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The "Lost Generation" is a term used to characterize a general feeling of disillusionment of American literary notables who lived in Europe, most notably Paris, after the First World War. Figures identified with the "Lost Generation" included authors and artists such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Peirce, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck,Erich Maria Remarque and Cole Porter.

The term was popularized and often credited to author and poet Gertrude Stein. Stein supposedly heard her French garage owner speak of his young auto mechanics, and their poor repair skills, as "une génération perdue."

The term has more recently been used as generic shorthand for groups of young people disproportionately affected by economic shocks, often involving lengthy periods of unemployment, such as those affected by the Financial crisis of 2007–2010.[1][2]. This is partly based on evidence that it can be difficult for those affected to get back into employment when economic activity picks up.

A video by AARP about a "lost generation" has garnered over 10 million views promoting youth empowerment.[3]

Origin of the term

The phrase is attributed to Gertrude Stein[4], then popularized by Ernest Hemingway in the epigraph to his novel The Sun Also Rises and his memoir A Moveable Feast. In the latter he explained "I tried to balance Miss Stein's quotation from the garage owner with one from Ecclesiastes." (A few lines later, recalling the risks and losses of the war, he adds: "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?'") Broadly, the term is often used to refer to the younger literary modernists.

Variously, 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.[citation needed] In Europe, they are mostly known as the "Generation of 1914", for the year World War I began.[5] In France, the country in which many expatriates settled, they were sometimes called the Génération au Feu, the Generation in Flames.[citation needed]

In Britain the term was originally used for those who died in the war,[6] and often implicitly referred to upper-class casualties who were perceived to have died disproportionately, robbing the country of a future elite.[7] Many felt "that 'the flower of youth' and the 'best of the nation' had been destroyed," for example such notable casualties as the poets Isaac Rosenberg, Rupert Brooke, and Wilfred Owen,[8] composer George Butterworth and physicist Henry Moseley.

Notes

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The "Lost Generation" is a term used to refer to the generation, actually an age cohort, 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.

In "A Movable Feast," which was published after Hemingway and Stein had had a famous feud and fallen apart, and indeed after they were both dead, Hemingway reveals that the phrase was actually originated by the garage owner who repaired Stein's car. When a young mechanic failed to repair the car in a way satisfactory to Stein the owner had shouted at him, "You are all a generation perdue." [1] Stein, in telling Hemingway the story added, "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." [2]

The term therefore can not and does not refer to all of the expatriate artists who lived in Paris after WWI. It clearly, as is seen from the original quote as reported by Hemingway, refers to his generation, those who were members of the age classes which were called to duty in the "Great War." This generation included distinguished artists such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Waldo Peirce, Alan Seeger, and, Erich Maria Remarque. It has alternately been used to describe the generation which participated in the Cultural Revolution in China.

Contents

In literature

File:GertrudeStein JackHemingway
Gertrude Stein with Ernest Hemingway's son, Jack Hemingway (nicknamed Bumby) in 1924. Stein is credited with bringing the term "Lost Generation" into use.

The term originated with Gertrude Stein who, after being particularly impressed by the skills of a young car mechanic, asked the garage owner where the young man had been trained. The garage owner told her that young men were easy to train, it was those in their mid-twenties to thirties, those men who had been through WWI, who the garage owner considered a "lost generation" – une génération perdue.[3]

The 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises popularized the term, as Hemingway used it as an epigraph. The Sun Also Rises epitomized the post-war expatriate generation,[4] which according to Hemingway biographer and scholar Jeffrey Meyers, is "recognized as Hemingway's greatest work".[5] However, Hemingway himself later wrote to his editor Max Perkins that the "point of the book" was not so much about a generation being lost, but that "the earth abideth forever"; he believed the characters in The Sun Also Rises may have been "battered" but were not lost.[6]

In his memoir A Moveable Feast he writes "I tried to balance Miss Stein's quotation from the garage owner with one from Ecclesiastes." A few lines later, recalling the risks and losses of the war, he adds: "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?'"

