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The Summer of a Thousand Parties

August 10, 2011

Between the two world wars, Paris was widely seen as the cultural capital of the western world and its artistic and intellectual scene attracted some of the most important American writers of the time.

This expat community, which Gertrude Stein would call the Lost Generation, included among others, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Ezra Pound and John Dos Passos.

Although all different, these writers had in common a sense of moral loss or aimlessness following the devastations of the Great War. Out of their disillusion and rejection of their homeland which they considered oppressive, they built a new literature centered on the themes of self-exile, care-free living and spiritual alienation.

In Paris they found a sense of history, an intellectual openness towards new forms of creativity such as Surrealism, Dadaism and Cubism, a bohemian lifestyle, and sometimes a decadent nightlife they could not find in the US.  Fitzgerald thus described Paris in 1924 as the “summer of a thousand parties.”

These writers lived mostly on the Left Bank, in the Montparnasse district, where their favored meeting places were the Dôme, the Select or the Rotonde. In 1919, Sylvia Beach even opened her own bookstore, the famous Shakespeare and Company which soon became the principal distribution point in the French capital for many of the local English-language publishers and periodicals.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Eva permalink
    August 12, 2011 10:29 am

    Hemingway is without a doubt my favorite writer and I highly recommend “A moveable feast”!

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