John Dos Passos: Art and Isadora


Plays: 194

This excerpt is from John Dos Passos’s only appearance at the Poetry Center. He begins with some remarks on his development as a writer after World War I, then reads a section on dancer Isadora Duncan from the second volume of his U.S.A. trilogy—The Big Money.

Before Dos Passos took the stage that night, critic Robert Gorham Davis introduced him thusly:

Mr. Dos Passos has carried on in all his writing for nearly 50 years a frustrated, anguished love affair with the United States as a whole. We have to look to Balzac and Zola to find fictional undertakings of similar scope. Dos Passos, moreover, has gone beyond his masters in the form and texture of his work. He is a painter and poet, a dramatist, an impressionist, an expressionist in the color, the imagination, the technical inventiveness of U.S.A., with its cameras-eye, its newsreels, its biographies both fictional and historical. There is a zest for life, a feeling for the changing social moods and moments of an epic, for the discriminabilia of time and space that far transcend anything merely naturalist or sociological.