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John Dos Passos and Cinema

Lisa Nanney

John Dos Passos and Cinema features previously unpublished manuscripts and correspondence illustrating case studies of John Dos Passos’s screen writing for Paramount Pictures (1934); his role in writing and filming The Spanish Earth (1937), a Spanish Civil War relief project whose circumstances culminated in his public break from the Left; the 1936 screen treatment he wrote just before The Spanish Earth in consultation with its director, Joris Ivens; and his later-career attempts, beginning in the 1940s, to adapt his radically innovative trilogy U.S.A. directly for the screen and to realign its leftist politics toward the anti-Communist conservatism reflected in his work and activism after the 1930s and the disillusionment of the Spanish Civil War. It thus provides a new context for and reading of his political reorientation in the 1930s that not only ended his long friendship with Ernest Hemingway but also evoked the opprobrium of his former champions on the Left and redefined his literary career.

“Lisa Nanney’s fine book adds considerable new detail and chronological range to the account of Dos Passos’s lifelong relationship with cinema. . . . John Dos Passos and Cinema will be the authoritative work on this aspect of Dos Passos’s career and aesthetics for some time. But it also provides fresh insights into the perennial topic of his political biography and his shift to the right, as well as providing superb detail on the specifics of the networks and aesthetics of transnational, intermedial experiment on the left that galvanized modernist culture in the 1920s and 1930s.”

—Mark Whalen, Modernism/modernity

About the Author

After faculty positions at University of North Carolina affiliates and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service-Qatar, Lisa Nanney co-edited and co-authored the 2017 study of John Dos Passos's visual works, The Paintings and Drawings of John Dos Passos: A Collection and Study (Clemson University Press). Her current book, John Dos Passos and Cinema (2019), further explores the intersection of his narrative methods and the visual arts by investigating his writing directly for the cinema, his translation of modernist fictional techniques to the screen, and the ways these forays into film writing were shaped by his re-evaluation of the Left at a pivotal point in his career.

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Pages: 260 pages

Published: July 2019


ISBN: 9781942954873