경제공황과 문학: 1930년대 대공황과 존 도스 패소스의『미합중국』
- 경제공황과 문학: 1930년대 대공황과 존 도스 패소스의『미합중국』
- Other Titles
- Literature in the Economic Depression: The 1930s Great Depression and Dos Passos’s U.S.A. Trilogy
- Great Depression; John Dos Passos; U.S.A.; Literary Formula; Myth of Success; Cult of Failure; Grotesque Body; Radicalism
- Issue Date
- 미국소설, v.17, no.1, pp.81 - 108
- It may not be an exaggeration to consider the Great Depression of the 1930s as the single most important economic event in the twentieth century. No depression before or since in America or in the western world had such a deep impact, aftereffects as well, not only on the economic system but also on the everyday life of the people living under the system. Many theoretical discourses of economy and cultural history have tried to measure out the causes and effects of the Great Depression. For Marxists, economic depression has been attributed to overproduction of capitalism; on the other hand, for academics like Peter Temin and Gene Smiley, outdated financial policy and gold-standard banking system have been the culprits for the Depression. Cultural historians like Frederick L. Allen have blamed social exuberance and greedy investment for causing the Depression. Amid their differences, they all pointed out the bubble boom saturated both in economy and in mind of people as the main cause for the Great Depression.
It is quite natural for literary works of the depression era, regardless of popular or serious ones, to do their best for figuring out the Great Depression as well as for dramatizing the personal moments and historical events before and after the depression. Likewise, as a product of the post-depression era, John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy, made up of The 42nd Parallel, Nineteen Nineteen, and The Big Money, tried to portray the historical phases of American capitalism from the origin of World War I to the outbreak of the Great Depression in light of the post-depression disillusionment and ironical cynicism. It is interestingly significant that the trilogy takes advantage of such stereotypical literary formulas as “the myth of success,” “the cult of failure,” and “the grotesque body,” which can be found in many popular literary works of the depression era. However, the genius of the U.S.A. trilogy lies in its way of reversing and satirizing the literary formulas through differentiated repetition. By means of using the literary formulas of the depression era, Dos Passos’s trilogy scores a success of portraying the devastation of the Great Depression, thereby exposing the contradictions and cruelties of monopoly capitalism.
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