Did the Lost Generation movement reflect a larger movement going on in America in the 1920s?
Izzy Sanderson
"See, they return; ah, see the tentative
Movements, and the slow feet,

The trouble in the pace and the uncertain

See, they return, one, and by one,
With fear, as half-awakened;
As if the snow should hesitate
And murmur in the wind,
and half turn back;
These were the "Wing'd-with-Awe,"

Gods of the wingèd shoe!
With them the silver hounds,
sniffing the trace of air!"
[(from "The Return") Personaee
Copyright (c) 1926, 1935, 1971 Ezra Pound

Table of Contents America in the 1920s
Post War Politics

Culture in the 1920s
The Lost Generation
Who Participated in the Lost Generation?
Biographies of key people in the Lost Generation
Did the movement reflect a great movement in America
Fun Facts and Tidbits

America in the 1920s
In the 1920s America began to change. There was an election of a new Republican president, Warren Harding, a change in culture, clashing between modernism and fundamentalism, and economic and social problems

Post war politics
World War I ended in 1918, two years before the era of the 1920s began. Even though the war was over in remained very much in the minds of the people and showed its ripple effects in all areas of American life. In the election of a president to lead this new era, Republican Warren G. Harding came to power with the powerful slogan, “A return to normalcy.” The war had brought an end Progressive era. In the 1920s the congress remained mostly Republican and due to this business flourished and farmers and unions took a hit. In the 1920s the government did not entirely practice laissez-faire economics but instead practiced the idea of limited government regulation in order to help business grow. President Harding’s time in office was riddled with corruption and scandal, like the Teapot Dome scandal. After Harding’s death his vice president Calvin Coolidge took office. Coolidge’s famous quote that is said to encapsulate the era of the 1920s was, “the business of America is business.” Coolidge was a relatively uninvolved president who took the back seat and let business take the lead. After Coolidge’s time in office, Herbert Hoover run and won by promising to extend “Coolidge prosperity,” for four more years.

Economy lost_generation_image_4.jpg
In the 1920s, the economy became the most important aspect of America. Following the First World War there was a small recession that then gave way into a longer period of great economic prosperity. This prosperity however did not reach every American and the farmers and unions were subjected to great losses. The economy flourished not only due to business but also due to a heightened use of electricity and oil.

Business lost_generation_image_1.jpg

In the 1920s the Progressive era came to a screeching halt and business was on the rise. The Republicans in power thought that the nation would thrive if business took control in developing the economy.

lost_generation_image_3.jpg Culture in the 1920s
In the 1920s the culture of America changed drastically. For the first time in history more people were living in the city rather than rural areas and rate of consumerism was off the charts. New appliances like washing machines and the increase in sales of the automobile kept consumerism on the rise. The 1920s also brought a new type of woman who was rebellious and challenged gender roles. Divorce was on the rise and more and more women were taking control of their own lives. The 1920s also gave way to a great conflict between modernism and fundamentalism. Rural areas in the South were preaching creationism and were teaching the bible literally while other groups in the cities were teaching evolution and challenging the bible.

The Lost Generation lost_generation_image_2.jpg
In the 1920s a group of writers and artists called the Lost Generation came together. They were pointing fingers at the hypocrisy of religion and they also were angry about the war, calling it fraud. The Lost Generation of artists some average Americans as anti-intellectual and small minded and even verging of puritanical. The Lost Generation thought that the war had been fought for money interests. They became disillusioned and fed up and they decided to leave what they believed to be a corrupt America and go to Europe. The Lost Generation of artists some average Americans as anti-intellectual and small minded and even verging of puritanical.(1)

Who participated in the Lost Generation?
The most famous artists of the Lost Generation were Gertrude Stein who coined the name the Lost Generation, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Eugene O’Neill. All of these artists expressed their feelings of contempt and disillusionment through their works. They did not like the mass consumerism and business-oriented culture of America in the 1920s.(1)

Biographies of key people in the Lost Generation movement

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
lgStein.jpg Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1874. She was the youngest of five children. Stein took her first trip to Europe when she was only six months old and she learned numerous European languages before learning English. Stein attended Radcliffe College and studied psychology. She then moved on to Johns Hopkins to study medicine but she did not obtain a degree. There are numerous speculations as to way she left Johns Hopkins one of which being that she suffered from a failed romance with May Bookstaver. In 1903 Stein moved to Paris with her brother and they began to collect art. Stein lived at 27, rue de Fleurus and the home was a frequent place for their circle of artist friends to come and visit. These noteworthy friends included Picasso, Matisse, and Gris. In 1907 Stein met her soon to be lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas. Stein began writing and developing new approaches to the way people look at writing. Stein wrote The Making of Americans in 1906 but it was not published until 1925. Other works in her earlier life included, Three Lives and Tender Button. Steins writing pushed her farther into the art world of Europe and her home became a meeting place of the writers of the Lost Generation. During the First World War Stein worked hard to aid the war effort by delivering medical supplies and she was even awarded a medal of recognition by the French Government for her help. It was Stein who first spoke the term the Lost Generation to refer to disillusioned and disappointed English and American expatriates. In 1933 Stein’s first novel of great acclaim was published called The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. During the time of World War II Stein moved to Culoz in order to remain protected. After the warthey moved back to Paris. Stein soon died from cancer on July 27th, 1946.(3)
Video Link:

