Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s


Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s Malcolm Cowley Grew Up In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, And Interrupted His Undergraduate Career At Harvard To Drive A Camion During World War I He Moved To New York City In 1919 And Worked As An Editor Of The New Republic From 1929 To 1940 He Served As President Of The National Institute Of Arts And Letters From 1956 To 1959 And From 1962 To 1965 And Was Chancellor Of The American Academy Of Arts And Letters From 1966 To 1976 He Wrote Numerous Books Of Literary Criticism, Essays, And Poetry, And Edited Many Collections And Anthologies Among His Many Awards And Honors Were The Gold Medal For Belles Lettres And Criticism From The American Academy And Institute Of Arts And Letters And The Hubbell Medal Of The Modern Language Association For Service To The Study Of American Literature.Donald W Faulkner Is The Editor Of Malcolm Cowleys The Flower And The Leaf A Contemporary Record Of American Writing Since 1945 1985 And The Portable Malcolm Cowley 1990 He Has Written Extensively On Cowley For Literary Journals, And Was A Fellow At The Newberry Library In Chicago, Where Cowleys Papers Are Housed Faulkner Teaches Literature And Creative Writing At Yale University.EXILES RETURNA LITERARY ODYSSEY OF THE 1920SMALCOLM COWLEYEDITED AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BYDONALD W FAULKNERIntroductionAmong The Chronicles, Memoirs, And Remembrances Of The Making Of American Literature In The 1920s, Malcolm Cowleys Exiles Return Stands Alone Far From The We Put On Boxing Gloves And Ernest Hemingway Broke My Nose Recollections Of That Shaping Period For A National Literature, Cowleys Work Is A Narrative Of Ideas, As He Subtitled The Original Edition Of His Book, Published In 1934 Save For A Handful Of Anecdotes, The Book Is Not An Accumulation Of Silvered Memories, But A Meditative Exploration Of The Design And Goals Of Literary Culture.It Is A Book Written By A Young Man About A Young Time, And Its Extolling Of A Young Generations Ability To Cast Off The Baggage Of Its Forebears And Forge Its Own Identity Has Quickened The Hearts Of Generations Of Readers Who Have Found Resonance In Its Story It Continues To Speak Indeed, Exiles Return Is Not So Much About Paris In The 1920s As It Is About The Exemplary Revolt Of One Generation Against Its Predecessors In The Effort To Establish Itself.Much Later In His LifeCowley Died In 1989 At Age Ninety After A Distinguished Career In American Letters, The Bulk Of It Spent Shaping Our Estimations Of American Literaturehe Wrote Of The Preconditions He Saw For Both Generational Self Identification And Generational Revolt First Among Them, He Said, Is A Sense Of Life, Something That Might Be Defined As An Intricate Web Of Perceptions, Judgments, Feelings, And Aspirations Shared By Its Members Next Is The Generations Thoroughness And Even Violence In Setting Aside Parental Or Merely Prevailing Notions Then Each Generation Needs To Acknowledge Its Precursorsmadmen And Outlaws, As Cowley Called Them Borrowing F Scott Fitzgeralds Phrase , Who Give An Intellectual Structure To The Generations Own Rebellionand Must Also Witness Or Participate In Historic Events, Which Furnish Its Members With A Common Fund Of Experience Finally, Cowley Stipulated Onceechoing F Scott Fitzgerald , The Generation Needs Its Own Leaders And Spokesmen I Hasten To Add Another Element That Cowley Perhaps Took As A Given The Group Must Feel In Some Fashion Betrayed By Both Prevailing Notions And Historic Events, In Order, If Only Through Alienation, To Generate Both The Intricate Web And The Common Fund Of Experience.Although Cowley Was Speaking Broadly, His Prescriptions Match The Characterization Early In Exiles Return Of His Own Lost Generation Absent A Vivid Awareness Of The Generations Precursors Or Spokesmenthey Were To Be Identified Presentlythe Preconditions Cowley Later Nominated Were All Present Particularly Powerful, As Cowley Presents The Making Of Exiles In Exiles Return, Was The Sense Of Betrayal First, The Lost Generation Was Brought To Alienation By Its Education It Was Uprooted, Cowley Writes, Schooled Away And Almost Wrenched Away From Its Attachment To Any Region Or Tradition This Was Education As Deracination As A Young Man, Cowley Says, He Was Not Being Prepared For Citizenship Or A Role In The Common Life Of America, But Was Instead Exhorted To Enter That International Republic Of Learning Whose Traditions Are Those Of Athens, Florence, Paris, Berlin, And Oxford The Bitterness Expressed In These Statements Is Quite Different From The Hymn To Childhood Cowley Presents In The Opening To His First Chapter, As Though There He Is Recalling Home Ground Like Candide, Who Embarks Upon A Journey Navely And With The Best Of Intentions, Only To Be Rudely Shocked.The Protagonist Of This Journeys Story Was Not Only Cowley, But An Entire Prewar Literary Generation Trained For A World That Existed Largely In Books, Many Of This Generation Volunteered Before Americas Entry Into World War I For Wartime Service In A Europe That No Longer Existed The Slaughters At Chemin Des Dames, The Morass Of Passchendaele, And The Rout Of The Italian Army At Caporetto, Among Many Other Battles, Profoundly Altered This Literary Generations Sense Of Both Itself And The World As Cowley Puts It, The Generation Belonged To A Period Of Transition From Values Already Fixed To