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Lost Generation of Writers
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Lost Generation of Writers
The writers of the "Lost Generation" were pioneers in literature and society in the 1920's, and through the techniques and characters they created, they continue to influence writers and thinkers today. Their critique of American society and appreciation of a more distinctly European culture also advanced American culture exponentially.
The "Lost Generation" refers to a sense of moral loss or aimlessness common in the literary figures of the 1920's. The deaths of many young men in WWI seemed to have crushed the idea that if one acted virtuously, good things would happen. Many veterans returned home stripped of the moral guidance that had once directed them.They were, in effect, lost.
The "Lost Generation" also refers to a specific group of American writers who were fed up with the lack of an American cultural identity. The most well-known among this group are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos. During the period of the 20's, these writers emigrated to large cosmopolitan centers in Europe, such as Paris and London. It was from these cities that authors such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway wrote some of their greatest works.
This group of writers criticized american culture through their novels. Themes common in these novels were self-exile, care-free living, and a sense of spiritual alienation. Clear examples of this can be pulled from many works from this time. For example, in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel,
This Side of Paradise
young characters are seen masking their general depression by forcing the display of exuberance common to the jazz age.
The Great Gatsby
, another of Fitzgerald's works, features characters who display their happiness in order to hide their sad, inner loneliness.
Another pioneering author of this era, Ernest Hemingway had a great impact on modern writing. In his works, Hemingway did away with the florid prose and style of the 19th century in favor of a leaner, clearer prose centered around action, similar to the one common today. Hemingway also employed a technique of omission. He believed that by omitting essential information, a plot could be strengthened. The emigration to Europe also lent a desire for the establishment of a cosmopolitan culture in America. As the American culture became more defined, European powers began to recognize a distinctly democratic American culture.
The novels produced by the lost generation of writers lends insight to the lifestyles lead by the people of the 1920's. The techniques pioneered by these novels have also influenced many future generations of writers.
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