World War I was a disastrous event for the entire world leaving behind over 9 million deaths. The youngsters who went through such an event that divided the world into two big armies received the name of The Lost Generation.
“This term was applied to artists of all kinds that emigrated from the US to Europe after the war.”
Many of them ended up or lived briefly in Montparnasse for it was the center of the cultural universe of that time. Read on as we unveil the details of some of the great writers of this lost generation.
Henry Miller is an American writer that emigrated to France between 1930 and 1939. He was famous for his take-no-prisoners approach to hyperreality working; before Henry Miller, the world had never experienced such a style.
“His first book, “Tropic of Cancer” was banned from several countries on the accusation of being pornographic and of bad taste.”
With time, he rose to fame and set the ground for later generations to come and develop his style even further, they were to be called Beatniks. After his stay in France, Henry Miller went back to the USA where he lived in California until his death in 1980, he was 88 years old.
Virginia Woolf is, perhaps, feminism most iconic writer of The Lost Generation. She was in Montparnasse in 1908 and it was during her trip to France that she discovered her fate as a writer.
She was not alone, she was with family but had to end her trip abruptly due to mental complications. While she was traveling France and Italy, she was also completing the work for her first novel “The Voyage Out” that was to come out in 1915.
“The writer´s tragic death at age 59 (she committed suicide by walking into River Ouse with stones in the pockets of her coat.”
Writing a body of work such as “Ulysses” (1922) should be enough to place this great Irish author in the pantheon of the greatest of all times. He was a writer in all forms: he wrote poetry, essays, critique, novels, plays, did journalism and his talent was equally divided among these styles.
He moved to Paris to finish Ulysses in 1920. He finished it and did most of the work for “Finnegans Wake”. Finally, in 1940 when the Nazi occupation took over France, James Joyce flee towards Zurich where he would perish one year later in 1941.
“It is said that Paris and Montparnasse really affected his writing.”
Without this novelist, poet, playwright and art collector figure, many of the most prominent figures of The Lost Generation wouldn´t have existed.
She moved to Paris in 1903 and was the host of a salon where personalities like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse would meet and chat. Also, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and many more made her place their place.
“She was a lesbian and one of the first female authors to write about the topic.”
In her novel “Q.E.D.” she displays a romantic affair among women portraying some of her friends. Stein was the author to coin the term “Lost Generation” and never went back to the USA; she died in France at 72 years old.
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The Lost Generation was to inspire many writers to come and change the way we think of literature.
These authors walked the streets of Montparnasse a long time ago and contributed their magic to the place; they are no longer here, but their spirit lives on their work making Montparnasse a more symbolic place.