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THE 42nd PARALLEL




U.S.A.

 


A.

 

The 42nd parallel

 

B.

 

Nineteen Nineteen

 

C.

 

The Big Money

 

BY JOHN DOS PASSOS

 

THE MODERN LIBRARY
NEW YORK

 

-i-

 

COPYRIGHT, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937,
BY JOHN DOS PASSOS

 

THE MODERN LIBRARY
IS PUBLISHED BY
RANDOM HOUSE, INC.
BENNETT A. CERF · DONALD S. KLOPFER · ROBERT K. HAAS

 

Manufactured in the United States of America
Printed by Parkway Printing Company Paper by Richard Bauer & Co.
Bound by H. Wolff

 

-ii-

 

JOHN DOS PASSOS
(1896- )

A NOTE ON THE AUTHOR OF
"U.S.A."

 

By far the most ambitious undertaking of John Dos Passos'
career as a writer is the trilogy, U.S.A. The three novels, The
42nd Parallel, Nineteen Nineteen and The Big Money, are
brought together in one volume, thus fulfilling the author's
original intention of making these three panels an integrated lit-
erary pattern of contemporary American life.

 

Born in Chicago, John Dos Passos received his early education
there and was graduated from Harvard University cum laude in
1916. Immediately afterward he served with the Harjes, the
Red Cross and the U.S.A. Ambulance Services during the World
War. His novel, Three Soldiers, issued in 1921 (Modern Li-
brary No. 205), remains today one of the few war books to
survive as living literature. Since its appearance, each new work
of fiction has advanced John Dos Passos' development, and today
he is acknowledgedly one of the world's foremost novelists. As a
participant in the American social struggle, notably as a cham-
pion of Sacco and Vanzetti, Dos Passos' record is quite as distin-
guished as is his achievement in the role of social commentator
and novelist.

 

-iii-

 


U. S. A.

 

The young man walks fast by himself through the
crowd that thins into the night streets; feet are tired
from hours of walking; eyes greedy for warm curve of
faces, answering flicker of eyes, the set of a head, the
lift of a shoulder, the way hands spread and clench;
blood tingles with wants; mind is a beehive of hopes
buzzing and stinging; muscles ache for the knowledge
of jobs, for the roadmender's pick and shovel work, the
fisherman's knack with a hook when he hauls on the
slithery net from the rail of the lurching trawler, the
swing of the bridgeman's arm as he slings down the
whitehot rivet, the engineer's slow grip wise on the
throttle, the dirtfarmer's use of his whole body when,
whoaing the mules, he yanks the plow from the fur-
row. The young man walks by himself searching
through the crowd with greedy eyes, greedy ears taut
to hear, by himself, alone.



 

The streets are empty. People have packed into
subways, climbed into streetcars and buses i in the sta-
tions they've scampered for suburban trains; they've
filtered into lodgings and tenements, gone up in eleva-
tors into apartmenthouses. In a showwindow two sal-
low windowdressers in their shirtsleeves are bringing
out a dummy girl in a red evening dress, at a corner
welders in masks lean into sheets of blue flame repair-
ing a cartrack, a few drunk bums shamble along, a sad
streetwalker fidgets under an arclight. From the river
comes the deep rumbling whistle of a steamboat leav-
ing dock. A tug hoots far away.



 

The young man walks by himself, fast but not
fast enough, far but not far enough (faces slide out of
sight, talk trails into tattered scraps, footsteps tap

 

-v-

 


fainter in alleys); he must catch the last subway, the
streetcar, the bus, run up the gangplanks of all the
steamboats, register at all the hotels, work in the cities,
answer the wantads, learn the trades, take up the jobs,
live in all the boardinghouses, sleep in all the beds.
One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life
is not enough. At night, head swimming with wants,
he walks by himself alone.

 

No job, no woman, no house, no city.

 

Only the ears busy to catch the speech are not
alone; the ears are caught tight, linked tight by the
tendrils of phrased words, the turn of a joke, the sing-
song fade of a story, the gruff fall of a sentence; link-
ing tendrils of speech twine through the city blocks,
spread over pavements, grow out along broad parked
avenues, speed with the trucks leaving on their long
night runs over roaring highways, whisper down sandy
byroads past wornout farms, joining up cities and fill-
ingstations, roundhouses, steamboats, planes groping
along airways; words call out on mountain pastures,
drift slow down rivers widening to the sea and the
hushed beaches.

 

It was not in the long walks through jostling
crowds at night that he was less alone, or in the train-
ing camp at Allentown, or in the day on the docks at
Seattle, or in the empty reek of Washington City hot
boyhood summer nights, or in the meal on Market
Street, or in the swim off the red rocks at San Diego,
or in the bed full of fleas in New Orleans, or in the
cold razorwind off the lake, or in the gray faces trem-
bling in the grind of gears in the street under Michigan
Avenue, or in the smokers of limited expresstrains, or
walking across country, or riding up the dry mountain
canyons, or the night without a sleepingbag among
frozen beartracks in the Yellowstone, or canoeing Sun-
days on the Quinnipiac;



 

-vi-

 

but in his mother's words telling about longago,
in his father's telling about when I was a boy, in the
kidding stories of uncles, in the lies the kids told at
school, the hired man's yarns, the tall tales the dough-
boys told after taps; it was the speech that clung to the ears, the link
that tingled in the blood; U. S. A.

 

U. S. A. is the slice of a continent. U. S. A. is a
group of holding companies, some aggregations of trade
unions, a set of laws bound in calf, a radio network, a
chain of moving picture theatres, a column of stock-
quotations rubbed out and written in by a Western
Union boy on a blackboard, a publiclibrary full of old
newspapers and dogeared historybooks with protests
scrawled on the margins in pencil. U. S. A. is the
world's greatest rivervalley fringed with mountains
and hills, U. S. A. is a set of bigmouthed officials with
too many bankaccounts. U. S. A. is a lot of men buried
in their uniforms in Arlington Cemetery. U. S. A. is
the letters at the end of an address when you are away
from home. But mostly U. S. A. is the speech of the
people.

 

-vii-

 

THE 42nd PARALLEL

 

-iii-

 


CONTENTS

 


NEWSREEL I It was that emancipated race

 

3

 

 


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