hemingway.jpgErnest Hemingway (1899-1961) lost_generation_image_6.jpg
Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. Hemingway joined the service during World War I and he was placed in a unit in Italy. Hemingway started his writing career as a reporter for a newspaper and he even went to Europe to cover important events like the Greek Revolution. In his twenties Hemingway became a member of the Lost Generation of writers. During this time he wrote The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway won the Noble Prize in Literature in 1954. (2)
Ezra Pound (1885-1972) ezra_pound_1945_may_26_mug_shot1.jpg Ezra Pound was born in 1885 in Hailey, Idaho. He was raised in Pennsylvania and spent the greater part of his life in Europe. Pound went to Venice and then to London where he wrote and tried to find himself as a poet. He moved to Paris in 1920 and became a part of the writer’s circle called the Lost Generation. Pound then went to Italy in 1924 where he made anti-American broadcasts during the Second World War, which got him arrested as a traitor in 1945. He was sent then to America where he was put in a mental institution for 12 years. Pound then left America and went back to Italy where he died in 1972. (4)
fitzgerald_pic.jpgScott F. Fitzgerald (1896- 1940) Scott F. Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Fitzgerald enlisted in the First World War and was stationed at Camp Sheridan where he met and fell in love with his future wife Zelda Sayre. Fitzgerald’s first acclaimed novel, This Side of Paradise was published in 1920 and the week after the publication he married Zelda Sayre. In 1924 Fitzgerald and Zelda went to Paris seeking tranquility and it was there that Fitzgerald wrote the Great Gatsby. In Paris Fitzgerald met Hemingway and great literary friendship began. Fitzgerald was an alcoholic and in France he often went from lavish party to lavish party. In 1930 Zelda suffered her first breakdown and was put in psychiatric care. From then on Zelda relapsed several times and she died in 1948 in a fire. Fitzgerald died soon after her thinking he was a great failure. (5)

Did the movement reflect a greater movement going on at the time?
The Lost Generation of artists were a group of people who left America because they were disillusioned and fed up with the newly found consumerism and materialism that was taking hold of Americans. The average American person in the 1920s was not overwhelmingly concerned with the fate of America and they were more involved with their industry jobs and making money then the War and the fading away of intellectualism. The Lost Generation movement that took place in Europe did not reflect a greater movement in America.

Fun Facts and tidbits largecafe.jpg
There are numerous stories as to how Gertrude Stein gave the group of writers the name the Lost Generation. One story is that one summer in Belley, while Gertrude Stein’s Ford Auto was in need of some repair, a young garage mechanic at the hotel where she was staying serviced it quickly. When she mentioned the young man’s efficiency to the proprietor, he replied that boys of his age made good workers, though it was different with the ones who had gone to war. Young men became civilized between the ages of 18 and 25, while the soldiers had missed that civilized experience. They were, he said,
une génération perdue. (1)
paris_lost_generation.jpgThe Lost Generation’s home was mainly in Paris but it reached other towns from Munich to Madrid, Pamplona to Rapallo. In Paris the Lost Generation of artists were centered in Montparnasse on the Left Bank and this area was the setting for more than one of Hemingway’s novels. (2)
Hemingway's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize:
«Having no facility for speech-making and no command of oratory nor any domination of rhetoric, I wish to thank the administrators of the generosity of Alfred Nobel for this Prize. No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience.It would be impossible for me to ask the Ambassador of my country to read a speech in which a writer said all of the things which are in his heart. Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten.Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.

I have spoken too long for a writer. A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it. Again I thank you.»
The Audio: http://town.hall.org/radio/HarperAudio/012494_harp_01_ITH.au
(1) Tripodi, Jill. "The Lost Generation." Users.rowan.edu.
(2) Mills, Ian C. "Hemingway's Paris." Discover France.
(3) Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Biography of Gertrude Stein." About.com.
(4) "Ezra Pound Biography." Answers.com. <http://www.answers.com/topic/ezra-pound>.
(5) "A Brief Life of Fitzgerald." Sc.edu. <http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/biography.html

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