Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos
Boston : Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1947. Reprint. Hardcover. 433 pages ; 21 cm. Price-clipped dust jacket with lots of rips and tears along jacket's edges and side. Old corner book store label at front free endpaper. Pages are age toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
By John Dos Bassos
First published in 192.1, Three Soldiers was one of the first novels of stature and significance to result from the first World War: it also served to introduce one of the most powerful literary spokesmen of our period between wars. Now in the throes of adjustment after an even greater conflict and with both World Wars under the microscope, Three Soldiers is reissued in a new edition.
The immediate forerunner to the Dos Passos trilogy, U.S.A., Three Soldiers is a sharp, bitter book in which the author debunks the so-called glory of war. Here is a realist telling in miniature the national story of the A.E.F., through his odyssey of three buck privates — Fuselli, the Italian store clerk, Chrisfield, the farm boy, and John Andrews, the sensitive musician who deserts after the Armistice to write a great orchestral poem. It is Andrews's humiliation and agony in war which dominate the book in which the central thesis is the impact of war upon the artistic individual.
John Dos Passos finished his schooling in time to go overseas as an ambulance driver in World War I. He set down the stories of the people he met and his own experiences in Three Soldiers, his first novel. Returning home to America, he settled in New York, which provided the setting for Manhattan Transfer. In the intervals of learning how to write novels, he be-came a roving journalist who examined men and politics in Europe, the Near East, Mexico, and the United States. His major work of the thirties was an analysis of America in the trilogy, U.S.A., which critics, both foreign and domestic, have hailed as a masterpiece of contemporary literature.
During the last ten years, Dos Passos has examined the contemporary political scene in the Spots wood novels, Adventures of a Young Man and Number One; the foundations of the Republic in a series of historical essays, The Ground We Stand On; Americans at home in wartime in State of the Nation, and Americans abroad in wartime in Tour of Duty.
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