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Interwar Years

» The Lost Generation

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Lost Generation Writers

The lost generation refers to a group of disillusioned writers who left their home countries and went to live in Paris during the decade following the end of World War I. Gertrude Stein, one expatriate from America, is usually given credit for their name. While having her car repaired in France, she remarked to a local friend about how good the young auto mechanic was. The friend told her that most boys his age were good workers, except those who had fought in World War I. According to her friend, those in the war had missed out on the years of transition from teenagers to adults so they were une generation perdue (a lost generation).

However, Stein's friend and fellow writer Ernest Hemingway, who used it in the introduction of his novel The Sun Also Rises, popularized the term. While the lost generation originally described W.W.I soldiers who couldn't adjust to postwar life, it later came to refer to the group that spent several years roaming the streets of Paris, living in one-bedroom flats debating the state of world affairs of their day. In addition to Hemingway and Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Beach, John Dos Passos, and Zelda Fitzgerald are some of the other notables that spent time in Paris after the war.

The words of these writers reflected the confusion and hopelessness many people felt after the death and destruction of the war. In particular, many young people were angry and disillusioned since older generations had taught them that good things come to those who lead good lives. The horror of the war made their parents' values seem completely obsolete. Their aimlessness and sense of loss led them to Paris, where they drank heavily and behaved badly. Even so, these wild young adults wrote some of the most celebrated literature and poetry of the modern age.

Answer the following questions from the reading above.

Based on its use in the passage, an expatriate is MOST LIKELY someone who

leaves his/her home country.
writes literature and poetry.
was alive after World War I.
is disillusioned and angry.

The passage suggests that many young people following W.W.I were

writers.
in Paris.
disillusioned.
soldiers.

What word would be a good synonym for obsolete in the third paragraph?

useless
famous
important
disgusting

Which sentence BEST summarizes the main idea of the passage?

The lost generation writers were some of the best of any time period.
Many returning young soldiers just could not adjust to post war life.
Stein and Hemingway were the most famous writers of this time.
World War I had a profound effect on young writers and artists.