The Lost Generation- Expatriate American Authors in Paris / Summary

By: Sara R.


  • Arrival of Benjamin Franklin – 1776 in an effort to win the support of France for the colonies. Franklin remained in Paris for nine years. Then, he returned to Philadelphia in 1785
  • Henry James was the first to create the image of a talented literary artist who was ready to foreswear his citizenship
  • He travelled to Italy and France - he became close friends with Edith Wharton
  • They were the ‘in’ cosmopolitans
  • The Sun also Rises (Hemingway)-1926 and The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)-1925. These books are prominent examples of the literary criticism that Americans were directing at their homeland from abroad
  • A vast majority of the participants were writers, artists or intellectuals. This study investigates the socio-political factors , and the disillusionment that resulted from America’s involvement in World War I
  • Gertrude Stein: Paris was where the Twentieth Century was
  • Hemingway and Fitzgerald represent different aspects of the expatriate experience

Similar Characteristics between the Works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald

  • Disillusionment with the American lifestyle portraying and identifying its characteristics and negative consequences
  • A society that has lost its ethical bearings
  • Comment unfavorably on the socio-political climate in the USA
  • Moral confusion- Money becomes the principal measurement
  • Chapter four: ‘ The Sun also Rises’ focuses on a group of expatriates in Paris and on trip to Spain. This chapter analyzes the loss of values experienced by the postwar generation, capitalism, the American legislation of morals, and the search of values not based on commerce.
  • The Great Gatsby- A wealthy community on Long Island. Fitzgerald’s disillusionment are based on money, wealth, materialism, corruption, moral disorder in America, and the enshrinement of commerce as a new religion
  • The authors disillusionment with the lifestyle of their homeland

The Expatriate Artist Community in France

The ‘Lost Generation’ of American expatriates

  • Ishbel Ross- The artists and writers have fed the expatriate flame seeking the atmosphere of tradition.
  • Ross states that: ‘it was authors like Hemingway and Fitzgerald who shook up the literary world. The Americans who went to France after the War iswhat Gertrude described as: ‘ The Lost Generation’
  • It was a Lost Generation because members of the Generation felt lost in an America devoted to materialism and the cult of the dollar
  • World War I had an impact among young and idealistic people. Especially, young writers who enlisted in ambulance corps
  • After the war ended, young intellectuals faced a return home that was disenchanting due to the rising commercialism
  • During the early 1990’s America was becoming urban- Machine era
  • The focus on commerce and materialism- a community with roots and individuality
  • Saving in order to accumulate capital for new enterprises
  • Fitzgerald: The Jazz Age, The Roaring Twenties or the Boom. He was a symbol of that Age
  • Hemingway in ‘The Sun also Rises’ expressed his rejection towards the obsession with money in American Society also in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
  • Mass exodus of writers and artists
  • Writers complained that the whole of American culture was becoming false and that hypocrisy had come to pervade the entire system
  • James Joyce’s – Ulysses with four hundred copies was burnt in America in 1922 and it was not officially allowed in until 1933. USA had become a communist country and many intellectuals exiled from the country they resided. Furthermore, U.S.A. had not interest in fostering the creative spirit. The expatriates found America : ‘politically naïve, puritanically restrictive and culturally deprived’ . If an artist wanted to preserve his talent he must leave the country

Paris as the Center of the Expatriate Community.

  • Paris as a new home
  • Paris was cosmopolitan and carried the artistic independence
  • Freedom and independence of the American expatriates
  • They were foreigners and this contributed to their sense of liberation
  • It was possible to live well with a small amount of money
  • They could be famous thanks to the released of important magazines such as: Contact, Broom, Transition and This Quarter- These were free from censorship
  • By the end of 1921, expatriates called Paris: home
  • By 1924, the city’s permanent population was thirty thousand and rising
  • Fitzgerald was Ambassador of Literature at Paris and, together with Hemingway entertained the public at the Ritz Bar