Announcing: January Brunch - The 42nd Parallel (John Dos Passos)

From: rachel
Sent on: Thursday, December 9, 2010 2:57 PM
When: Sunday, January 16,[masked]:00 PM

"With his U.S.A. trilogy, comprising THE 42nd PARALLEL, 1919, and THE BIG MONEY, John Dos Passos is said by many to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultivating what Edmund Wilson once called their "own little corners," John Dos Passos was taking on the world. Counted as one of the best novels of the twentieth century by the Modern Library and by some of the finest writers working today, U.S.A. is a grand, kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation, buzzing with history and life on every page.

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."


REVIEWS:
"The single greatest novel any of us have written, yes, in this country in the last one hundred years." -- Norman Mailer

About the Author: (from Wikipedia)
"John Roderigo Dos Passos (January 14, 1896 ? September 28, 1970) was an American novelist and artist.

Considered one of the Lost Generation writers, Dos Passos published his first novel in 1920. Titled One Man's Initiation: 1917 it was 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 commercial success and introduced experimental stream-of-consciousness techniques into Dos Passos's method.

At this point a social revolutionary, Dos Passos came to see the United States as two nations, one rich and one poor. He wrote admiringly about the Wobblies and the injustice in the criminal convictions of Sacco and Vanzetti and joined with other notable personalities in the United States and Europe in a failed campaign to overturn their death sentences. In 1928, Dos Passos spent several months in Russia studying their socialist system. He was a leading participator in the April 1935 First Americans Writers Congress sponsored by the communist-leaning League of American Writers, but he eventually balked at the idea of the control that Stalin would have on creative writers in the United States.

In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, he returned to Spain with Hemingway, but his views on the communist movement had already begun to change. Dos Passos broke with Hemingway and Herbert Matthews over their cavalier attitude towards the war and their willingness to lend their names to Stalinist propaganda efforts, including the cover-up of the Soviet responsibility in the murder of Jos? Robles, Dos Passos's friend and translator of his works into Spanish. (In later years, Hemingway would give Dos Passos the derogatory moniker of "the pilot fish" in his memoirs of 1920s Paris, A Moveable Feast.) These ideas coalesced into the USA trilogy (see below), of which the first book appeared in 1930.

Dos Passos attended the 1932 Democratic National Convention and subsequently wrote an article for The New Republic in which he harshly criticized the selection of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the party's nominee. In the mid-1930s he wrote a series of scathing articles about communist political theory, and created an idealistic Communist in The Big Money who is gradually worn down and destroyed by groupthink in the party. As a result of socialism gaining popularity in Europe as a response to Fascism, there was a sharp decline in international sales of his books. His politics, which had always underpinned his work, moved far to the right. (He came to admire Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s.) Recognition for his significant contribution in the literary field would come thirty years later in Europe when, in 1967, he was invited to Rome to accept the prestigious Antonio Feltrinelli Prize for international distinction in literature. Although Dos Passos's partisans have contended that his later work was ignored because of his changing politics, there is a consensus among critics that the quality of his novels drastically declined following U.S.A.

Between 1942 and 1945, Dos Passos worked as a journalist covering World War II. In 1947, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, but tragedy struck when an automobile accident killed his wife of 18 years, Katharine Smith, and cost him the sight in one eye. The couple had no children. He eventually was remarried to Elizabeth Hamlyn Holdridge (1909?1998) in 1949, by whom he had an only daughter, Lucy Hamlin Dos Passos (b. 1950), and he continued to write until his death in Baltimore, Maryland in 1970. He is interred in Yeocomico Churchyard Cemetery in Cople Parish, Westmoreland County, Virginia, not far from where he had made his home.

Over his long and successful career, Dos Passos wrote forty-two novels, as well as poems, essays, and plays, and created more than 400 pieces of art."

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NOTE: I WILL BE EMAILING MEMBERS ASKING YOU TO CONFIRM YOUR "YES" RSVP A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE MEETUP, WITH YOUR REPLY DUE NO LATER THAN 24-36 HOURS BEFORE THE EVENT SO WE CAN GET A PRETTY ACCURATE HEADCOUNT. PLEASE REMEMBER TO CHANGE A "YES" RSVP TO A "NO" IF YOUR PLANS CHANGE, SO MEMBERS ON THE WAITING LIST HAVE A CHANCE TO READ THE BOOK. AND REMEMBER TO SEE THE "ABOUT US" PAGE FOR THE NO-SHOW POLICY, IT'S STRICTLY ENFORCED. THANKS!

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