John Dos Passos

John Roderigo Dos Passos

  • Also Known As: Jack Madison
  • American


John Dos Passos was a notable American Author. - AsNotedIn


Lineage


Timeline

Y/M/D Description Association Composition Place Locale Food Event
Y/M/D Description Association Composition Place Locale Food Event
1896/01/14 Lucy Madison, mistress of John Dos Passos, gives birth to a son, John Dos Passos. She tells relatives she adopted the infant at a North Shore Chicago hotel from a wretched unwed mother without visible means of support.
1896/02/00 Lucy Madison hires a nanny to help with her at 1201 19th Street NW, Washington, with a new born son, John, who she calls Jack. Home Dupont Circle Historic District Washington, DC
1910/07/00 John Dos Passos spends summers at the family country home in Sandy Point (c VA Rts 604 and 610). The two-story frame residence dates from the late 19C. Both the Passos' farm and the boyhood place are part of the same tract of land bought by his father. Home Spence's Point Kinsale, VA
1924/00/00 John Dos Passos moves to 36 Bank St, Greenwich Village and begins work on Manhattan Transfer. Home Manhattan Transfer Bank Street New York City
1925/00/00 Manhattan Transfer - published Author Manhattan Transfer
1926/03/00 Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos and Gerald Murphy, take a snow skiing trip in Montafon valley, Austria. Visitor Schruns, AT Vorarlberg
1938/00/00 USA - published Author USA
1949/00/00 John Dos Passos begins living on his Potomac River farm for a portion of every year. Home Spence's Point Kinsale, VA
1970/00/00 Dies

History

John Dos Passos was born on January 14, 1896 in Chicago. He moved around a great deal as a child, attended Choate and then Harvard, from which he was graduated in 1916. Next he studied architecture in Spain for a time, and became involved in the First World War as a "gentleman volunteer for the French ambulance service. After the war, he traveled extensively as a newspaper correspondent and free-lance writer. In Paris, he came to know Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and other literary luminaries of the period.

His first two books, One Man's Initiation (1917) and Three Soldiers (1921), were based upon his wartime experiences, stripping war and military life of the romanticism with which traditionally they had been viewed. The first of his many unusual travelogues, Rosinante to the Road Again, appeared in 1922. It dealt with Spain, which attracted and inspired Dos Passos as it did Hemingway. The publication of Manhattan Transfer in 1925 was the first work in which Dos Passos emerged as a writer of unique force and originality. The book is the story of the plight of the common man in industrial American society, and represents a shift from his earlier emphasis on the more sensitive, artistic personality. Here for the first time Dos Passos employed the stylistic technique, later expanded in his famous USA trilogy, of interwoven impressionistic vignettes rather than the more conventional narrative approach.

The 42nd Parallel, the first of his trilogy, appeared in 1930. The second book, 1919, was published in 1932, and the third, The Big Money, in 1936. Dos Passes' literary career reached a climax in this trilogy. USA chronicles the lives of twelve Americans as they attempt to cope with the problems they face. The books grow successively more pessimistic, picturing a society in decline, crushing human lives in the process of its own corruption. Toward the end, the trilogy also revealed Dos Passes' latent conservative tendencies, with a view of man as weak and vicious, inhibited only by societal restraint. Three devices are employed to enrich the narrative: the "Newsreel" of contemporary events, short but vivid biographies of important figures of the day, and the Camera Eye" a sort of stream of consiousness autobiography of Dos Passos. It was the impact of these techniques, as well as the message conveyed, that prompted Jean-Paul Sartre to say in 1938, "Dos Passos invented only one thing, an art of story-telling. But that is enough.... I regard Dos Passos as the greatest writer of our time."

During the 1920's and 1930's, Dos Passos was heavily involved in radical causes. He helped found the magazine, The Masses; was jailed for picketing the Sacco-Vanzetti trial; organized coal workers; and in 1932 supported the Communist candidate for the Presidency, although he never joined the party himself. His social ardor began to wane after 1934 and during the Spanish American War. Adventures of a Young Man (1939), expressing Dos Passes' own feelings at the end of the decade, is the story of an American radical who becomes disillusioned when his visions for society turn sour.

