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Originally published in 1933 by The Macaulay Company, Yesterday's Burdens is the second novel by Robert M. Coates, "Lost Generation" writer and long-time art critic at The New Yorker. Prior to publication, three chapters of the novel appeared in The New Yorker under the title "The Dada City" (1930), and another chapter in The American Caravan, a Yearbook of American Literature (1931).

Yesterday's Burdens was first resurrected in 1975 by the Southern Illinois University Press as part of their “Lost American Fiction” series, and included a new afterword by Malcolm Cowley. A paperback version of that edition was published the following year by the Popular Library. The novel has been out of print since.

This new edition of Yesterday's Burdens contains Malcolm Cowley's afterword from the 1975 edition as well as a new introduction by Mathilde Roza, associate professor of American Literature and American Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and author of Following Strangers: The Life and Literary Works of Robert M. Coates (University of South Carolina Press, 2011).

"Coates composed the book like a collage, employing an experimental writing style that incorporated billboards, advertising slogans, and traffic signs to make immediate and vivid the perceptions and experiences of the characters. In Yesterday's Burdens, Coates's 'Dada' spirit brings to life the cacophonous, visually chaotic and mentally demanding life of New York City."

— Mathilde Roza & Jack Mearns, "Collecting Robert M. Coates," Firsts, The Book Collector's Magazine, October 2007

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780578677248
Publisher: Richard Schober D/B/A Tough Poets Press
Publication date: 06/01/2020
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Robert Myron Coates was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on April 6, 1897. He graduated from Yale University in 1919. During World War One, his studies were briefly interrupted by naval aviation ground training at M.I.T. and flight training on Long Island. In the winter of 1921, he moved to Paris, where he befriended such "Lost Generation" writers as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Malcolm Cowley, and Ford Maddox Ford. Coates returned to New York in 1926 with two completed novels, the first still in manuscript and the second, The Eater of Darkness, already published by Contact Editions in Paris with help from Stein. It was released in the U.S. in 1929 by The Macaulay Company and is considered the first Dada novel in the English language.

Coates joined the staff of The New Yorker shortly after the magazine's launch in 1925, where he collaborated on "The Talk of the Town" column and wrote a weekly book page. He served for thirty years as the magazine's art critic, and is credited with being the first to use the term "abstract expressionism" in 1946 in reference to the works of Hans Hofmann, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and others.

He published twelve books: five novels, three collections of short stories, and four non-fiction books, most notably The Outlaw Years: The History of the Land Pirates of the Natchez Trace (1930), which has been reprinted several times. Another of his better known works was the novel Wisteria Cottage (1948), a psycho-thriller which earned rave reviews on its initial publication and was adapted for the 1958 film noir Edge of Fury.

According to his friend Malcolm Cowley, Coates spent the last three years of his life "trying to finish one story-only one-to round out a book that he hoped would be his best collection. But he was wasting away with cancer, and he died February 8, 1973, with the story and the book unfinished."

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