Modernism In Manhattan Transfer

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Manhattan Transfer describes a panoramic view of life in New York City between 1890 and 1925. It contained fragments of popular songs, news headlines, and stream of consciousness monologues from a horde of unrelated characters. Dos Passos felt that his novels should paint a picture of society as it was, to expose human difficulties by showing them realistically. Following the directions of an author he admired, Walt Whitman, Dos Passos who sought to use a “moral microscope” upon humanity. He became a leading modernist with his novel, an astonishingly original novel. Influenced by modernism more than by any literary precedent it is a montage of many fictional lives linked to the central stories of an idealistic reporter and a calculating actress.…show more content…
It is one of the essences of Dos Passos’s method here, and of his vision of modern life. The42nd Parallel established, Dos Passos as an unusually serious artist, serious with the seriousness that expresses itself in the propagandist spirit. He cannot be interested in individuals without consciously relating them to the society and the civilization that make the individual life possible. The artistic shortcomings of his work might be, not merely excused as inevitable, but praised as propagandist virtues: they are necessary to a work that exhibits the decay of capitalistic…show more content…
The title depicts the form, which is a sort of musical chairs. Characters appear and are described to the point where the reader begins to see them as people, only to be set aside while other characters are introduced and partially developed. As new people are introduced, the earlier ones fade into the background, and some of them disappear, so that there seem always to be about the same number involved in the game. In another figure, it is as if a wave passed over Manhattan carrying three or four characters across the Island and picking up half-a-dozen others whom it abandons successively as it picks up still others in its
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