Values That Had To Be Created.Moreover, Upon Returning To The States From The War, Whose End Was Declared With The November 11, 1918, Armistice, The Uprooted Found Themselves Exiles In Their Own Land, Spectators Of A Culture They Had No Hand In Creating, And Disenfranchised Socially, Economically, And Politically Boosterism, A New Conformity, Was Dominant After Sinclair Lewiss Social Satire Babbitt Appeared In 1922, Babbittry Became The Moniker For This Pecuniary Vision Of Repressive Progress Those Whose Values Didnt Match The Norm Were Suspect The Ku Klux Klan Had Begun Its Northern Migration, The Palmer Raids Had Begun Rounding Up Supposed Radicals Including The Soon To Be Celebrated Sacco And Vanzetti , Labor Organizing Efforts Were Trounced In Seattle And In The Coal, Rail, And Steel Industries, And The Eighteenth Amendment To The Constitution, Instituting Prohibition, Had Been Passed Progress And Power Were Praised, Intellect And Ideas Were Not Cynically, After Disillusioning Trips Home Where Challenging Work Was Not To Be Found, Many Of Cowleys Ilk Migrated To New York, Particularly Greenwich Village, Where They Worked Bad Jobs, Lived In Coldwater Flats, And Generally Refound Each Other With A Shared Net Of Ideasessentially, Down With The Hypocrisy Of Business And Up With The Sanctity Of Artand A Common Rejection Of Contemporary Values, They Forged A Bond Cowley, Thinking Back To The War, Calls It The Long Furlough Given Their Bleak Prospects, Many Of This Lost Generation Began To Think It Might Not Be A Bad Idea Simply To Repack Their Bags, This Time With Civilian Clothes, And Head Back To France, Where The Exchange Rate Favored The Dollar And The Culture Confirmed The Images Their Educations Had Fed Them.When In 1921 Harold Stearns, A Young Intellectual Seven Years Cowleys Elder, Decided To Abandon America For Paris, His Departure Confirmed A Vacuum Suction Of Expatriation By American Artists And Writers To Europe Stearns Had Written America And The Young Intellectual, And Edited Civilization In The United States, A Symposium Comprising Essays By Thirty Significant Contributors Whose Findings About The Nation Echoed A Remark Of Gertrude Steins On Oakland, California There Is No There There Cowley Sums Up The Symposiums Findings In A Sentence Life In This Country Is Joyless And Colorless, Universally Standardized, Tawdry, Uncreative, Given Over To The Worship Of Wealth And Machinery The Exodus Was Self Appointed And Far From Permanent The Writers And Artists Who Preceded And Followed Stearns To Europe Were Less Exiles Than Sojourners Away For A While, But Never Fully Divesting Themselves Of Their American Identities.As Time Has Proven, The Best Of Them, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, E.e Cummings, Among So Many Others, Became Remarkably Productive During The Decade That Followed Their Achievements Belied Initial Assessments Of Their Worth Reviewing Exiles Return In 1934, William Soskin Said, Nobody Wrote Great Books In The Last Decade Mr Hemingway Is Growing Dim So Are His Colleagues Lewis Gannett, An Influential Reviewer Whose Deprecatory Remarks Helped Keep The Books Paltry First Year Sales, During The Heart Of The Depression, At 983 Copies , Had Called The Exiles Nothingthan A Little Group Of Serious Thinking Drunkards Who Felt There Was Something Superb In Starving For Three Days While Waiting For Papas Next Check Their Legendary Intemperance Notwithstanding, Most Of These Writers Had In Fact Burned Their Bridges To Home And Gotten By On Odd Jobs, Goodwill, And Wits.In Postwar Paris They Escaped The Hypocrisy And Repression Of America And Found Cheap Living, Laissez Faire Standards Of Conduct, A Sense Of Community If At Times Only Among Themselves , And Equally Important, A Feeling That They Were Living, Creatively Unfettered, At The Cutting Edge Of Art In The Cultural Center Of The World Cowley, Whose Ticket Back To France In 1921 Came In The Form Of An Extended American Field Service Fellowship Earned For His Volunteer Service During The War, Studied Classical French Literature, Racine In Particular, But Quickly Became A Keen Observer Of Living Intellectual Heroes A Prewar Generation Of American Writers Who Had Expatriated Earlier, Among Them Ezra Pound, Who Frantically Fled His Admirers And Whose Elegant Mauberley Poems Damned The War And Its Outcome Gertrude Stein, Who Had Dubbed Herself As The Doyenne Of Exiles And T S Eliot, Whose Seminal Poem The Waste Land, Which Appeared In 1922, Confirmed The Anomie Of The Lost Generation There Were Also Non American Exiles, Such As James Joyce, Whose Serial Excerpts From Ulysses, And Its Full Publication In 1922, Though Broadly Heralded, Were Interdicted In England And America As Prurient And Scandalous.Equally Important To Cowley Were The French Writers On The Scene Marcel Proust, Paul Valry, And The Dadaists Proust, Though He Died In 1922, Had Left A Literary Legacy Composed In Bed In A Cork Lined Room, His Remembrance Of Things Past The Longest Novel Ever Written, It Appeared In Seven Volumes Across The Remainder Of The Decade The Poet And Thinker Paul Valry, Who Praised Form Over Content And Detachment Over Action, Had Imposed On Himself A Twenty Year Period Of Silence, Which, Cowley Writes, Impressed Us Eventhan The High Poems And The Noble Essays He Had Printed And Finally, There Were The Nihilistic And Iconoclastic Dadaists, Among Them Tristan Tzara And Louis Aragon, Who Befriended Cowley, And Who Regarded European