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Thread: 1920s American Literature

  1. #31
    I don't agree that the pinnacle has necessarily been reached. Sure we have some wonderful writing from that period and there has certainly been a nihilistic turn to postmodern thought in which we seem to think the present can never live up to the past. However, I stumbled across Underworld by Don DeLillo last summer and honestly I think that could be a contender for one of the greatest novels ever written, American or otherwise. The scope is so massive and beautifully observational. Also DeLillo took a lot of influence from these early modernist writers going to show that good literature eventually spawns good literature

  2. #32
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    I think JBI makes a mistake here when he suggests that expatriates such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Pound, and Eliot were all against American society. They may have been living in France, Spain, Italy, or England at the time but they were mostly writing about home. The Beautiful and Damned like The Great Gatsby is set in New York. Hemingway's stories at that time are all about his childhood in Michigan. With the possible exception of Eliot who gave up his citizenship to abide in England, and Pound who was later convicted of treason, the others are all fairly patriotic.

    I think that the term "Lost Generation" wasn't applied strictly to Americans or expatriates. It was applied to the whole generation and even included German writers like Erich Maria Remarque, a generation which had lived through a world war and was now disillusioned with the society, the morality, and the leadership of their elders. They weren't always as positive, obedient, deferential, sober, or even hard working as their elders felt they had been at their age. Hemingway tells us in A Moveable Feast that the origin of the term came from Gertrude Stein's French auto mechanic complaining about a young man working for him and Gertrude Steins emphatic agreement. Here, it was being used as a term of derision, and a put down to millions, sort of like the label "Generation X" or "Generation Y" have been in recent memory; whereas our elders tend to humbly refer to themselves as "The Greatest Generation."

    The term was not meant to be complimentary. It was meant to evoke the spirit of damaged goods, of a crop withered away, of diminished potential, of hollow, broken men, good for nothing, a label that Hemingway doesn't accept in the least.
    I thought of Miss Stein and Sherwood Anderson and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline and I thought 'who is calling who a lost generation?'
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  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    I think JBI makes a mistake here when he suggests that expatriates such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Pound, and Eliot were all against American society. They may have been living in France, Spain, Italy, or England at the time but they were mostly writing about home.
    Agreed.

  4. #34
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    Do you know any american epistolary novels from modernism?I'll be grateful for any clues!

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