Posts Categorized: Uncategorized

All right we are two nations

“All right we are two nations,” reads John Dos Passos’s The Big Money (1936). One of his most anthologized, most quoted passages from a long, full life of letters. It tells succinctly the American Dream’s broken promise, and now it appears in The Wall Street Journal.

Hotel Continental – Barcelona

Sure enough, Hotel Continental in Barcelona has a video advertising its historical significance as a residence for George Orwell during the Spanish Civil War. This hotel was also where Orwell met John Dos Passos for a brief political discussion. “We didn’t talk very long,” wrote Dos Passos in The Theme Is Freedom (1956), “but I… Read more »

Annotated Three Soldiers

It isn’t as handsome or comprehensive as Clemson University Press’s new annotated Manhattan Transfer, but an annotated edition of John Dos Passos’s Three Soldiers does exist in the form of the 1997 Penguin edition with introduction by Dos Passos biographer Townsend Ludington. It has historical notes and translations in the back matter. Three Soldiers has… Read more »

New Annotated Manhattan Transfer

I’ve started digging into Donald Pizer’s new annotated version of Manhattan Transfer and it’s awesome. Here is a very helpful note on page 3 that explains the context of the title: “During this period, [1896 to 1904] rail passengers wishing to cross the Hudson River from New Jersey to Manhattan left the train at the… Read more »

The Campers at Kitty Hawk

This is a spectacularly innovative adaptation of John Dos Passos’s work. Enjoy this video of composer Michael Dellaira’s choral song based on Dos Passos’s biography of the Wright brothers in the USA trilogy, “The Campers at Kitty Hawk.” The Chaffey College Chamber Choir sings, intercut with footage of the college airplane hangar. The marvel of… Read more »

Digital Nomad Initiative at John Dos Passos Cultural Center

The John Dos Passos Cultural Center in my family’s ancestral hometown in Ponta do Sol, Madeira (an autonomous region of Portugal) is serving its community with its new Digital Nomad initiative. On January 19, 2021, Travel + Leisure reported that “Phase one of the project will start on Feb. 1 and last through June 30,… Read more »

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 »