Culture, The Very Culture Cowley Had Left His Own To Embrace, As A Culture Imploding Independently And Collectively These Artists Presented Cowley With A Judgment Art Is Separate From Life The Artist Is Independent Of The World And Superior To The Lifelings.Cowley Was, As He Saw It, In The Company Of The High Priests Of Art Their Ideas Were As Palpable As Their Presence In Parisian Caf Society One Could, As Cowley Did, Attend Gertrude Steins Salons, Meet With Joyce In His Apartment, Talk Of Shakespeares Historical Sources With Pound In The Htel Jacob, Sit With Valry On The Park Benches Of The Tuilleries To Question His Ideas, Attend And Take Part In Dadaist Happenings, Drink With Tzara Or With Fellow American Exiles In Montparnasse Cafs Such As The Select, The Rotonde, Or The Dme, And Even Be Praised For The Significant Gesture Of Punching The Disreputable Proprietor Of The Rotonde In Paris, Cowley Inhabited A World That Appreciated Significant Gestures.In The Chapters Of Exiles Return Entitled Paris Pilgrimages And The Death Of Dada, Cowley Writes Of This Heady Time, But He Also Plants The Seeds Of His Discontent Examining Ideas Rather Than Personalities, He Finds That The Idea Of A Priesthood In The Religion Of Art Both Attracts And Repulses Him If, In The Interest Of Making Art, The Choices Are To Shut Oneself Up In Ones Own Private World, As Proust Did, Or To Leave The Twentieth Century Behind, As It Seemed The Exiles Were Doingchoices Put Forward By Edmund Wilson In His 1931 Critical Study, Axels Castle Wherein Both Choices Result In Artistic Impotencethen, Cowley Feels, The Frame Of The Argument Is Logically Wrong, And The Religion Of Art Imperceptibly Merges Intoa State Of Mind In Which The Artist Deliberately Fritters Away His Talents Through Contempt For The Idiot Public That Can Never Understand.Cowley And The Other Paris Sojourners Of Whom He Wrote, Some Of Whom Stayed For Weeks Or Months, Others For Years, Always Intended To Return To Native Soil And Never Believed In Their Deracination, Beyond What It Taught Them They Could Bring Back From Their Exile New Insight Into Ways Of Shaping The Ideas Of That Idiot Public Of American Values Certainly Cowley Thought Of Them As Americans, Not As Citizens Of Some International Republic Of Learning, But As Shapers Of And Contributors To An American Culture, Despite The Prevailing Belief That Their Native Culture Had No Identity And Was Perilously Unaware Of Its Own Future Cowley Came Back Earlier Than Many Of His Fellows, In 1923, And Immediately Found An America Whose Values Were As Inhospitable As Paris And The Rest Of Europes Were Welcoming This Was The America Of Calvin Coolidge, Whose Business Was Business, An America That Ignoring Worldwide Inflation, Mortgaged Its Future On Credit, And Sang Itself Songs Like Yes, We Have No Bananas.The New York To Which Cowley Returned Was A City Of Anger, And The Mixture Of Idealism And Cynicism He Imported From His Exile Was Sorely Taxed By His Failed Attempts To Continue Publication Of Broom, The Little Magazine He Worked To Edit With Matthew Josephson, A Fellow Expatriate Although Cowley Makesof Such Defeats Than Their Place In American Literary History Might Merit, His Examplesof Post Office Censorship, Of The Homophobia Of Criticsamplify The Disparity Between The Cultural, Social, And Political Awareness Of His Fellow Exiles And The American Norm.Two Events Finally Solidified Cowleys Sense Of The Returned Exiles As Writers Whose Duty Was To Focus Their Literary Efforts On American Cultural Subjects, And Even Further, On American Political Values The First Was The 1927 Execution Of Sacco And Vanzetti, Two Men Held With Questionable Evidence On A Murder Charge In Massachusetts Prisons Since 1920 The Event Not Only Steeled Intellectual Opinion, It Galvanized It Sacco And Vanzetti Were Executed, And The Returned Exiles Grieved In Solidarity With The Rest Of The Intellectual World, But Only Until The Second Event, In October 1929, When The Stock Market Crashed, Bringing Down With It A Whole Construct Of American Values For Cowley And For Other Exiles Returned, The End Of The 1920s In The United States Was Like The Fall Of A House Of Cards, Expected, Predicted, And Confirming The Hollowness Of American Beliefs.While Millions Were Put Out Of Work By The Market Crash, Cowleys Luck Turned In The Same Month As The Crash He Was Hired As Literary Editor Of The New Republic, Replacing Edmund Wilson And The Magazine Began To Publish Serially The Chapters That Would Become Exiles Return Cowley Intended Exiles Return To Be Not A Document On American Literature, But A Part Of American Literature Itself Still, He Was Working In A New Medium, One He Largely Generated As He Supplied Transitions, Amplifications, And Details To The Essays He Had Published Serially Earlier Models Of Autobiography, Such As George Gissings New Grub Street 1891 Or Henry Adamss The Education Of Henry Adams 1918 , Only Began To Approach What Cowley Was Attempting In Exiles Return, Namely, A Generational Biography The Literary Critical Efforts Of Van Wyck Brooks, The Seminal Shaper Of Discourses On American Writing In The Teens And Twenties, And Of Edmund Wilsonwhose Narrative Criticism, Though Profoundly Different From Cowleys Design, Made Use Of Biographyeach Affected Cowleys Presentation Of The Aims Of Writers Indeed, Cowleys Argument With Wilsons Axels Castle Is A Pivot Of Exiles Return Valuable Too Were The Efforts Of Cowleys Fellow Exiles