John (Roderigo) Dos Passos

Dos Passos (…) “The greatest writer of our time”

Jean-Paul Sartre. In Dos Passos, The Critical Heritage, London and New York: Routledge, 1988, p. 3.

The writer and Ponta do Sol
“Manoel dos Passos’s baptismal certificate reads 1812. He was born in Punta do Sol, a tiny town buried in a deep gash in the mountain a few miles east of Funchal, which is the capital of Madeira. Fishing boats are hauled up on the shingle beach below and on the slopes above are the vineyards and irrigated terraced croplands that support the population. While I was growing up I thought of my father’s people as tillers of the soil, but they actually seem to have been men of the counting house and the pen, notaries, minor officials. There were priests in the collateral branches. On the central square a solid-looking residence with the seven stars of the Great Bear engraved over the door is still known as the Vila Passos.”

John Dos Passos, The Best Times, New York: The New American Library, 1968, pp. 14-15.

“I apologise for not speaking my grandparents' language. As you know, my grandfather left Ponta do Sol a lot more than a hundred years ago. It is very touching for me to be received with such great kindness and consideration. […] Later, my father became increasingly interested in Madeira and his Portuguese roots. When I was eight years old, he brought me for a few weeks to Funchal. So, when I arrived here a few days ago, I recognized the purplish rocks, the blue sea, the divers and the little lizards that run through the gardens of the Reid’s Hotel. I remember the kind hospitality of friends and relatives from Madeira”.

In Eco do Funchal, July 24, 1960, pp. 1 and 2

Brief Biography
1896 John Roderigo Dos Passos, son of John Randolph Dos Passos and Lucy Addison Sprigg Madison, is born on January 14th, in Chicago, Illinois.
1897- 1900 Spent his childhood travelling through Europe with his mother.
1905 First visit to the island of Madeira accompanied by his father.
1907-1911 Attends Choate Elementary School in Wallingfort, Connecticut, where he publishes his first piece of work in the school newspaper.
1912 Enrolls in the Literature degree at Harvard University. He meets E.E. Cummings, Gilbert Seldes and Dudley Poore.
1916 Graduates with merit and moves to Spain, where he studies architecture.
1917 Enlists for service in France as a volunteer in the Norton-Harjes ambulance unit.
1919 Writes Three Soldiers during his stay in Spain.
1921 Three Soldiers is published in New York by George H. Doran. Brief trip to the island of Madeira in the company of the writer and friend E.E. Cummings.
1923 First exhibition of his paintings at the Whitney Studio Club. Starts writing Manhattan Transfer.
1925 Becomes a member of the executive board of the radical left-wing newspaper New Masses. Manhattan Transfer is published in November.
1930 Publishes The 42nd Parallel.
1932 Publishes 1919.
1934 Publishes In All Countries and Three Plays: The Garbage Man.
1936 Publishes Big Money.
1938 Publishes the U.S.A. Trilogy – The 42nd Parallel, 1919 and The Big Money.
1945 Remains as a correspondent during World War II for Life Magazine and after the war reports on the Nuremberg war crimes trial.
1947 Elected for the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
1957 Receives the Gold Medal in the Fiction category from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, USA.
1960 Visit to the Island of Madeira with his wife, Elizabeth Hamlin Dos Passos, and daughter Lucy, where they were welcomed by relatives and local authorities.
1966 Publishes The Best Times: An Informal Memoir.
1967-1968 Travels through Portugal, Italy and the United States of America.
1969 Publishes The Portugal Story.
1970 Dies in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 28th.



Administrative Supervision:
Regional Directorate for Culture

Bernardo de Vasconcelos

Rua do Príncipe D. Luís, n.º 3
9360-218 Ponta do Sol

(+351) 291 974 034



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Closed: Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.

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