1919 (The USA Trilogy, Book 2) by John Dos Passos

By John Dos Passos

Foreword by way of E. L. Doctorow.


With 1919, the second one quantity of his U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos keeps his "vigorous and sweeping landscape of twentieth-century America" (Forum), lauded on e-book of the 1st quantity not just for its scope, but in addition for its groundbreaking variety. back, utilising a bunch of experimental units that will encourage a complete new iteration of writers to stick to, Dos Passos captures the numerous textures, flavors, and heritage noises of contemporary existence with a cinematic contact and unprecedented nerve.

1919 opens to discover the USA and the realm at conflict, and Dos Passos's characters, a lot of whom we met within the first quantity, are thrown into the snarl. We stick with the daughter of a Chicago minister, a wide-eyed Texas woman, a tender poet, a thorough Jew, and we glimpse Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Unknown Soldier.

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Additional info for 1919 (The USA Trilogy, Book 2)

Sample text

Caldwell appears ordinary, flawed, and foolish; at the same time, he is attractive, resilient, resourceful, playful, open to experience, and blessed with double vision. The Centaur identifies the fifty-year-old Caldwell with the middle ground of comedy: by nature, he is half man, half beast and both human and divine; the Barth epigraph situates man on “the boundary between heaven and earth”; mythologically, “it was rumored that Zeus thought centaurs a dangerous middle ground” (26); Zimmerman describes Caldwell as “a teacher in the middle of his career” (186); Caldwell loves the cities “of the great Middle Atlantic civilization” (112); at novel’s end, Caldwell estimates his chances of freeing his Buick from a snow bank as “fifty-fifty” (220).

About six of us filled our pockets up with horse chestnuts . ” “. . seven minutes to the hour everybody stood up and stared as if his fly was open . ” “Christ, I’ll never forget . ” “. . this girl in the back of the class said she couldn’t see the decimal point . . 22 | John Updike’s Human Comedy he went to the window and scooped some snow off the sill and made a ball . . hard as hell at the fucking blackboard . ” (95) By their mythologizing of a popular teacher (the horse chestnuts, an allusion to the centaur’s equine nature), the students reveal their affection and respect for him.

Caldwell is flawed in other ways as well. His wife hints at a lack of passion in their marriage: “ ‘If there’s anything I hate,’ my mother said, half to me, half to the ceiling, while my father bent forward and touched her cheek with one of his rare kisses, ‘it’s a man who hates sex’ ” (56). The repeated use of the word “half ” indicates her double vision. Nor is Caldwell above self-pity: when the family learns that he does not have cancer, Cassie observes wryly, “Now he’ll have to think up some new way of getting sympathy” (215).

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