Ernest Hemingway, Whose Characters In The Sun Also Rises 1926 Lived Through A Period Of Violent Change, When The Influence Of Time Seemed Temporarilyimportant Than That Of Class Or Locality, And John Dos Passos, Whose Chief Point Of Exception Was To Be A Radical In The 1920s, When Most Of His Friends Were Indifferent To Politics, And To Become Increasingly Conservative In The Following Decade, When Many Of His Friends Were Becoming Radical Dos Passoss Prose Style In Manhattan Transfer 1925 And The USA Trilogy The First Two Volumes Of Which Had Appeared As Cowley Was Writing Exiles Return Enhanced Cowleys Style Of Blending Journalism, Biography, And Reflection Into A Form Cowley Later Called A Non Fiction Novel, Wherein Fact, Autobiography, And Critical Evaluation Are Woven Into A Storylike Form As Cowley Said In A 1967 Interview, Exiles Return Was Composed Rather Deliberately In That Form A Lmost Every Good Biography Might Be Called A Non Fiction Novel, And Through Using The Technique Of Fiction And Drama, Non Fiction Has Become Asophisticated Medium.The Form Of Exiles Return Eludes Easy Definition It Is By One Turn A Singular Chronicle Of The Conditions, Ideas, And Experiences That Shaped American Writing In The Twentieth Century Presented By One Of Its Shapers, And By Another A Homage To Paris In The Twenties As A Fecund Ground For Creativity, And A Castigation Of New York At The Same Time As A City Of Anger Equally, It Is An Adventure Story Of Youth In Rebellion Against Outmoded Values, And A Meditation On The Purpose, Function, And Service Of Art.Among The Less Examined Dimensions Of Exiles Return Are Its Stylistic Achievements One Significant Device Cowley Employs Is A Narrative Voice That Continually Shifts From An Autobiographical I To A Generational We With A Mix Of Narrative Voices Generally Found In Fiction Tossed In Third Person Omniscience, Third Person Limited Omniscience, And Direct Address Also Noteworthy Are His Use Of Historical Material Journalistically Recorded And His Presentation Of Contemporaries And Their Ideas Not By Anecdotal Remembrance But By The Texts They Wrote.Beyond Its Prologue And A Highly Personal Encomium To Rural, Or At Least Regional, Childhood, Exiles Return Begins With A Narrative We That Comes To Dominate The Book Initially This We Refers To Cowleys High School Contemporaries In Pittsburgh At Seventeen We Were Disillusioned And Weary In The Middle Of Basketball, Puppy Love And Discussions Of Lifewe Had Come To Question Almost Everything We Were Taught At Home And In School Two Paragraphs Later The Voice Becomes That Of His Lost Generation Compatriots Literature, Our Profession Werent We In High School A Moment Ago , Was Living In The Shadow Of Its Own Great Past The Symbols That Had Moved Us Moved Whom One Wants To Ask , The Great Themes Of Love And Death And Parting, Had Been Used And Exhausted And A Paragraph Later We Were Launching Or Drifting Into The Sea Of Letters With No Fixed Destination And Without A Pilot Remarkably, Across The Spread Of Two Pages In Exiles Return, Cowley Moves From Puppy Love And Basketball To Concerns That Will Dominate The Literary Lives Of His Generation He Writes So Continually, And Though In Moments The Method Doesnt Seem To Work, In The End It Does Accreting To The Autobiographical Narratives Momentum The Voice Of A Generalized We, Cowley Provides A Convincing Perspective Take, For Example, His Characterization Of A Futile Meeting Ending In Frustration, With Hart Crane, Kenneth Burke, James Light, Hannah Josephson, And Glenway Wescott Over Problems With BroomWe Plodded Homeward, Feeling Like Napoleons Grenadiers On The Retreat From Moscow Some Pages Later A Narrative We Appears In Saying, We Had Tried On Manhattan Island To Re Create The Atmosphere Of Intellectual Excitement And Moral Indignation That Had Stimulated Us In Paris Among The Dadaists, Cowley Neatly Conflates The We Assembled That Night With An Us Not Only Of Another Time, But A Different Us, Now Generalized There Should Be No Readerly Resentment Of Such Narrative Sleights Of Hand These Are The Deft Moves Of A Writer Using Fiction Techniques In A Nonfiction Frame Cowley Has An Uncanny Ability In Exiles Return To Present Limited Perspectives As Exemplary And By So Doing To Embrace A Larger Readership We Assume Cowleys Problems As Both Those Of His Generation And, As In A Novelistic Construct, Of Our Own.Add To This Cowleys Occasional Shifts Into Direct Address, Such As Those In The Long Furlough, Where He Brings His Readers Into His Immediate Context You Woke At Ten Oclock Between Soiled Sheets In A Borrowed Apartment The Sun Dripped Over The Edges Of The Green Windowshade.When The Second Pot Of Coffee Was Emptied A Visitor Would Come, Then Another You Would Borrow Fifty Five Cents For The Cheapest Bottle Of Sherry, And No Matter The Seeming Profligacy Of The Moment, Youre There, With The Writer In That Borrowed Apartment, Trying To Figure The Next Step.In Terms Of Factual And Historical Material Journalistically Presented, Cowley Does At Times Appear To Owe A Debt To Dos Passos Take, For Example, Cowleys Prcis Of The Monetary Chaos Surrounding Exchange Rates In PostWorld War I Europe Exchange It Happened That Old Europe, The Continent Of Immemorial Standards, Had Lost Them All It Had Only Prices, Which Changed From Country To Country, From Village To Village, It Seemed From Hour To Hour Tuesday In Hamburg You Might Buy A Banquet For Eight Cents Or Was It Five