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The Lost Generation

An Introduction to the Movement Medford High School English Department For use by all teachers May 2012

The Lost Generation

• • “That is what you are. That’s what you all are…all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.” - Gertrude Stein “Who is calling who a lost generation?” - Ernest Hemingway Pictured: Gertrude Stein with Ernest Hemingway’s son, Jack

Essential Questions for the Unit

• • How do writers employ tone, symbolism, and other literary techniques to convey a theme in American literature of the early 1900s?

How does this literature reflect the American experience after World War I?

The Lost Generation

• • • Term used to describe the generation of writers active immediately after World War I (post 1920s) Gertrude Stein became famous for the using the phrase, borrowed from a car mechanic’s criticism of twenty-year-old slackers The phrase signifies a disillusioned postwar generation characterized by… ▫ Lost values ▫ Lost belief in the idea of human progress ▫ A mood of futility and despair leading to hedonism

• • • • •

What else makes something a “Lost Generation” story?

• • • Economy of Language Presence of War (overt or implied) “Iceberg Theory” ▫ You have to make inferences Symbolism – colors, nature, etc.

Alcohol Jazz Influence of European culture, art, etc.

Rejection of Victorian era style

Famous Writers of the Movement

• • The Lost Generation mostly includes expatriate writers who left the United States for Europe after WWI: ▫ Ernest Hemingway ▫ F. Scott Fitzgerald ▫ T.S. Eliot ▫ Ezra Pound You could also include writers who were heavily influenced by these writers and/or WWI: ▫ William Carlos Williams ▫ Wilfred Owen

In a Station of the Metro

What does this imagery suggest?

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

How prominent is Icarus in this painting? What is the message that is conveyed?


• What defines our generation?

▫ Music genres ▫ The quintessential writers ▫ Life-altering events ▫ Developments in technology ▫ Human rights

Tonight’s Homework

• • • • Do a little internet research on the Lost Generation.

Write a side-by-side bullet point comparison of the Lost Generation and our generation.

Shoot for at least ten points, and try to have each column correspond with the other.

Cite your sources.


• Information from www.pbs.org



and was used in the creation of this

Added information for Ms. Sanford’s English classes…

Edna St. Vincent Millay

• • • • • • • 1892-1950 Nickname “Vincent” Grew up in Maine; spent time in NYC (Greenwich Village); travelled to France First female to receive Pulitzer Prize (poetry) Playwright, poet, & actor Experimental and independent Multiple relationships: married Eugen Boissevain (self-proclaimed feminist)

“What Lips my Lips have Kissed”

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, I have forgotten, and what arms have lain Under my head till morning; but the rain Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh Upon the glass and listen for reply, And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain For unremembered lads that not again Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: I cannot say what loves have come and gone, I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more.

By: Ernest Hemingway

“Good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you.... If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

• No college degree; journalism apprenticeship • Personal life influenced literature • Ambulance driver WWI • Liked (watching) bullfighting and hunting • Exaggerated own life (relationships, skills, etc.).

• Takes his life (shotgun infliction)


Beginning The Sun Also Rises

Read the first three paragraphs of the novel.

Jot down a list of details that stand out from your reading and questions you have.

As you read, try to look for connections and important details.

Class Review: What do we notice about the writing style? How does it relate to the novel’s topic?

Ernest Hemingway Interview in the

Paris Review

• What do you notice about Hemingway’s writing space? What stands out about the description?

• What are your reactions to Hemingway’s comments about characters?

• In what ways do you see Hemingway’s responses relate to writing in The Sun Also Rises?

The Great Gatsby Introduction…

Write down all the words that come to mind about the following objects that are associated with The Great Gatsby and/or the 1920s.

East Egg: inherited richness (Tom Buchanan) vs. West Egg: “new money” (Jay Gatsby)

F. Scott Fitzgerald

• Born 1896; Died in 1940 • Named after creator (and relative) of “The Star Spangled Banner” • Lieutenant in WWI (end of war) • Married Zelda (she was interested in money & power; refused to marry Fitzgerald unless he had these qualities)

The Great Gatsby Overview

• • • Published in 1925 Nick Carraway; Jay Gatsby Only sold 20,000 copies in first year • -many female readers -more well known during WWII (150,000 copies sent to the American army) Fitzgerald inspired to write about old vs. new money after moving with family in 1922 to Great Neck, NY (Long Island) http://mentalfloss.com/article/50822/24-great-gatsby-facts

Jay Gatsby’s mansion was based off of real ones such as this Oheka Castle (New York).