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From www.johndospassos.com: THE 42ND PARALLEL, 1930 The first volume in what would become Dos Passos’s most famous work, the trilogy U.S.A., The 42nd Parallel introduces grand innovations in the form and content of American literature. The author chronicles the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, as the country angsts for attention on the world stage. Across America, Dos Passos is troubled by how new institutions and movements—such as industrialization, imperialism, and materialism—stifle human freedom. His satire is born of hope for societal advancement through means consistent with the country’s democratic roots, as he perceives them. He uses a fresh, multimedia style that mixes newsreels, song lyrics, biographies of major figures, semi-autobiographical prose poems, and standard narrative. This collage effect, as well as the accompanying social satire, shakes the literary establishment. The New York Times perceives that the work is a “satire on the tremendous haphazardness of life in the expansionist America we all have known, the American which came into birth with the defeat of Jefferson’s dream of an agricultural democracy…It is an America ‘on the make’ that Mr. Dos Passos satirizes, an America filled with people with vague hopes of success—no matter what success.” Everyone is out for a buck before “the whole thing goes belly up.”
James Thomas Farrell (1904—1979) was born in Chicago to a struggling family of second-generation Irish Catholic immigrants. In 1907, his father, James Farrell, a teamster unable to support his growing family, placed young Jim with his maternal grandparents. It was his grandparents’ neighborhood in Chicago’s South Fifties that would provide the background to Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy. Farrell worked his way through the University of Chicago, shedding his Catholic upbringing and absorbing the works of William James, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, while reading widely in American and European literature: Herman Melville, Sherwood Anderson, H. L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, and James Joyce were critical influences on his literary development. It's a story about coming-of-age and sexual awakening in the mean streets of 1910s Chicago. It's the beginning of a trilogy that will follow Studs Lonigan throughout adolescence. And, claims Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, it reveals "his vision of the truth-the truth about people, the truth about writing, the truth about America."
Appointment In Samarra, published in 1934, is the first novel by American writer John O'Hara(1905–1970). It concerns the self-destruction of the fictional character Julian English, a wealthy car dealer who was once a member of the social elite of Gibbsville (O'Hara's fictionalized version of Pottsville, Pennsylvania). The book created controversy due to O'Hara's inclusion of sexual content. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Appointment in Samarra 22nd on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
The Death of the Heart is a 1938 novel by Elizabeth Bowen set in the interwar period. It is about a sixteen-year-old orphan, Portia Quayne, who moves to London to live with her half-brother Thomas and falls in love with Eddie, a friend of her sister-in-law. Bowen called it a 'pre-war' novel, "a novel which reflects the time, the pre-war time with its high tension, its increasing anxieties, and this great stress on individualism. People were so conscious of themselves, and of each other, and of their personal relationships because they thought that everything of that time might soon end.