Thursday In Paris You Might Buy Twenty Cigarettes For The Price Of A Weeks Lodging In Vienna You Might Gamble In Munich For High Stakes, Win Half The Fortune Of A Czechoslovakian Profiteer, Then, If You Could Not Spend Your Winnings For Champagne And Picasso, You Might Give Them The Day After Tomorrow To A Beggar And Not Be Thanked Once In Berlin A Man Was About To Pay Ten Marks For A Box Of Matches When He Stopped To Look At The Banknote In His Hand On It Was Written, For These Ten Marks I Sold My Virtue He Wrote A Long And Virtuous Story About It, Was Paid Ten Million Marks, And Bought His Mistress A Pair Of Artificial Silk Stockings.This Is A Style Of Writing For Which, As An End In Itself, Dos Passos Became Famous, But Which Cowley, In Exiles Return, Cleverly Uses As A Documentary Staging Of His, And His Generations, Immediate Circumstance.Finally, Cowley Shapes His Discussion Of The Lost Generations Developing Beliefs By Examining The Content Of Their Writing Rather Than The Legacy Of Their Actions His Presentations Of Hemingways A Farewell To Arms Published In 1929 And Dos Passoss 1919 Published In 1932 , Among Numerous Other Examples, Are Placed Chronologically With The Events They Recount Rather Than With Events At The Time Of Their Publication, Just As His Extended Exploration Of Nathanael Wests Miss Lonelyhearts, Which Did Not Appear Until 1933, Is Placed With Cowleys Characterization Of The Closing Of The 1920s Similiarly, Discussions Of Eliot, Joyce, The Dadaists, And Valry, Writers The Exiles Measured Themselves By, Are Presented Not In Character Portraits, But In Terms Often Harsh Of A Theme Their Personalities Represented In Their Works A Devotion To The Priesthood Of Art, Removed From Action Or Everyday Life Of Eliot, Cowley Writes, Reacting To The Waste Lands Evocation Of Sterility And Madness, It Was As If He Were Sayingthat Our Age Was Prematurely Senile And Could Not Even Find Words Of Its Own In Which To Bewail Its Impotence That It Was Forever Condemned To Borrow And Patch Together The Songs Of Dead Poets Joyce Is Regarded Via His Books It Seemed To Us There Was Nothing Mysterious In What He Had Accomplished He Had Pride, Contempt, Ambitionand Those Were The Qualities That Continued To Stand Forth Clearly From Ulysses Herewas The Pride Of Stephen Dedalus That Raised Itself Above The Dublin Public Here Was The Authors Contempt For The World And For His Readerslike A Host Being Deliberately Rude To His Guests, He Made No Concession To Their Capacity For Attention Or Their Power Of Understanding And Here Was An Ambition Willing To Measure Itself, Not Against Any Novelist Of Its Agebut Withthe Archpoet Of The European Race With The Dadaists Cowley Also Notes An Arrogant Retreat Into Art Nothing Is Real Or True Except The Individual Pursuing His Individual Whims, The Artist Riding His Hobbyhorse, His Dada And, Finally, Of Valrys Praise Of Priestly Artistic Genius It Would Be Useless To Put Method Into Action To Act, For Any Individual Of The First Magnitude, Is Only An Exercise, And One That May End By Impoverishing The Mind.It Is That Sense Of Priesthood That Led Cowley To Choose For The Closure Of His Book A Brief Life Of Harry Crosby, An Ultimately Inconsequential Figure, A Rich American Expatriate Aesthete Whose Suicide, Six Weeks After The Stock Market Crash, Ended What A Later Biographer Called His Brief Transit And Violent Eclipse This, Cowley Seems To Say, Is How The Religion Of Art For Its Own Sake Ends, As It Did For Edmund Wilsons Figures Of Axel And Rimbaud In Axels Castle Cowley Wanted An Object Lesson That By Its Damning Of Artistic Quietudethe Religion Of Artwould Ground A Prescription For Action Crosbys Story, Cowley Appropriately Notes, Casts A Retrospective Light On The Literary History Of A Whole Decade.It Is Well Known, And Cowley Frequently Avowed, That He Intended To Conclude His Estimation Of The Twenties With The Equally Brief Transit And Violent Eclipse Of His Fartalented Friend, The Poet Hart Crane, Who Ended His Own Tumultuous Life In Suicide By Jumping Overboard From A Ship In The Caribbean In 1932 Even With The Opportunity To Rewrite His Final Chapter In 1951, However, Cowley Held To The Crosby Story And Indeed Expanded It Although He Added A Remembrance Of Crane The Roaring Boy, Which Appears In Chapter Seven , The Life And Death Of Harry Crosby, Reconstructed From Diaries Provided To Cowley By Crosbys Widow, Caresse, Provedstraightforwardly Usable It Happens That Crosbys Brief And Not Particularly Distinguished Literary Life Of Seven Years Included Practically All The Themes I Have Been Trying To Develop Specifically, Cowley Writes, The Separation From Home, The Effects Of Service In The Ambulance Corps, The Exile In France, Then Other Themes, Bohemianism, The Religion Of Art, The Escape From Society, The Effort To Defend Ones Individuality Even At The Cost Of Sterility And Madness, Then The Final Period Of Demoralization When The Whole Philosophical Structure Crumbled From Within Cowley Saved His Painful And Intimate Story Of Cranes Last Days For The Dream Of The Golden Mountains, A Memoir Of The Thirties, Which Cowley Published In 1978.Exiles Return In Its 1951 Edition Ends With A Summation Of The Events And Attitudes Of The Twenties As The Book Closes, Society Is On The Brink Of Bleak Prospects And Exhibits The Sluggish Awareness Of One Emerging, Hungover, Into Sunlight After An All Night Party From Cowleys Perspective In 1951, There Is The Advantage