A second trilogy, District of Columbia (1949), confirmed his stance. It concerns the failure of the New Deal and the catastrophe of World War II. Critics have not treated his later work kindly partially, some feel, because he is considered somewhat of turncoat, but also because the works lack the impassioned vision of such masterpieces as Manhattan Transfer and USA. It was not so much Dos Passos who changed, however, but the world around him. Throughout his life, he was strongly anti-authoritarian, directing this feeling against any established power, no matter what its political hue.

Dos Passos spent the last thirty years of his life traveling and writing, living first in Provincetown, Massachusetts, then in Baltimore and Westmoreland County, Virginia. He died in Baltimore on September 29, 1970. - NRHP

2 Creative Works by John Dos Passos »

Title Type Association Y/M/D Moniker
Title Type Association Y/M/D Moniker
Manhattan Transfer Author Book 1925/00/00
  • Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century
USA Author Book 1938/00/00
  • 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
  • 1100 or so Notable Novels and Novellas

John Dos Passos was born on January 14, 1896 in Chicago. He moved around a great deal as a child, attended Choate and then Harvard, from which he was graduated in 1916. Next he studied architecture in Spain for a time, and became involved in the First World War as a "gentleman volunteer for the French ambulance service. After the war, he traveled extensively as a newspaper correspondent and free-lance writer. In Paris, he came to know Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and other literary luminaries of the period.

His first two books, One Man's Initiation (1917) and Three Soldiers (1921), were based upon his wartime experiences, stripping war and military life of the romanticism with which traditionally they had been viewed. The first of his many unusual travelogues, Rosinante to the Road Again, appeared in 1922. It dealt with Spain, which attracted and inspired Dos Passos as it did Hemingway. The publication of Manhattan Transfer in 1925 was the first work in which Dos Passos emerged as a writer of unique force and originality. The book is the story of the plight of the common man in industrial American society, and represents a shift from his earlier emphasis on the more sensitive, artistic personality. Here for the first time Dos Passos employed the stylistic technique, later expanded in his famous USA trilogy, of interwoven impressionistic vignettes rather than the more conventional narrative approach.

The 42nd Parallel, the first of his trilogy, appeared in 1930. The second book, 1919, was published in 1932, and the third, The Big Money, in 1936. Dos Passes' literary career reached a climax in this trilogy. USA chronicles the lives of twelve Americans as they attempt to cope with the problems they face. The books grow successively more pessimistic, picturing a society in decline, crushing human lives in the process of its own corruption. Toward the end, the trilogy also revealed Dos Passes' latent conservative tendencies, with a view of man as weak and vicious, inhibited only by societal restraint. Three devices are employed to enrich the narrative: the "Newsreel" of contemporary events, short but vivid biographies of important figures of the day, and the Camera Eye" a sort of stream of consiousness autobiography of Dos Passos. It was the impact of these techniques, as well as the message conveyed, that prompted Jean-Paul Sartre to say in 1938, "Dos Passos invented only one thing, an art of story-telling. But that is enough.... I regard Dos Passos as the greatest writer of our time."

During the 1920's and 1930's, Dos Passos was heavily involved in radical causes. He helped found the magazine, The Masses; was jailed for picketing the Sacco-Vanzetti trial; organized coal workers; and in 1932 supported the Communist candidate for the Presidency, although he never joined the party himself. His social ardor began to wane after 1934 and during the Spanish American War. Adventures of a Young Man (1939), expressing Dos Passes' own feelings at the end of the decade, is the story of an American radical who becomes disillusioned when his visions for society turn sour.

A second trilogy, District of Columbia (1949), confirmed his stance. It concerns the failure of the New Deal and the catastrophe of World War II. Critics have not treated his later work kindly partially, some feel, because he is considered somewhat of turncoat, but also because the works lack the impassioned vision of such masterpieces as Manhattan Transfer and USA. It was not so much Dos Passos who changed, however, but the world around him. Throughout his life, he was strongly anti-authoritarian, directing this feeling against any established power, no matter what its political hue.

Dos Passos spent the last thirty years of his life traveling and writing, living first in Provincetown, Massachusetts, then in Baltimore and Westmoreland County, Virginia. He died in Baltimore on September 29, 1970. - NRHP

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