Other uses

Variously, 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. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, well known for their generational theory, define the Lost Generation as the cohorts born from 1893 to 1900, who came of age during WWI and the roaring twenties.[7] In Europe, they are mostly known as the "Generation of 1914", for the year World War I began.[8] In France, the country in which many expatriates settled, they were sometimes called the Génération au Feu, the Generation in Flames.

In Britain the term was originally used for those who died in the war,[9] and often implicitly referred to upper-class casualties who were perceived to have died disproportionately, robbing the country of a future elite.[10] Many felt "that 'the flower of youth' and the 'best of the nation' had been destroyed," for example such notable casualties as the poets Isaac Rosenberg, Rupert Brooke, and Wilfred Owen,[11] composer George Butterworth and physicist Henry Moseley.

In China, the "Lost Generation" can describe the young Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), or the generation after them. The Red Guards were "lost" by the failure of the Cultural Revolution and their alienation by the zeitgeist's shift against ultra-leftism and in favor of Chinese economic reform.[12] The label of "Lost Generation" is also applied in China to the generation of the very young during the Cultural Revolution, as they spent much of their early childhood learning slogans, ideology, and self-criticism instead of content knowledge.[13]

Notes

  1. ^ Ernest Hemingway, A Movable Feast, Touchstone, New York: 1996, p29
  2. ^ Ibid
  3. ^ Mellow, Charmed Circle, p. 273
  4. ^ Mellow 1992, p. 302
  5. ^ Meyers 1985, p. 192
  6. ^ Baker 1972, p. 82
  7. ^ Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (1991). Generations: The History of Americas Future. 1584 to 2069. New York: William Morrow and Company. pp. 247-260. ISBN 0-688-11912-3. 
  8. ^ Wohl, Robert (1979). The generation of 1914. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-34466-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=YLe3e3FDXQkC&lpg=PA1&ots=WUYVCZyXIi&dq=wohl%201914&lr=&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  9. ^ "The Lost Generation: the myth and the reality", Aftermath - when the boys came home, accessed 6 November 2009.
  10. ^ J. M. Winter, Britain's 'Lost Generation' of the First World War, 1977
  11. ^ BBC Schools Online
  12. ^ Calhoun, Craig; Wasserstrom, Jeffrey N. (2003). "The Cultural Revolution and the Democracy Movement of 1989: Complexity in Historical Connections". In Law, Kam-yee. The Chinese cultural revolution reconsidered: beyond purge and holocaust. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 247. ISBN 9780333738351. http://books.google.com/books?id=_vFnU_bqVh8C&pg=PA247. 
  13. ^ He, Ming Fang (2003). A river forever flowing: cross-cultural lives and identities in the multicultural landscape. Information Age Publishing. pp. 54–55. ISBN 9781593110772. http://books.google.com/books?id=YFkx41kszGUC&pg=PA54. 

Sources

  • Meyers, Jeffrey (1985). Hemingway: A Biography. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-42126-4. 
  • Hemingway, Ernest (1996). A Movable Feast. New York: Touchstone. ISBN 0-684-82499-X. 
  • Mellow, James R. (1992). Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-37777-3. 
  • Mellow, James R. (1991). Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395479827. 


Simple English

The "Lost Generation" is a term used to describe a number of American writers and artists who went to live in Europe after the First World War. People associated with the Lost Generation include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson and John Steinbeck.

The term has also been used more recently to describe those unable to find work after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Origin of the term

The writer and poet Gertrude Stein is often considered to have come up with the term[1] She supposedly heard her French garage owner speak of his unskilled young workers as "une generation perdue" (a generation lost). Ernest Hemingway then used the term in the introduction to his novel The Sun Also Rises.

The term is generally used for the period from the end of the First World War to the beginning of the Great Depression.

Meaning

After the First World War, members of the Lost Generation decided that they did not want to live a normal life in America. They went to Europe, often Paris. Away from America, the Lost Generation often drank heavily, had affairs and tried to find meaning in life. The Lost Generation produced some of the finest writing of all time, and arguably created a new style of writing.

Notes

  1. As described by Hemingway in the chapter "Une Generation Perdue," of A Moveable Feast, the term was coined by the owner of the Paris garage where Gertrude Stein took her car, and was picked up and translated by her.

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