That Things Worked Outor Less Okay As In Any Good Story, The Storytellerin This Case Both Cowley And The Literary Generationhas Survived To Tell The Tale It Was An Easy, Quick, Adventurous Age, Good To Be Young In, Cowley Wrote, And Yet On Coming Out Of It One Felt A Sense Of Relief.When Cowley Initially Completed The Book, In 1934, He Was In His Middle Thirties, Speaking His Own Life And Speaking For His Generation Such Effort Is Logically The Endeavor Of One Much Older, Tempered By Ongoing Life And Perspective And Yet, As He Reflected On Autobiography In Late Age, He Wrote, Memoirs Written In Young And Middle Life Deserve, And Are Likely To Find,readers, Since The Author Hasaccumulated A Richer Store Of Memories He May Choose Among Them After Reflection Or He May Simply Probe His Unconscious Whatever Lives There Vividly Will Be What He Needs, And Perhaps What The World Needs.Cowleys Revised 1951 Edition Of Exiles Return, The Text Presented Here, Replaced The First Editions Prologue And Epilogue With New Material, But In The Main Was The Effort Of A Writer Polishing His Prose, No Doubt Grateful, Seventeen Years Later, That His Estimations Had Been Precise From The Beginning.The 1951 Edition Of Exiles Return Became Steadily Popular Especially Among Students And New Bohemians And Was Widely Reviewed One Critic, Lloyd Morris, Noted, Mr Cowley Has Painted The Classic Picture Of American Writers In The 1920s , And It Is Not Likely To Be Surpassed In Authenticity, Eloquence Or Beauty Cowley Was Astute In His Design To Republish The Book Whereas In 1934 He Was Trying To Give Voice To The Developing American Literary Tradition And His Place In It, By 1951 Public Awareness Of That Tradition And The Roles Cowley And His Contemporaries Played In Extending It Had Been Established His Literary Critical Essays On His Fellow Lost Generation Writers, And His Thoroughgoing Explorations Of The American Literary Tradition And His Generations Part In It, All Widely Published In The Late Forties The Continued Critical Writings Of Van Wyck Brooks And Edmund Wilson Work By F O Matthiessen And His Generation Of Younger Critics A Surfeit Of Paris In The Twenties Memoirs And A Public Surge Of Interest In The Work Of Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, And William Faulkner, Gave Weight To Ezra Pounds Theory That There Was A Twenty Year Lag Between The Making Of Art And The Public Appreciation Of It.The Year 1951 Was A Complicated But Ultimately Good Time To Reissue The Book Cowleys American Readership Was Caught Up In A PostWorld War II Estimation Of Itself As A Culture, Perhaps Engaging In Such Self Assessment For The First Time, And The Question What Is American About America Was Frequently Posed One Response To That Question Was McCarthyism, A Devilish Cold War Echo Of Twenties Boosterism And Babbittry Cowleys Presentation Of The Literary Lost Generations Explorations Stood Yet Again As A Counter To The Prevailing Norm, And Inspired Young Readers By 1951, The Context Of Exiles Return Had Been Broadly Accepted, And The Terms Critics Applied To Itsuch As Classic Picture And Authenticityseemed Appropriate To Cowleys Estimation Of What Was Now No Longer The Time Of A Little Group Of Serious Thinking Drunkards, But A Pivotal Period In American Letters Notably, The Writers Who Praised The 1951 Edition Of Exiles Returnwhich Has Since Gone Through Thirty Printingswere, Like The Relatively Few Praising Critics Of The 1934 Edition, People Of Cowleys Own Generation, Or Younger Still, The Book Has A Troubled Closure, Despite Its 1951 Epilogue, Which Faithfully Executes The Subtitle Cowley Provided For The New Edition A Literary Odyssey Of The 1920s The Last Stage Of One Adventure Was, As Always, The First Stage Of Another, Cowley Writes In 1951 Even Ulysses Odyssey Found Its Way Back To A Purpose Beyond Reaching Ithaka.The 1934 Edition Of The Book Ends Rather Differently, And Thereby Hangs A Tale That Danglesthan One Way In His 1934 Epilogue To Exiles Return Included With This Edition As Appendix A , Cowley Offered A Cause, Social Commitment, That Might Serve As A Focus To Return The Exiles To America, A Return That Had Already Begun Before The Execution Of Sacco And Vanzetti, And Which Was In Spirit Completed Before The Stock Market Crash Of 1929 The Original Epilogue Has Long Been Considered By Cowleys Negative Critics A Suppressed Radical Tract, Full Of Workers Of The World, Unite Cant And Orthodoxy To A Degree It Is But It Is Also Tiresomely Tame, Full Of Turgid Arguments From Kant And Schopenhauer And The Communist Manifesto It Is Passionately Sincere Fraught With Codified Language Should Artists Take Part In The Class Struggle It Asks At One Point , The 1934 Epilogue Exhibits Writing Largely Unlike Cowleys Style Elsewhere In Exiles Return Often It Expresses Poorly Formed Ideas In Hasty Writing Remarkable, Though, Is The Fact That Once The Superficiality, Cant, And Codification Of Class Struggle Are Set Aside, Cowley In His Later Years Stuck To The Same Idealism Enunciated In This Manifesto His Major Aim In The Original Epilogue Was To Enhance The Idea That Art Has A Social Function The Artists True Role, He Says In A Moment Of Clarity There, Is To First Transform The Objects About Him By Connecting Them With Human Emotions, By Finding Their Purpose And Direction, By Making Them Understandable He Repeats The Same Process In The World At Large, Cowley Continues, By Perceiving In It Architectural And Musical