The Great Days, 1958

In this semi-autobiographical novel, American Roland Lancaster has a doomed affair with a younger woman, Elsa, in Cuba during World War II. The love story, in its happiest moments, parallels the idyllic life the author had with his first wife Katy. The Great Days also plots America’s rise to global prominence during World War II and its perceived misuse of that power in brokering the peace.

In notes on the novel, Dos Passos describes “Our problem [is] to achieve accommodation between the power we now possess, our reluctance to use it positively, the realistic necessity for such use, and our national ideals.”

Writer James T. Farrell calls The Great Days “ingeniously constructed,” a work composed “with great ease.”

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