Perspectives on the Literature and Culture of Portuguese America
Chapter 2. The March King
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THE MARCH KING
“Composer, Novelist, Conductor Band” was John Philip Sousa’s answer when asked to list his occupation for the official Officers’ of Sousa Training Record at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. At the time, he was sixty-three years old, an old patriot answering still again his country’s call. To some, it will come as a surprise that Sousa was not joking when he called himself a novelist; but even to those aware that he wrote and published fiction, that he would see himself as first a composer, and second as a novelist, relegating to third place his most famous and richly rewarding role as Conductor of the Sousa Band, comes as an even greater surprise. For the truth is that although he did not publish his first novel until he was forty-eight years old and though that one was followed by only two others—the third when he was sixty-five—Sousa was deadly serious about his role as novelist. And why shouldn’t he be? His first novel, The Fifth String—actually a novella—was published in 1902 and sold over 50,000 copies, and it did so despite the indifference of reviewers, the Sousa name having something to do with the buying public’s warm reception. In any case, having succeeded with this first book, Sousa immediately set about on a second one, a boy’s novel entitled Pipetown Sandy, brought out in 1905. This time around, the public results were different...
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