Forms, Unity And Rhythm, By Giving It A History, And Chiefly By Transfusing It With Myth.It Should Come As No Surprise That Though Cowley Abjured Direct Political Discussion After The 1930s, He Sought Not Simply To Celebrate American Literature And To Defend American Writers As A Community Within The Larger Community, As He Once Wrote, But To Arouse In Americans A Sense Of Community And Of Common Destinies On A Deeper Level Than That Of Practical Affairs So That It Might Make It Possible For Us To Believe In Ourselves As Characters In The Drama Of American History.Cowley Stopped Writing Transparently Of Class Struggle And Social Radicalism After His Disastrous Flirtations With Communism And Stalinism In The Later 1930s The Wars Of The Haves And The Have Nots Became Muchclear To Him And His Contemporaries In Literature They Saw That Revolutions Effected By Artists Occur Almost Imperceptibly, And Are Secured In The Space Where Artists Have A Free Hand Not In The World Of Public Policy And Politics That Horribly Negative Word , But In The Free Space Of The Artists Initial Selection Of Subject And Material When The Writer Chooses His Or Her Subject With A Sense Of World In Mind, With A Vision Of Society And Culture To Come Of This Effort This Effort Of Simply Making A Good Story To Be Told, Then Heard, And Then Told Again By Others Who Have Heard , Then The Process Of Making Art Enhances Social Change All Works Of Art, Cowley Wrote In The 1934 Epilogue, Teach Us That Life Is Bigger Than Life Our Readerly Contrast Of Ourselves With The Characters, Ideas, And Even The Author Of A Book Read Often Spurs Us To Action, At Times Similar To Those The Book Presents, At Times Opposing The Act Echoes Cowleys Own Readings Of The Lives Of The Saints Of Literary Modernism.Whats Remarkable In Cowleys Life And Work, Beyond The Revolutionary Cant Of The Original Epilogue To Exiles Return, Is That He Kept His Spirit And Grew In Wisdom Beyond His Often Blind Political Fervor Of The 1930s Cowley Always Followed His Reading It Could Be That Hemingway Led Him Out Of Cant With A Literary Estimation Of Social Commitment In For Whom The Bell Tolls, Or It Could Have Stemmed From Elsewhere, Perhaps From His Reading Of Emerson But When Cowley Started Diving Into Hemingway In The Late Thirties And Early Forties, And Through Him Into Hawthorne And Nineteenth Century American Writing In General, Then Back Into The Twentieth Century With The Work Of William Faulkner, He Deepened His Sense Of American Literature And Found Wisdom And Solace In Understanding The Grander, If Slower, Effect Of Art On Society And Culture He Studied Hawthorne, Emerson, Whitman, And Through Them Came To A Comprehension Of His Own Generation Hemingway, Fitzgerald, And William Faulkner These Were People, Among Others, Whose Making Of Art Had A Prescriptive Dimension, An Incitement To Social Change Cowley Understood Thisindeed His Later Productive Insight Into Such Writing Essentially Echoed The Nave And Hopeful Idealism Of His 1934 Epilogue He Reflected This Understanding In His Critical Writings, Enhancing Its Effect, For The Rest Of His Life What Cowley Finally Understood, And What I Think Gave Him Both Solace And Wisdom Beyond His Exile Years, Is That American Literature Is Both Subversive And Actively Directed To Social Change Hawthorne Is Subversive, And So, Naturally, Are Emersons Essays, Whitmans Song Of Myself, And Twains Huckleberry Finn I Think Cowley Realized That The Cant Of The Original Exiles Return Epilogue Was Hasty, Cocksure, And Ultimately Blind But Whats Fascinating Is That Its Very Premises And Projections Were Ultimately Confirmed By Cowleys Study Of The American Literary Tradition Thus, When Cowley During The 1950s Said Of Forthcoming Generations Of American Writers, They Will Be As Different From Those Of The Lost Generation As Hemingway And Faulkner Were Different From Every American Author Who Preceded Them, Though Without Ceasing To Be In The Tradition, And The Tradition Changes, But Persists, Cowley Wasnt Confirming The Integrity Of The Artist, He Was Confirming The Condition Of The Artist As American That Condition, He Would Maintain, Evolves From The Strange But Necessary Circumstance Of Free Choice, A Freedom Of Choice Of Subject That, However, Is Always Circumscribed By Its Ultimate Direction Toward Community, And Its Enhancement There Is, As Cowley Understood In Later Life With A Solace And Wisdom That Transcended His Twenties Exile And His Intellectualized Sense Of Culture In The Thirties, Simply No Other Way To Write American Literature.Suggestions For Further Reading1 Works By Malcolm Cowley Discussing Or Related To Exiles ReturnAnd I Worked At The Writers Trade Chapters Of Literary History, 19181978 New York Viking, 1978 See Especially The Chapters And Jesse Begat A Note On Literary Generations, And I Worked At The Writers Trade, And The 1930s Faith And WorksBlue Juniata A Life New York Viking, 1985 In This Collection Of Cowleys Poetry, See Especially The Sections Entitled Blue Juniata, The Crooked Streets, Valuta, And The City Of AngerConversations With Malcolm Cowley Edited By Thomas Daniel Young Jackson University Press Of Mississippi, 1986 See Especially The Eisenberg, Herendeen And Parker, Stegner And Canzoneri, And Wood InterviewsThe Dream Of The Golden Mountains Remembering The 1930s New York Viking, 1978 See Especially Pp 22030A Second Flowering Works And Days Of The Lost Generation New York Viking, 1973 The Selected