Dos Passos: Novels 1920-1925: One Man's Initiation: 1917, Three Soldiers, Manhattan Transfer (The Library of America)
Before he began the U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos prefigured his groundbreaking epic through three novels that provide a fascinating glimpse into his stunning achievement as an avant-garde prose stylist while they incisively chronicle early twentieth century Europe and America. Manhattan Transfer (1925), a kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City, is universally acknowledged as a modernist masterpiece. This lyrical, exuberantly experimental novel orchestrates the rising and falling fortunes of more than a dozen characters: Wall Street speculators, theatrical celebrities, impoverished immigrants, bootleggers, and anarchist rebels move through a maze of tenements and skyscrapers. The impressionistic One Man's Initiation: 1917 (1920) draws upon Dos Passos' experiences driving ambulances in France to portray the fear, uncertainty, and camaraderie of war. This Library of America edition includes passages censored by the book's original publisher. Three Soldiers (1921), here with the author's own introduction, delves deeply into the spiritual toll of war, dramatizing American servicemen fighting in battle, struggling against dehumanizing military regimentation, and experiencing the chaotic pleasures of Paris.
Along with its companion volumes Travel Books and Other Writings (see opposite page) and U.S.A. (Library of America, 1996), Novels 1920-1925 enriches our understanding of Dos Passos as a writer, thinker, and witness to history.
WWI: New York to Paris
By nto62 - January 26, 2007
In this Library of America edition, there are three Dos Passos novels of varying length and subject matter. The first, One Man's Initiation: 1917, is a brief, semi-autobiographical account of the author's tour of duty in the ambulance corps of WWI. One thing holds true for all Dos Passos novels and this is his devotion to linear narrative at the expense of plot development. Dos Passos writes phenomenally well, his imagery exquisite, but one may often wonder to what point it is directed. In longer novels, character formation may be such that the lack of plot is less evident, but One Man's Intiation isn't long enough to create a diversion. Instead, it appears an arbitrary stream of events with little or no objective.
Three Soldiers, the next offering, is an extended example of the first. Again, it takes place during WWI and recounts the US Army experiences of, to no surprise, three soldiers. Here, once more, is a linear narrative devoid of plot, but Dos Passos'... read more
Dos Passos-One Man's Initiation, 1919, etc.
By Marjorie Cohen-johnson - February 15, 2013
One Man's Initiation, etc. ditto my remarks on "three soldiers" . dos passos has the truth in hand...it has not changed.
Best War Novel
By A Customer - October 10, 2003
Final DraftThree Soldiers: Best War Novel"How soons it take a feller to git out o'this camp", This quote in John Dos Passos Three Soldiers is typical for the soldiers for the soldiers of that time because, most of the men couldn't wait to charge into battle on the other side of the Atlantic. The authors main goal in the Three Soldiers is to show you what a soldier really goes through. John Dos Passos captures you in this novel how he shows you a soldier's life on the base and off. Also the different characteristics of the three soldiers, each one with a different back ground and each one going through the same struggles the brings to them. Even down to the languages the character uses told us the lifestyles for every day soldier.Three Soldiers is about 3 men trapped in the world of war, Fuselli, Andrews, and Chrisfield. Each soldier took their own direction into the war. Each Soldier has their own purposes in the war whether it was to become a colonel or to be a war hero... read more
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