“A Depression-era novel about American tumult has—perhaps unsurprisingly—aged quite well.”—The New Yorker
In 1919, the second volume of his U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos continues his “vigorous and sweeping panorama of twentieth-century America” (Forum).
Employing a host of experimental devices that would inspire a whole new generation of writers to…
Why read it?
2 authors picked 1919 as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
I first read 1919 by Dos Passos when I was a teenager in the Navy. Having a yen for history since the age of eight, I was transported to an era where hopes and dreams have shattered or vanished. The author created the gritty and tawdry ambiance of characters as far out of their depth as was the reader.
We meet many limned characters with engaging flaws and hopes. The point-of-view shifts constantly and the narrative is spaced with advertising jingles from period radio programs and magazines to promote visualization.
The USA trilogy never left me. After pursuing art…
Dos Passos’ USA trilogy was a project of the 1930s with 1919 at its center. In its time, the trilogy was a literary precursor of multimedia as we know it today, a mix of fictional narrative and non-fiction documentary. For me at college age, it was a revelatory journey into the human layers between the 20th-century events of the larger world that I would be entering in search of who I was and would be. Centered on World War I, an industrializing America, and an exotic Paris, it would give me my first effective exposure to the places in which…
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