The Loyalty of John Dos Passos

Photo credit - Jorge Vicente Rosenvinge Hepworth

Photo credit – Jorge Vicente Rosenvinge Hepworth


The Loyalty of John Dos Passos (For the upcoming John Dos Passos Society Newsletter)

The 2016 2nd biennial John Dos Passos Society conference in Madrid brought me to joyful tears. My first trip to Madrid in 2014 gave me the chance to participate in Sonia Tercero Ramiro’s wonderful documentary on the Robles-Dos Passos story, Robles, Duelo al Sol. The 2016 conference gave me new life lessons on politics, friendship, and loyalty.

My 2014 trip to Madrid gave me a visceral sense of the stakes and consequences of the Spanish Civil War. I went to historic sites and envisioned the layout of the battlefields. I participated in a tertulia with writers and literary experts. I visited Fuentidueña de Tajo, where I gained a sense of my grandfather’s affinity for the Spanish village. I met contemporary Spanish authors who greatly admired my grandfather’s work.

But this was simply prelude to the emotionality of the 2016 conference. Two moments stand out. One was meeting Mario Ortiz-Robles. It was a very satisfying handshake, as it filled a gap in my family history. I knew I had met a lifelong friend. The second moment was hearing the letters between John Dos Passos and Coco Robles. When I heard that my grandfather had offered to adopt Coco, I couldn’t believe my ears. The depth of my grandfather’s loyalty to friends touched my heart. That realization reinforced my dedication to the Dos Passos legacy and raised my expectations for myself and my own conduct in friendship.

I’ll treasure these memories for the rest of my life. One days, perhaps, I’ll share them with my children.

I look forward to more correspondence and friendship with Mario Ortiz-Robles and his family. I know my grandfather would want the Dos Passos-Robles connection to be everlasting. He would want friendship to be a fixed star in the universe—warm, lustrous, and faithful.

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