John Dos Passos
Essays on the Interwar Chronicling of American Culture
“I never could keep the world properly divided into gods and demons for very long,” wrote John Dos Passos, whose predilection toward nuance and tolerance brought him to see himself as a “chronicler”: a writer who might portray political situations and characters but would not deliberately lead the reader to a predetermined conclusion. Privileging the tangible over the ideological, Dos Passos’s writing between the two World Wars reveals the enormous human costs of modern warfare and ensuing political upheavals.
This wide-ranging and engaging collection of essays explores the work of Dos Passos during a time that challenged writers to find new ways to understand and render the unfolding of history. Taking their foci from a variety of disciplines, including fashion, theater, and travel writing, the contributors extend the scholarship on Dos Passos beyond his best-known U.S.A. trilogy. Including scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, the volume takes on such topics as how writers should position their labor in relation to that of blue-collar workers and how Dos Passos’s views of Europe changed from fascination to disillusionment. Examinations of the Modernist’s Adventures of a Young Man, Manhattan Transfer, and “The Republic of Honest Men” increase our understanding of the work of a complicated figure in American literature, set against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technology, growing religious skepticism, and political turmoil in the wake of World War I.
AARON SHAHEEN is the George C. Connor Professor of American Literature at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. His books include Androgynous Democracy: Modern American Literature and the Dual-Sexed Body Politic and Great War Prostheses in American Literature and Culture.
ROSA MARÍA BAUTISTA-CORDERO is a professor of translation and interpretation in the Department of English Philology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She is the author of the most recent Spanish-language annotated translation of Manhattan Transfer.