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The Lost Generation & Modernist Writers

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Ryan Cleary

on 18 April 2013

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Transcript of The Lost Generation & Modernist Writers

The Lost Generation
&
Modernist Writers

By: Ryan Cleary, Jamie Thorbjornsen, Danielle Atanasio, Nick DiMarco, and Madelyn Grun The "Lost Generation" defines a sense of moral loss or aimlessness apparent in literary figures during the 1920s.
World War I seemed to have destroyed the idea that if you acted virtuously, good things would happen. Many good, young men went to war and died, or returned home either physically or mentally wounded (for most, both), and their faith in the moral guideposts that had earlier given them hope, were no longer valid...they were "Lost." The term "the lost generation" was coined by Gertrude Stein who is rumored to have heard her auto-mechanic while in France to have said that his young workers were, "une generation perdue". This referred to the young workers' poor auto-mechanic repair skills. Gertrude Stein would take this phrase and use it to describe the people of the 1920's who rejected American post World War I values. The three best known writers among The Lost Generation are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. The "Lost Generation" was the generation that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway who used it as one of two contrasting epigraphs for his novel, The Sun Also Rises. In that volume Hemingway credits the phrase to Gertrude Stein, who was then his mentor and patron. Modernism describes the modernist movements in the arts, and its set of cultural tendencies and associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernists experimented with literary form and expression, adhering to the modernist maxim to "Make it new." The modernist literary movement was driven by a desire to overturn traditional modes of representation and express the new sensibilities of their time. They were commonly self-exiles, who chose to leave a homeland they considered artistically, intellectually, politically, racially, or sexually limiting or even oppressive. They were drawn to Paris by the reputed vitality of its artistic and intellectual scene, by its apparent tolerance for innovation and experimentation, by the high respect accorded the artist by Parisians of all classes, and by the accompanying level of freedom allowed the individual in his or her search for identity and artistic voice. The modernist period also saw a radical experimentation in literary form and expression. In part this developed in response to new insights provided by recently established disciplines such as psychology. This was certainly true of the stream-of-consciousness technique. The "Lost Generation" mentality was also described as having a sense of moral loss after World War I crushed the idea that if you are good, good things will happen to you. The beliefs of the people began to change and get more hopeless. There were far reaching changes happening in the Western society and the idea of modernism rejected the ideas that previously existed such as realism and Enlightenment, and the belief in a compassionate and all powerful "Creator". The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald during the 1920s. It takes place during a time of prosperity in the United States after World War I. It is one of Fitzgerald's best works of literature. While the phrase "Lost Generation" classifies a generation of youth, it has a special connotation in the literary world. Many Americans who'd experienced Europe during the Great War returned overseas as a way to escape mainstream America. A community of expatriates formed in Paris, and in looking at America from a distance, these writers created a new literary culture that captured the futile spirit of the times. F. Scott Fitzgerald often wrote critically about the illusions of wealth and fame, while at the same time partaking in the excesses of celebrity and striving for immortality in literature. Fitzgerald succumbed to alcoholism and his wife to mental illness after years behind the facade of glamor and celebrity.
The years immediately after World War I brought a highly vocal rebellion against established social, sexual, and aesthetic conventions and a vigorous attempt to establish new values. Young artists flocked to Greenwich Village, Chicago, and San Francisco, determined to protest and intent on making a new art. Others went to Europe, living mostly in Paris as expatriates. They willingly accepted the name given them by Gertrude Stein: the lost generation. Out of their disillusion and rejection, the writers built a new literature, impressive in the glittering 1920s and the years that followed. Ernest Hemmingway’s dense, understated writing style became a model for generations of writers. He wrote for "the lost generation," of young men who came of age in the trenches of World War I and were unable to settle back into the norms of traditional society. John Dos Passos, in full John Roderigo Dos Passos (born Jan. 14, 1896, Chicago, Ill., U.S.—died Sept. 28, 1970, Baltimore, Md.), American writer, one of the major novelists of the post-World War I “lost generation,” whose reputation as a social historian and as a radical critic of the quality of American life rests primarily on his trilogy U.S.A. Throughout much of the twentieth century, Paris was widely viewed as the cultural capital of the western world. As such, it exercised a magnetic attraction upon several generations of artists and intellectuals, large numbers of whom migrated to the French capital from all over the world. The number of English-speaking expatriates was especially impressive. Like the thousands of tourists who flocked to Paris, they were stirred by the city's physical beauty, its sense of history, its fine restaurants and sidewalk cafés, and its lively and sometimes even decadent nightlife. Unlike more casual visitors, however, the expatriates came to stay, at least for a time (some for only a few months, others for many years). The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early and enduring modernist novel, it received mixed reviews upon publication. Hemingway biographer Jeffrey Meyers writes that it is "recognized as Hemingway's greatest work", and Hemingway scholar Linda Wagner-Martin calls it his most important novel. Fitzgerald was a bright, handsome and ambitious boy, the pride and joy of his parents and especially his mother. He attended the St. Paul Academy, and when he was 13 he saw his first piece of writing appear in print: a detective story published in the school newspaper. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Dos Passos was the illegitimate son of John Randolph Dos Passos (1844–1917), a distinguished lawyer of half Madeiran Portuguese descent, and Lucy Addison Sprigg Madison of Petersburg, Virginia. The elder Dos Passos was married with a son several years older than John. Although John's father married his mother after the death of his first wife in 1910, he refused to acknowledge John for another two years, until he was 16. Manhattan Transfer is a novel by John Dos Passos published in 1925. It focuses on the development of urban life in New York City from the Gilded Age to the Jazz Age as told through a series of overlapping individual stories. It is considered to be one of Dos Passos' most important works. The book attacks the consumerism and social indifference of contemporary urban life, portraying a Manhattan that is merciless yet teeming with energy and restlessness. THAT'S ALL FOLKS!
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