long and successful carreer, Dos Passos wrote forty-two novels, as well as poems, essays and plays, and created more than four hundred pieces of art.
More detailed information about Dos Passos and his carrer can be found at Wikipedia.
John Dos Passos is the author of books: The 42nd Parallel (U.S.A., #1), U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money, Manhattan Transfer, 1919 (U.S.A., #2), The Big Money (U.S.A., #3), Three Soldiers, One Man's Initiation: 1917, Mr. Wilson's War: From the Assassination of McKinley to the Defeat of the League of Nations, The Best Times: An Informal Memoir, Novels, 1920-1925: One Man's Initiation: 1917 / Three Soldiers / Manhattan Transfer
The trilogy opens with THE 42nd PARALLEL, where we find a young country at the dawn of the twentieth century. Slowly, in stories artfully spliced together, the lives and fortunes of five characters unfold. Mac, Janey, Eleanor, Ward, and Charley are caught on the storm track of this parallel and blown New Yorkward. As their lives cross and double back again, the likes of Eugene Debs, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie make cameo appearances.
A startling range of experimental devices captures the textures and background noises of 20th-century life: "Newsreels" with blaring headlines; autobiographical "Camera Eye" sections with poetic stream-of-consciousness; "biographies" evoking emblematic historical figures like J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, John Reed, Frank Lloyd Wright, Thorstein Veblen, and the Unknown Soldier. Holding everything together is sheer storytelling power, tracing dozens of characters from the Spanish-American War to the onset of the Depression.
The U.S.A. trilogy is filled with American speech: labor radicals and advertising executives, sailors and stenographers, interior decorators and movie stars. Their crisscrossing destinies take in wars and revolutions, desperate love affairs and harrowing family crises, corrupt public triumphs and private catastrophes, in settings that include the trenches of World War I, insurgent Mexico, Hollywood studios in the silent era, Wall Street boardrooms, and the tumultuous streets of Boston just before the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti.
More than seventy-five years after its first publication, Manhattan Transfer still stands as "a novel of the very first importance" (Sinclair Lewis). It is a masterpiece of modern fiction and a lasting tribute to the dual-edged nature of the American dream.
1919 opens to find America and the world at war, and Dos Passos's characters, many of whom we met in the first volume, are thrown into the snarl. We follow the daughter of a Chicago minister, a wide-eyed Texas girl, a young poet, a radical Jew, and we glimpse Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Unknown Soldier.
Ultimately, whether the novels are read together or separately, they paint a sweeping portrait of collective America and showcase the brilliance and bravery of one of its most enduring and admired writers.
Along with its companion volumes "Travel Books and Other Writings" (see opposite page) and U.S.A. (Library of America, 1996), "Novels 1920-1925" enriches our understanding of Dos Passos as a writer, thinker, and witness to history.