The Lost Generation
Modernism (1900-1950)
 Response to industrialization, WWI,
major economic changes, world politics–
the stuff that made us all what we are
 Society (and literature) full of
contradictory elements (both free and
repressed, both traditional and antitraditional, democratic and elitist,
patriotic and critical)
 The individual is alienated from others
and even him/herself
 Alienation leads to awareness about
one’s inner life
The Lost Generation
"you are all a lost generation"
(Gertrude Stein said to Ernest Hemingway)
 The intellectuals, artists, and writers who rejected the
values of post WWI America and moved to Paris
 They searched for meaning, drank excessively, had
love affairs, and created some of the best American
 One of the first “countercultures”
 Earliest expressers of the themes of spiritual
alienation, self-exile, and cultural criticism
 The fact that so many great minds ex-patriated and
then made art out of it should show there was
something wrong with the “American Dream”
Lost Generation
 Gertrude Stein
 WWI; propaganda; language untrustworthy
 Hemingway’s style=iceberg, omission of
details and adjectives; deceptively simple
 Expatriates escape wounds of war through
drinking, sex, danger
 Death = end, nada, inevitable
 War = perpetual battle that cannot be won,
but surviving is a game of formal moves
(code hero)
Prose Style
Importance of Syntactical Choices
 Colloquial; short,
common words,
simplicity of diction
and sentence structure
 Writer provides stimuli
not answers to readers
who must make their
own interpretations
 “Mindless” in some
ways like Huck,
understatement, oversimplified
Hemingway poses with his
family in Oak Park 1916 and
his favorite English teacher.
On Writing
 Like Hawthorne writing becomes boring and
rehashed: “humans linger and haunt
ghostlike the spot of some great event and
especially those with darker significance.”
 Old Man: Hemingway’s career like
Santiago; nothing significant in last 9 years
after that; then he wins Pulitzer
 Nobel 1954: “powerful self forming
mastery of the art of narration”
 Tragic vision of
 Man v. fear,
himself, death
 How does man
handle death?
 Physical reaction
and courage or
retreat into rituals?
 Mindless, over-simplified, no moral
resources, react like animals caught in trap,
no social commitment or concern for
masses, only one’s personal relationship
with death
 Women = playmates who give pleasure, no
intent on man’s part to love or commit to
them; dominate men with wealth which is
venomous and emasculating
Hemingway’s Women
(Clockwise from top left: The
nurse he fell in love with in WWI, 1st wife, 2nd wife, 3rd wife, 4th wife)
“In Our Time”
 “Give peace in our time, O Lord” because there is no
peace in life
 Key to all works
 Development of Nick Adams through short stories
 “Indian Camp” = effect on young boy who is later a
badly scarred young man; discussion of suicide (Hem
in 1960; father 1928); preoccupation with violence
and death
 WWI and Nick = physically and psychologically
wounded; makes separate peace with enemy; wound
intensifies and epitomizes earlier wounds while
growing up
Stories and Novels
 “Big Two-Hearted
River” = fishing to
escape/recover from
shell shock
 “Fathers and Sons” =
troubled by thoughts
of father’s death
 “A Way You’ll Never
Be” = goes out of his
 For Whom the Bell
Tolls = “no man
stands alone”
 Old Man and the Sea =
“You lose of course;
what counts is how
you conduct yourself”
 The Sun Also Rises =
1st true novel; futility
of life; sun rises and
goes back to its origin
 A Farewell to Arms =
man is trapped
biologically and
Quotes by Hemingway
 “On the Star, you were forced to learn to
write a simple declarative sentence. That’s
useful to anyone.”
 “I had no more loyal friend than Scott
Fitzgerald when he was sober.”
 “The world breaks everyone and afterwards
many are strong at the broken places. But
those that will not break it kills. It kills the
very good and the very gentle and the very
brave impartially. If you are none of these
you can be sure it will kill you too but there
will be no special hurry.”
Quotes by Hemingway cont.
 “There is no lonelier man,” he wrote
in a discarded draft of his Nobel
acceptance speech, “than the writer
when he is writing except the suicide.
Nor is there any happier, nor more
exhausted man when he has written
well . . . and he faces another
morning when he must do it again.”
Hemingway v. Fitzgerald
In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” (Esquire 8/1936), Ernest
Hemingway said that "poor Scott Fitzgerald" was
"wrecked" by his "romantic awe" of the rich. The comment
referred to Fitzgerald’s series, “The Crack-Up” stores, also
in Esquire where he talked about his “emotional
bankruptcy” and feelings of failure. Fitzgerald and
Hemingway were rivals and sometimes friends. In a letter
to Hemingway he responded, "Please lay off me in print. If
I choose to write de profundis sometimes it doesn't mean
I want friends praying aloud over my corpse."
When Scribners published “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in a
collection in 1938, editor Maxwell Perkins insisted that
Fitzgerald’s first name be changed from “Scott” to
Hemingway Writing in Kenya
Hemingway’s Farm in Cuba
Hemingway’s Six-toed Cats
Hemingway’s Home
in Key West

Hemingway - James B. Conant High School