The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of José Robles

The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of José Robles

by Stephen Koch

"When John Dos Passos walked into Ernest Hemingway's room in the Florida Hotel in Madrid, the air was thick with tension.

Hemingway was fuming; Dos Passos was caught off guard.

They were there to witness the Spanish Civil War firsthand, but something more personal was going on: as Spain was unraveling thread by thread, so was their friendship." "Dos Passos was widely regarded as the literary voice of America's new socially engaged generation - his face had been on the cover of Time the week the war broke out.

Dos Passos's search for Robles would eventually take his literary career and his friendship with Hemingway to the breaking point." Stephen Koch explores the short time the two men shared in Spain, and how their split changed the life and work of each man - and changed the course of American literature.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Biography
  • Rating: 3.86
  • Pages: 320
  • Publish Date: May 16th 2006 by Counterpoint
  • Isbn10: 1582432813
  • Isbn13: 9781582432816

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In 1937, American novelists John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, who became friends in Paris in the 1920s, went to Spain for first hand experience of the Spanish Civil War. What happened in Spain ended their friendship. Dos Passos was a supporter of the radical left and was committed to the Spanish Republican cause. Dos Passos' friend, José Robles Pazos, was a left wing Spanish academic who had taught at John Hopkins University. Im less interested in the details of the war itself and more interested in the involvement in it of writers such as Dos Passos, Hemingway and Orwell, so Ill continue to look out for suitable works covering that aspect of the war.

* The Spanish Civil War and the leftist learnings of many 1930s artists are central to the story of the disintegration of the friendship of Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. Those three come together, sort of, in an odd but interesting story of the 1930s' major literary lights by Stephen Koch titled The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of Jose Robles. Hemingway and Dos Passos in the middle of the 1930 were America's two leading novelists. The story revolves around the dissipation of the friendship between Hemingway and Dos Passos. That occurred for a number of reasons, including Hemingway's paranoia and his role in spreading the rumor that Jose Robles -- Dos Passos' friend -- was executed by the Spanish government because he was a fascist spy.

There is some explanation here as to why Dos Passos' writing seems to fade after his period in Spain, and why Hemingway's writing flourished.

This book is absolutely important for people interested specially in the following topics: Spain, 20th century history, communism, literature (Dos Passos, Hemingway), politics, and modern history in general. By the way, this new book follows up on Stephen Koch's previous work "Double Lives", which is, I believe, the "intellectual father" of this new book, since they are very related. There are three contending sides in this political/criminal story: the communists (aka Stalinists) and their servants (propagandists, artists, hit-men), the independents (non-Stalinist communists, anarchists, and other revolutionaries), and the vanity-fair people (rich, stupid, intellectual and irresponsible fellows who lent their names to one or the other side of the battle that caused the lives of many REAL working-class people.

A book about John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway's falling out amidst and as a result of the the Spanish Civil War. This book has everything, art, friendship, betrayal, war.

When I read the book, I kept thinking that the author came across as if he was struggling to reach his word count, filling pages with repetitions while a shorter scene would have been more effective, and perhaps relying too much on research by an undergraduate assistant, although perhaps the author was so outraged during the entire time it took him to write the book that he kept writing in short repetitive sentences in shock and anger at the fate of Robles and, in a way, dos Passos (I've read "The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction" by the same author and that style is much more appropriate).

A surprising aspect is the degree on communist influence on the Civil War players.

This is the story of two authors during the Spanish Civil War and the death of a friend and perhaps the death of their friendship.