American Writers And The SaccoVanzetti Case — страница 3

  • Просмотров 993
  • Скачиваний 10
  • Размер файла 41

film with an international cast. In 1966 Porter was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Millay, born two years after Millay in Maine and a graduate of Vassar, was most famous for her lyric poems and sonnets; she had published numerous collections by the time of her death in 1950 and secured a place in American literary history. Dos Passos, born in 1896 in Chicago, was a graduate of Harvard who went on to drive an ambulance in France during World War I and then to write about his first book about his war experiences. His most famous literary achievement is the trilogy entitled U.S.A. , which describes the lives of both fictional and historical characters in the social dramas and conflicts of the first decades of the twentieth century. The third volume of

the trilogy, The Big Money, takes the Sacco-Vanzetti case as representative of a number of disturbing trends in the American public sphere—corruption, commercialism, exploitation, injustice. Upton Sinclair, whose novel Boston is the longest text dedicated to the subject of Sacco and Vanzetti, belonged to another generation than Porter, Millay, and Dos Passos; born in 1878 in Baltimore, he is known primarily as a socialist, California candidate for public office, and muckraking novelist, who published more than 100 works of fiction and nonfiction between 1901-1940 and who continued writing into his last years. His most famous novel, and the one most likely to be studied in American classrooms, is The Jungle (1906), an expos? of the meatpacking industry in Chicago. Three of the

texts in this article –Upton Sinclair`s Boston, Katherine Anne Porter`s memoir The Never-Ending Wrong, and Edna St. Vincent Millay`s poem "Justice Denied in Massachusetts"– do go in, contrary to Adorno`s negative aesthetics, for "tangible social criticism" in "non-radical forms"; the fourth, John Dos Passos`s The Big Money, deploys its modernist innovations in the service of political engagement and has accordingly remained on the margins of the canon. The protestors adopted different strategies to record their obsessive or enduring interest in the case. Porter`s memoir is a brief, conflicted retrospective of her personal involvement in the protests. Sinclair`s massive two-volume "documentary novel" Boston, rather like a forerunner of

Truman Capote`s "nonfiction novel," attempts after much research to present both the historical specifics of the case and imagined supplementary characters and conversations. By contrast, Dos Passos`s The Big Money, like its two predecessors in the trilogy USA, adopts modernist narrative strategies not to evade the political or to invent a private language but to represent the various public discourses and ideological conflicts of the 1920s, including the Sacco-Vanzetti case. Many more novels, plays, and poems were written about Sacco and Vanzetti; an overview of this literature appears in Louis Joughin and Edmund Morgan`s The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti.[12] Of the reception of these works the authors comment: Novels of the extreme left usually suffer a curious fate;

they are overpraised by those whose political sympathies lie with the author, and are undervalued by neutral or liberal critics. This fact is not entirely irrelevant to the Sacco-Vanzetti literature; it, too, as a class of writing, has usually met the same judgment by predisposition. [13] Most of those who wrote about the case were not anarchists, but all were moved to action by the injustice of the trial, apparently a sequel to the Haymarket trial of 1886-87, which had also attracted the sympathy of intellectuals for those anarchists, accused of throwing a bomb and starting a riot in Chicago. The American intellectuals involved in the Sacco-Vanzetti case were fellow travelers of sorts, partially attracted by anarchism`s humanitarian principles, its outrage against social and

economic injustice, its ambivalence toward modernity, but simultaneously critical of the anarchist propensity to violence, "propaganda by the deed." As Sacco and Vanzetti`s supporters recognized, it was both ironic and appropriate that Boston was the location of the two anarchists` trial and execution. In his novel about the case, entitled simply Boston, Upton Sinclair often alludes to the history of the city : the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, the Liberty Bell, the Brahmins who claimed descent from the first Puritan settlers. "An odd turn of fate," writes Sinclair of Vanzetti, "that this Italian seeker of liberty should have been convicted within sight of Plymouth Rock, and killed on ground over which Paul Revere had ridden." [14] Boston is