John Dos Passos

In the summer of 1922, a young novelist, poet and wanderer named John Dos Passos spent several weeks in Skaneateles, staying at a house rented by a friend’s parents. The friend was Dudley Poole, who Dos Passos knew from Harvard. After graduating in 1916, Dos Passos had gone to Spain to study art and architecture; in 1917, he volunteered as an ambulance driver with friends E. E. Cummings and Robert Hillyer, serving in France and Italy in the days before the U.S. entered World War I. Also that year, his poetry was published in Eight Harvard Poets. In 1918, he returned to the U.S. to train as a medic for the U.S. Army; stationed in Paris, he studied at the Sorbonne.

By the summer of 1922, he had published two novels, One Man’s Initiation (1920) and Three Soldiers (1921). He and Poole were living in New York City, but found it hectic and so retreated to Skaneateles. For Dos Passos, it was a short visit; he returned to New York, went to North Carolina for rest, and then on to Paris and Rome. Over a long career, Dos Passos wrote 42 novels, and numerous poems, essays, and plays.

With thanks to John Dos Passos’ Correspondence with Arthur K. McComb (1991) edited by Melvin Landsberg

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