U.S.A. trilogy

The U.S.A. trilogy is a major work of American writer John Dos Passos, comprising the novels The 42nd Parallel (1930); 1919, (1932); and The Big Money (1936). The three books were first published together in a single volume titled U.S.A. by Harcourt Bracein January 1938. Dos Passos had added a prologue with the title “U.S.A.” to The Modern Library edition of The 42nd Parallelpublished the previous November, and the same plates were used by Harcourt Brace for the trilogy.[1]:1254 Houghton Mifflin issued two boxed three-volume sets in 1946 with color endpapers and illustrations by Reginald Marsh.[1]:1256 The first illustrated edition was limited to 365 copies, 350 signed by both Dos Passos and Marsh,[2] in a deluxe binding with leather labels and beveled boards.[3]The binding for the larger 1946 trade issue was tan buckram with red spine lettering and the trilogy designation “U.S.A.” printed in red over a blue rectangle on both the spine and front cover.[4] This illustrated edition was reprinted in various bindings[3] until the Library of America edition appeared in 1996, 100 years after Dos Passos’ birth.[4]

The trilogy employs an experimental technique, incorporating four narrative modes: fictional narratives telling the life stories of twelve characters; collages of newspaper clippings and song lyrics labeled “Newsreel”; individually labeled short biographies of public figures of the time such as Woodrow Wilson and Henry Ford and fragments of autobiographical stream of consciousness writing labeled “Camera Eye”. The trilogy covers the historical development of American society during the first three decades of the 20th century.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked U.S.A. 23rd on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

About arnulfo

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