The Big Money, 1936

In perhaps his sharpest satire, Dos Passos takes aim at the high-rolling charlatans using industrial capitalism to gut his beloved American democracy. Everyone, from paupers to princes, chases “the big money.” Their inevitable crash causes the Great Depression.

Shortly after The Big Money publishes, French writer, philosopher, and future Nobel Laureate Jean-Paul Sartre calls Dos Passos “the greatest writer of our time.” Critic Edmund Wilson calls the novel “a noble performance.” Malcolm Cowley calls it “the best of Dos Passos’[s] novels, the sharpest and swiftest.”

Dos Passos appears on the cover of Time magazine. “To find the equivalent of his nationalism,” the Time profile reads, “one must look abroad, to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, to Balzac’s Comédie Humaine, to James Joyce’s Ulysses.”

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