Lost Generation
Overview
 
The "Lost Generation" is a term used to refer to the generation, actually a cohort
Cohort (statistics)
In statistics and demography, a cohort is a group of subjects who have shared a particular time together during a particular time span . Cohorts may be tracked over extended periods in a cohort study. The cohort can be modified by censoring, i.e...

, that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 who used it as one of two contrasting epigraphs for his novel, The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early and enduring modernist novel, it received...

.
In that volume Hemingway credits the phrase to Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein was an American writer, poet and art collector who spent most of her life in France.-Early life:...

, who was then his mentor and patron.

In A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast is a set of memoirs by American author Ernest Hemingway about his years in Paris as part of the American expatriate circle of writers in the 1920s. The book describes Hemingway's apprenticeship as a young writer in Europe during the 1920s with his first wife, Hadley...

, which was published after Hemingway and Stein were both dead and after a literary feud that lasted much of their life, Hemingway reveals that the phrase was actually originated by the garage owner who serviced Stein's car.
Encyclopedia
The "Lost Generation" is a term used to refer to the generation, actually a cohort
Cohort (statistics)
In statistics and demography, a cohort is a group of subjects who have shared a particular time together during a particular time span . Cohorts may be tracked over extended periods in a cohort study. The cohort can be modified by censoring, i.e...

, that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 who used it as one of two contrasting epigraphs for his novel, The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early and enduring modernist novel, it received...

.
In that volume Hemingway credits the phrase to Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein was an American writer, poet and art collector who spent most of her life in France.-Early life:...

, who was then his mentor and patron.

In A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast is a set of memoirs by American author Ernest Hemingway about his years in Paris as part of the American expatriate circle of writers in the 1920s. The book describes Hemingway's apprenticeship as a young writer in Europe during the 1920s with his first wife, Hadley...

, which was published after Hemingway and Stein were both dead and after a literary feud that lasted much of their life, Hemingway reveals that the phrase was actually originated by the garage owner who serviced Stein's car. When a young mechanic failed to repair the car in a way satisfactory to Stein, the owner shouted at her, "You are all a generation perdu." 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." This generation included distinguished artists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

, T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

, John Dos Passos
John Dos Passos
John Roderigo Dos Passos was an American novelist and artist.-Early life:Born in Chicago, Illinois, Dos Passos was the illegitimate son of John Randolph Dos Passos , a distinguished lawyer of Madeiran Portuguese descent, and Lucy Addison Sprigg Madison of Petersburg, Virginia. The elder Dos Passos...

, Waldo Peirce
Waldo Peirce
Waldo Peirce was an American painter, born in Bangor, Maine.Peirce was both a prominent painter and a well-known character. He was sometimes called "the American Renoir"...

, Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger was an American poet who fought and died in World War I serving in the French Foreign Legion. A statue to his memory and to...

, and Erich Maria Remarque
Erich Maria Remarque
Erich Maria Remarque was a German author, best known for his novel All Quiet on the Western Front.-Life and work:...

.

In literature

The term originated with Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein was an American writer, poet and art collector who spent most of her life in France.-Early life:...

 who, after being unimpressed 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 while young men were easy to train, it was those in their mid-twenties to thirties, the men who had been through World War I, who he considered a "lost generation" – une génération perdue.

The 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early and enduring modernist novel, it received...

popularized the term, as Hemingway used it as an epigraph
Epigraph (literature)
In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional...

. The Sun Also Rises epitomized the post-war expatriate generation. 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.

In his memoir A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast is a set of memoirs by American author Ernest Hemingway about his years in Paris as part of the American expatriate circle of writers in the 1920s. The book describes Hemingway's apprenticeship as a young writer in Europe during the 1920s with his first wife, Hadley...

, published after his death, he writes "I tried to balance Miss Stein's quotation from the garage owner with one from Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes
The Book of Ecclesiastes, called , is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The English name derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title.The main speaker in the book, identified by the name or title Qoheleth , introduces himself as "son of David, king in Jerusalem." The work consists of personal...

." 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
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, though in the United States it is used for the generation
Generation
Generation , also known as procreation in biological sciences, is the act of producing offspring....

 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
William Strauss
William Strauss was an American author, historian, playwright, theater director, and lecturer. As a historian, he is known for his work with Neil Howe on social generations and for their theory of generational cycles in American history...

 and Neil Howe
Neil Howe
Neil Howe is an American historian, economist, and demographer. He is best known for his work with William Strauss on social generations and generational cycles in American history. He is currently the president of LifeCourse Associates, a consulting company he founded with Strauss to apply...

, well known for their generational theory
Strauss-Howe generational theory
The Strauss-Howe generational theory, created by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, identifies a recurring generational cycle in American history. Strauss and Howe lay the groundwork for the theory in their 1991 book Generations, which retells the history of America as a series of...

, define the Lost Generation as the cohorts born from 1883 to 1900, who came of age during World War I and the roaring twenties. In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, they are mostly known as the "Generation of 1914," for the year World War I began. In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan 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, and often implicitly referred to upper-class casualties who were perceived to have died disproportionately, robbing the country of a future elite. 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
Isaac Rosenberg
Isaac Rosenberg was an English poet of the First World War who was considered to be one of the greatest of all English war poets...

, Rupert Brooke
Rupert Brooke
Rupert Chawner Brooke was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, especially The Soldier...

, and Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War...

, composer George Butterworth
George Butterworth
George Sainton Kaye Butterworth, MC was an English composer best known for the orchestral idyll The Banks of Green Willow and his song settings of A. E...

 and physicist Henry Moseley
Henry Moseley
Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley was an English physicist. Moseley's outstanding contribution to the science of physics was the justification from physical laws of the previous empirical and chemical concept of the atomic number. This stemmed from his development of Moseley's law in X-ray spectra...

.

Further reading

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