Modern American Novel
Fifth Lecture
Mrs. Nouf Al-Khattabi
The Writers of the “Lost Generation”
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The "Lost Generation" is a term used to
characterize a general feeling of disillusionment in
American literture. The term is used for the period
from the end of World War I to the beginning of
the Great Depression, though in the United States it
is used for the generation of young people who
came of age during and shortly after World War I,
alternatively known as the World War I
Generation.
The Writers of the “Lost Generation”
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During this time many American lost their ideals. At
the same time America lost many fine writers.
The Lost Generation writers felt that America was
not such a success story because the country was
devoid of a cosmopolitan culture. Their solution to
this issue was to pack up their bags and travel to
Europe’s cosmopolitan cultures, such as Paris and
London. Here they expected to find literary
freedom and a cosmopolitan way of life.
The Writers of the “Lost Generation”
Why was it significant to American Culture?
This temporary emigration of American talent into
cosmopolitan cities such as Paris, is significant to
American culture in two parts.
 One, because it aided in the desire for a cosmopolitan
A cosmopolitan culture (a culture which includes and
values a variety of backgrounds and cultures) to be
established and to exist in America.
 Two, because when American Culture became more
defined, European and other countries began to
recognize a distinctive Democratic American culture.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
photographed by Carl van Vechten in 1937
Born
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
September 24, 1896(189609-24)
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Died
December 21, 1940
(aged 44)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation novelist, short story writer, poet
Nationality
American
Period
1940–1920
Genres
Modernism
Literary movement
Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
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Fitzgerald’s life was like the plot of one of his novels.
He was born to a rich family and served in the army as
a lieutenant, but he was never sent to fight in Europe.
Throughout the twenties, he wrote an enormous amount
of fiction which provided the money for many of his
parties and wild-trips to Europe.
His fiction was popular in the twenties because it was
modern and easy to read.
In 1929, the American economy collapsed starting the
Great Depression. This happened at a time when
Fitzgerald himself to have serious mental and physical
health problems.
Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
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Although Fitzgerald, like Nick Carraway in his novel,
The Great Gatsby (1925), idolized the riches and
glamor of the age, he was uncomfortable with the
unrestrained materialism and the lack of morality
that went with it, a kind of decadence.
The novel combines symbolism with psychological
realism. Gatsby, the hero symbolizes the American
belief that money can buy love and happiness. His
failure makes him a tragic hero.
The novel is also famous for its unusual use of colors.
Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway in 1939
Born
July 21, 1899(1899-07-21)
Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Died
July 2, 1961 (aged 61)
Ketchum, Idaho, United States
Nationality
American
Nobel Prize in Literature
Notable award(s) 1954 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction –
1953
Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961)
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Hemingway spoke for the Lost Generation as
Fitzgerald. He drove an ambulance in World War I and
then decided to live in Paris and become a writer.
Hemingway’s simple style and careful structuring of his
fiction is famous. The aim of his style is to “get the most
out of the least.” His sentence are usually short and
simple. Sometimes, he repeats a key phrase for
emphasize his theme. His language is rarely emotional.
On the contrary, it controls emotions and holds them in.
By the thirties, his concentrated style began to lose its
freshness. Part of the problem was that many other
writers were copying his style in their own works.
Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961)
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The Sun Also Rises (1926), is a portrait of young adults of
the post-war era. The characters are young Americans living
Paris. They fought for their country, but they are completely
useless in peacetime. All they want to know is how to live in
the emptiness of the world.
In later writings, Hemingway develops this emptiness to what
becomes known as ‘Nada’ (‘nothingness’ in Spanish). Nada is
sometimes seen as the loss of hope or the inability to
become active in the real world. At other times, it is the
desire for sleep, or an easy death. Hence, Hemingway’s
hero must always fight against the Nada of the world.
Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961)
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Men Without Women (1927), a short collection of short
stories, mixes psychological realism with symbolism.
They are very easy to read. Therefore, readers
sometimes miss their deep meanings.
The Old Man and the Sea (1952), Its an allegory of
human life. This novel received the Pulitzer Prize in
1952. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for
Literature.
As he grew older, he felt his powers as an artist were
failing, so in 1961, he shot himself with his favorite
hunting gun.
John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
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Like other members of the lost generation, Passos
saw the modern, post-war world as ugly and dirty.
According to him only art can save the world and
put an end to destruction.
His first successful modern novel is Manhattan
Transfer (1925), which describes the daily activities
of a large group of people living in New York. In
this novel, he has been influenced by the techniques
of the movies. For example, he uses the montage
technique.’ HOW?
John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
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In the 1930s, Passos published the first volume of his
great ‘U.S.A.’ trilogy. The trilogy shows how
individuals are part of the history of the age in
which they live. All three books: The 42nd Parallel,
1919, and The Big Money use the movie techniques
to tell the history of the entire nation in the early
twentieth century.
The quality of Passos literature began to decline
after his trilogy.
William Faulkner
Faulkner in 1954, photograph by Carl Van Vechten
Born
William Cuthbert Falkner
September 25, 1897(189709-25)
New Albany, Mississippi, USA
Died
July 6, 1962 (aged 64)
Byhalia, Mississippi, USA
Occupation
Novelist, short story writer
Genres
Southern Gothic
Literary movement
Modernism, Stream of
consciousness
Notable award(s) Nobel Prize in Literature, 1949
William Faulkner (1897-1962)
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In his works Faulkner used a small number of characters, who
all represent the South region. They often reaper in later
novels.
Faulkner shared two things with the Lost Generation: (1) its
strong dislike for the post-war world and (2) its belief in the
value of art.
In almost all of Faulkner’s stories, time is treated in a special
way. He uses the ‘continuous present, style of writing. Past,
present and future events are mixed. Hence, it is usually hard
to read his works.
Faulkner’s description of human goodness is as powerful as his
description of human evil. Often his good people are black.
His characters show their goodness in their relationship with
nature and their ability to love.
William Faulkner (1897-1962)
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The Sound and the Fury (1929), is one of his ‘modernist’
masterpieces. There are many experimental features in
this novel. (1)On e feature is the use of limited point of
view. Each of the characters sees reality according to
her\his way.(2) Another feature is his special technique
of narration where the reader is put into the center of
the story without any preparation. Readers must put
together facts together since the author does not help
them.
Light in August (1932), is considered as another
masterpiece. It shows how racism makes the white
community of the South go crazy.
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Modern American Novel Fifth Lecture Mrs. Nouf Al