Posts By: John

What did New York City look like in 1911?

An extraordinary piece of film modernization–check out this footage of New York City in 1911, originally shot by a Swedish film crew. It’s been adjusted in various ways to give a modern feel. Beyond the general historical value, it provides a deep sensory experience of the time period covered by John Dos Passos’s Manhattan Transfer… Read more »

JDP Reference in John Lewis Tribute

Major Dos Passos allusion in CBS journalist John Dickerson’s recent tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis. Wow. The quote is from Dos Passos’s The Ground We Stand On (1941). Here an excerpt from Dickerson’s article including the allusion: “The political book in that backpack starts with a quote from the writer John Dos Passos:… Read more »

Centennial of One Man’s Initiation

On the 100th anniversary of the publication of John Dos Passos’s first published novel, One Man’s Initiation, scholar par excellence Lisa Nanney writes about the novel’s significance at the Liverpool University Press blog. Included in the blog post is a rare pastel crayon sketch of my grandfather’s. It’s eerie and evocative.

Mention in The Times Literary Supplement

The Times Literary Supplement: John Dos Passos died in 1970, the last survivor of the so-called Lost Generation. As it happens, his first novel, One Man’s Initiation: 1917, was published in 1920, offering a handy coincidence to anyone thinking of reviving his reputation. Dos Passos was also a painter. Here we show a detail from… Read more »

Revisiting One Man’s Initiation: 1917

I’ve revisited my grandfather’s very first novel, One Man’s Initiation: 1917, as I prepare to see the new film 1917, directed by Sam Mendes. Dos Passos was a novice when he wrote it, but not a fool. He excelled at romantic vignettes: “in the last topaz-clear rays of the sun, the foliage of the Jardin… Read more »

Dos Passos in The New Yorker

What a splendid way to end the year! Yesterday, The New Yorker published a re-appraisal of John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy. These “second reads” of his books are rare indeed and this one makes great points about JDP’s relevance today. “The line for which Dos Passos is best known comes from his anguished account, in… Read more »

Call for Papers: 2020 John Dos Passos Society Conference

4th Biennial John Dos Passos Society Conference: October 8-10, 2020 Instituto Cervantes, New York City Abstract Submission Deadline: April 30, 2020 Graduate students wishing to be considered for supplemental travel funding must submit a 1500-word draft by June 30, 2020 The John Dos Passos Society invites papers for its Fourth Biennial Conference, to be held… Read more »

Boston ALA

Successful meeting of the John Dos Passos Society last week at the annual conference of the American Literature Association in Boston, MA. Presenters and representatives from Spain, Japan, Sweden, and the United States. Dos Passos led an international, multicultural life, and scholars regularly fly from around the world to seek fellowship in JDP studies. The… Read more »

Apollo 11

Except for Midcentury (1961), my grandfather John Dos Passos had great trouble selling books and earning critical acclaim with his books after the U.S.A trilogy (1938). Yet, contrary to the critical consensus that still damages his legacy, his pen did not suddenly and irrevocably become inert from 1938-1970. Some of his last works were his… Read more »

Portuguese Surnames in America: dos Passos and Pereira

Again, per Miguel Oliveira‘s book on John Dos Passos as immigrant, many Portuguese-American immigrants change their surnames to assimilate into American culture. “dos Passos” became “Dos Passos” (a relatively small change) and, in other families, “Pereira” became “Perry.” Super-famous American singer, Steve Perry, the voice of Journey and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” was born in Hanford,… Read more »

Portuguese-Americans in New England

Traditionally, many Portuguese coming to the United States have settled in New England, in Massachusetts or Maine, along the coast. My grandfather in fact lived many years, happily, in Provincetown, among the seamen and artists. Reading portions of Miguel Oliveira’s wonderful book, From a Man without a Country to an American by Choice: John Dos… Read more »

Happy New Year

To fête the New Year, enjoy this remarkable 1969 interview with John Dos Passos in Argentina, recently reprinted by Los Andes. One of the last press interviews of his life, when he was scrambling across South America to see special places before succumbing to heart disease. The photo is never-before-seen by the Dos Passos family.

Dos Passos and E.E. Cummings

Once again, a sweet recollection from Virginia Spencer Carr’s biography of Dos Passos, paperback, page 547: 1962, Dos Passos reacts to E.E. Cummings’ death. “I can hardly believe it yet. Though I didn’t see him very often, it leaves a great hole in my life. I had grown fonder of him through the years. As… Read more »

Dos and Hem

Quite sure this the last time my grandfather wrote Hemingway. It’s noted in Virginia Spencer Carr’s biography of Dos Passos, which is really worth a close read. “In the spring of 1961 when Dos Passos read that Hemingway had almost walked into the spinning blades of an airplane propeller, he dropped him a note, saying… Read more »

Dos Passos and Steinbeck in Tokyo

“September 1, 1957, Dos Passos boarded a plane with John Steinbeck and John Hersey to fly to Tokyo as America’s official representatives at the twenty-ninth International PEN Congress. The trio–billed as ‘the three Johns: Dos Passos, Steinbeck, and Hersey’–was given a thunderous ovation when introduced, but Dos Passos was the obvious star of the American… Read more »

The Book That Never Was

More intriguing history from the Dos Passos biography written by Virginia Spencer Carr. “Dodd, Mead had proposed another book they wanted Dos Passos to write, but he said that it would take an advance of at least twenty-five thousand dollars for him to research and write it. The book was to be a broad study… Read more »

Dos Passos, Sandburg, Lincoln, Jefferson

Per Virginia Spencer Carr’s biography of John Dos Passos, “Dos Passos sent Carl Sandburg an advance copy of The Head and Heart of Thomas Jefferson, saying: ‘Ever since you rescued Lincoln from the embalmers I’ve had a notion of doing something similar with Jefferson. I haven’t the faintest notion whether I have succeeded or failed,… Read more »

Possible Influence on Bruce Springsteen

From the staff at Ultimate Classic Rock: “I think in the three years between Born to Run and Darkness, he’d [Bruce Springsteen] simply learned a lot. He spent a great deal of time in court, for one thing; he began listening to Hank Williams and old-time, class-conscious country music. He’d seen the films of John… Read more »