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Manhattan Transfer

Manhattan Transfer, U.S.A

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Madras House to Harriet Martineau Biography

a novel by John Dos Passos, published in 1925. Manhattan Transfer was the most experimental of Dos Passos's early novels and in it he employed narrative techniques which he was to develop in the subsequent novels that make up the U.S.A. (1938) trilogy. As its title—a reference to the ‘transfer’ stations on the New York subway system—indicates, the novel is concerned with life in New York City in the years around the First World War and uses a series of characters through whom the urban experience is reflected. The novel dispenses with plot and narrative as traditionally understood and uses the resources of impressionism, newsreel, popular song, and journalistic reportage to mimetically recreate a ‘montage’ of New York life. In its technical features it is one of the most innovative American novels of the 1920s and was admired by many of Dos Passos's contemporaries, in both the USA and Europe. Like many of his early works, Manhattan Transfer is also important as a document of his political radicalism. See also Proletarian Literature in the USA.

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