Zane Grey

The Day of the Beast

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The Day of the Beast by Zane Grey - is a 1922 novel by Zane Grey. Plot introduction Daren Lane, a World War I veteran, returns from the battlefields of Europe to the American Midwest. In Middletown USA, he encounters a postwar Jazz Age society whose revelers are tired of hearing about the war. Lane attempts to stem the tide of hedonism and debauchery that is sweeping the town with mixed results. Zane Grey is, of course, very well known as an author of Westerns, but in The Day of the Beast (1922) he deserts the romance of Old West for a topical theme and a deliberately unromantic and stereotypically modern setting: Middleville [...] a prosperous and thriving inland town of twenty thousand inhabitants, identical with many towns of about the same size in the middle and eastern United States. The book is a fierce and stormy (and indeed steamy) melodrama, and an indignant denunciation of American postwar society. Three wounded privates return from the war, too late for a hero's welcome: Well, the first few soldiers to return from France got a grand reception, were made heroes of. They were lucky to get back while the sentiment was hot. But that didn't last.... Now, a year and more after the war, where does the soldier get off? [...] there're over six hundred thousand of you disabled veterans, and for all I can read and find out the government has done next to nothing. New York is full of begging soldiers-on the streets. Think of it! And the poor devils are dying everywhere. [....] Well, a selfish and weak administration could hardly be expected to keep extravagant promises to patriots. But that the American public, as a body, should now be sick of the sight of a crippled soldier-and that his sweetheart should turn him down!-this is the hideous blot, the ineradicable shame, the stinking truth, the damned mystery! So a character fulminates, and as he speaks he clearly has Zane Grey behind him, urging him on. The novel makes a crude and total contrast between, on the one hand, the returning soldiers, physically damaged but morally unblemished, and on the other the hedonists, Pharisees and hypocrites at home. To Daren Lane, the book's hero, the war had been a great crusade against barbarism: It had been an ideal which he imagined he shared with the millions of American boys who entered the service. Too deep ever to be spoken of! The barbarous and simian Hun, with his black record against Belgian, and French women, should never set foot on American soil.
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9 hours 34 minutes
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