Monday, March 17, 2014

The Lost Generation: Here's Why I Care

From Flickr
This is not the first time that I have written a "Here's Why I Care Post" for Dr. Burton's class. I feel like it is the best way to be able to get my ideas out of my mind and into the air. I chose to do this whole assignment on Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises for a few reasons. Obviously, I like the book and I enjoy reading it. The prose is fluent and acute. I relate to the characters and secretly envy their passions for adventure and whimsical decision making. I catch myself drifting into their world and I wonder if I wouldn't make some of the same mistakes. The story feels real and it gives me a certain freedom that I seldom find in contemporary novels.

The most interesting aspect of Hemingway's novel to me is the idea of the Lost Generation. For those who are not familiar with it, the Lost Generation is a term coined by Gertrud Stein and used often by Ernest Hemingway. It describes the generation of young people who fought in the Great War and lived a life of excess and grandeur after. Many of the greatest poets and writers of all time (e.g. T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc.) came from this Lost Generation.

The idea behind the term is that after the war, these people were subject to a changing world. They suffered the consequences that stemmed from the horrors of the Great War, and they often felt disenfranchised from society. They struggled with identity, and they often went searching for it in all the wrong places. Ernest Hemingway used the term to describe the situation of the characters in his book--the very characters he used to epitomize the world in which he lived.

As I sift through my ideas regarding the Lost Generation, I come to a crossroads. There are some questions that I need to ask. If I believe that the Lost Generation suffered from their situation, I have to accept the fact that they were acted upon and had no choice to be anything other than immoral thrill seekers. I'm not sure if I'm ready to believe that. I could also argue that it was the very Lost Generation that caused the culture of excess and grandeur that led to a loss of identity and innocence. In other words, the same people created their situation with their actions, regardless of their circumstances. This idea seems unlikely to me since I can't see any logical reason to disregard the fact that the world was changing and was greatly affected by the War.

As I type this post, I am also considering another option. I believe that it is possible that the Lost Generation wasn't lost at all. Ernest Hemingway loved the idea that "the earth abideth forever." He found this phrase in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Hemingway argued that the nature of humankind is resilient. He argued that his characters--and to a further extent, his peers--were not, in fact, lost, but battered. He argued that their identity remained in tact as they suffered at the hands of their circumstances.

I'm still not entirely sure where I am going with these ideas, and I feel like I am rambling. For that, I apologize. However, I feel like I am getting somewhere with my ideas. The first few paragraphs of my paper are written, but I feel like I could change them at any minute. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what form my ideas take and how I decide to represent them.


  1. I think that the profiling of the "Lost Generation" has a lot to say not only about the background of those authors, but also the materials from which their books were made. One suggestion is that you could use both Hemingway's and Carroll's books to illustrate the different value systems of the times. I'm excited to see what you produce!

  2. Look up!