Read One Man's Initiation: 1917 by John Dos Passos Free Online
Book Title: One Man's Initiation: 1917|
The author of the book: John Dos Passos
Date of issue: January 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9781603120067
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 5.43 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.2
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I hadn't heard of John Dos Passos until I started reading about expatriate writers in 1920s Paris. Like Ernest Hemingway, Dos Passos served as a volunteer ambulance driver in World War I. Whereas Hemingway’s experiences during the war helped develop his macho persona, Dos Passos’ exposure to the brutality of war politicised him. In the late 1920s he went to Russia to study socialism and in 1935 was involved with the US Communist Party-sponsored First Americans Writers Congress.
However, Dos Passos became disenchanted with communism during the Spanish Civil War after Soviet agents killed his friend and translator José Robles Pazos. At that time, Dos Passos was in Spain with Ernest Hemingway supporting the Republican cause, which Robles Pazos also supported. Dos Passos and Hemingway had been close friends, but when Hemingway condoned the killing of Robles Pazos as “necessary in time of war”, it led to a permanent rift in their relationship. The incident also commenced Dos Passos’ gradual move towards political conservatism.
This was Dos Passos’ first novel, published in 1920. Clearly based on Dos Passos’ wartime experiences, it follows two young American volunteer ambulance drivers in the battlefields of France. It lacks a linear narrative and instead consists of a number of loosely connected sketches describing different aspects of the experience of war, from the horror of the trenches to the quiet beauty of the countryside to the desperate dissipation of soldiers on leave in Paris. It includes a discussion of philosophy, politics, religion and provides insight into the thoughts and attitudes of a generation forever changed by war.
Dos Passos’ prose moved me to tears on a number of occasions and affected me more deeply than did A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway's novel based on his wartime experiences on the Italian front. The audiobook edition I listened to was very well narrated by Jeff Woodman, who did an excellent job with the various accents required by the narrative. While this short novel may be a minor work in the history of 20th century literature, it’s nevertheless effective in conveying the horror of war. It’s also a must-read for anyone with an interest in the literature of the Lost Generation.
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Read information about the authorJohn Roderigo Dos Passos was an American novelist and artist.
He received a first-class education at The Choate School, in Connecticut, in 1907, under the name John Roderigo Madison. Later, he traveled with his tutor on a tour through France, England, Italy, Greece and the Middle East to study classical art, architecture and literature.
In 1912 he attended Harvard University and, after graduating in 1916, he traveled to Spain to continue his studies. In 1917 he volunteered for the S.S.U. 60 of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps, along with E.E. Cummings and Robert Hillyer.
By the late summer of 1918, he had completed a draft of his first novel and, at the same time, he had to report for duty in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, in Pennsylvania.
When the war was over, he stayed in Paris, where the U.S. Army Overseas Education Commission allowed him to study anthropology at the Sorbonne.
Considered one of the Lost Generation writers, Dos Passos published his first novel in 1920, titled One Man's Initiation: 1917, followed by an antiwar story, Three Soldiers, which brought him considerable recognition. His 1925 novel about life in New York City, titled Manhattan Transfer was a success.
In 1937 he returned to Spain with Hemingway, but the views he had on the Communist movement had already begun to change, which sentenced the end of his friendship with Hemingway and Herbert Matthews.
In 1930 he published the first book of the U.S.A. trilogy, considered one of the most important of his works.
Only thirty years later would John Dos Passos be recognized for his significant contribution in the literary field when, in 1967, he was invited to Rome to accept the prestigious Antonio Feltrinelli Prize.
Between 1942 and 1945, Dos Passos worked as a journalist covering World War II and, in 1947, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Tragedy struck when an automobile accident killed his wife, Katharine Smith, and cost him the sight in one eye. He remarried to Elizabeth Hamlyn Holdridge in 1949, with whom he had an only daughter, Lucy Dos Passos, born in 1950.
Over his long and successful carreer, Dos Passos wrote forty-two novels, as well as poems, essays and plays, and created more than four hundred pieces of art.
More detailed information about Dos Passos and his carrer can be found at Wikipedia.
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