Correspondence Of Kenneth Burke And Malcolm Cowley, 19151981 Edited By Paul Jay New York Viking, 1988 Think Back On Us A Contemporary Chronicle Of The 1930s Edited By Henry Dan Piper Carbondale Southern Illinois University Press, 1967 In This Selection Of Cowleys Essays And Reviews, Largely For The New Republic, See Especially The Pieces Written Prior To 1934 2 On Malcolm Cowley And The Period Relating To Exiles Return Aaron, Daniel Writers On The Left Episodes In American Literary Communism New York Oxford University Press, 1961 Reprint New York Columbia University Press, 1992.Bak, Hans Malcolm Cowley The Formative Years Athens, Ga University Of Georgia Press, 1992.Edel, Leon Introduction To Malcolm Cowley, Exiles Return New York Limited Editions Club, 1981.Eisenberg, Diane U Malcolm Cowley A Checklist Of His Writings, 19161973 Carbondale Southern Illinois University Press, 1975.Herendeen, Warren, And Donald J Parker, Eds The Visionary Company A Magazine Of The Twenties, Special Malcolm Cowley Issue, 2, 2 And 3, 1 Summer 1987 Dobbs Ferry, N.Y Mercy College.Kempf, James Michael The Early Career Of Malcolm Cowley A Humanist Among Moderns Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1985.Pells, Richard H Radical Visions And American Dreams Culture And Social Thought In The Depression Years New York Harper Row, 1973.Rood, Karen Lane, Ed American Writers In Paris 19201939 Vol 4 Of The Dictionary Of Literary Biography Detroit Gale Research Company, 1980 See Especially The Foreword By Malcolm Cowley, Which Is Largely A Criticism Of Geoffrey Wolffs Biography Of Harry Crosby, Black Sunand Donald G Parkers Essay, Malcolm Cowley Simpson, Lewis Malcolm Cowley And The American Writer Sewanee Review 84 Spring 1976.Styron, William That Extraordinary Company Of Writers Ironically Known As The Lost Generation New York Times Book Review, May 6, 1973.3 Contemporary Reviews Of The 1934 Edition Of Exiles ReturnAdams, Franklin P The Conning Tower New York Herald Tribune, June 1, 1934.Blackmur, R P The Dangers Of Authorship In The Double Agent Essays In Craft And Elucidation New York Arrow Editions, 1935.Brickell, Herschell North American Review 238 Summer 1934.Chamberlain, John New York Times, May 28 And June 7, 1934.DeVoto, Bernard Saturday Review Of Literature, June 2, 1934 Reprinted DeVoto, Forays And Rebuttals, 31523 Boston Little, Brown, 1936.Farrell, James T A Note On Literary Criticism, 15774 New York Vanguard Press, 1936.Gannett, Lewis New York Herald Tribune, May 28, 1934.Hansen, Harry New York World Telegram, June 18, 1934.Lewisohn, Ludwig Nation 139 July 4, 1934.Lippmann, Walter The Conning Tower New York Herald Tribune, June 15, 1934.Rascoe, Burton The Conning Tower New York Herald Tribune, June 8, 1934.Slocum, J J Scribners Magazine 96 June 1934.Sorkin, William New York Journal American, May 28, 1934.4 Contemporary Reviews Of The 1951 Edition Of Exiles Return _____ Unsigned Quarterly Review Of Literature, Spring 1962.Aldridge, John W Nation 180 February 19, 1955 Reprinted In Aldridge, In Search Of Heresy, 16676 New York McGraw Hill, 1956.Baro, Gene Antioch Review 11 Fall 1951.Dupee, F W The American Scholar 20, 4 Fall 1951.Krutch, Joseph Wood San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 1951.Miller, Perry Nation, 173 October 27, 1951.Mizener, Arthur New Statesman 62 September 19, 1961.Moore, Brian Spectator 207 March 6, 1961.Morris, Lloyd New York Herald Tribune Books, July 8, 1951.Spiller, Robert American Quarterly 3, 3 Fall 1951.5 Related Memoirs And Biographies Of Lost Generation Writers In The 1920s Beach, Sylvia Shakespeare Company New York Harcourt Brace, 1959.Brown, Susan Jenkins Robber Rocks Letters And Memories Of Hart Crane, 19231932 Middletown Wesleyan University Press, 1969.Callaghan, Morley That Summer In Paris New York Coward McCann, 1963.Crosby, Caresse The Passionate Years New York Dial, 1953.Dos Passos, John The Best Times New York New American Library, 1966.Flanner, Janet Paris Was Yesterday 19251939 Edited By Irving Drutman New York Viking, 1972.Ford, Hugh Published In Paris American And British Writers, Printers, And Publishers In Paris, 19201939 New York Macmillan, 1975.Glassco, John Memoirs Of Montparnasse New York Oxford, 1970.Griffin, Peter Less Than A Treason Hemingways Years In Paris New York Oxford, 1991.Hemingway, Ernest A Moveable Feast New York Scribners, 1964.Josephson, Matthew Life Among The Surrealists New York Holt, 1962.Loeb, Harold The Way It Was New York Criterion Books, 1961.McAlmon, Robert Being Geniuses Together An Autobiography London Secker Warburg, 1938 Revised With Additional Chapters By Kay Boyle Garden City, N.Y Doubleday, 1968.Mellow, James R Charmed Circle Gertrude Stein Company New York Praeger, 1974.Shi, David E Matthew Josephson Bourgeois Bohemian New Haven Yale University Press, 1981.Stearns, Harold Rediscovering America New York Liveright, 1934.Stein, Gertrude The Autobiography Of Alice B Toklas New York Harcourt Brace, 1933.Unterecker, John Voyager A Life Of Hart Crane New York Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1969.Wolff, Geoffrey, Black Sun The Brief Transit And Violent Eclipse Of Harry Crosby New York Random House, 1976.A Note On The TextAs Noted In The Introduction, There Were Two Editions Of Exiles Return The First Appeared In June 1934 And Was Published By W W Norton And Company The Second, Revised Edition Appeared In June 1951 And Was Published By Viking Press The U.K Publication Of The 1951 Revised Edition, By Bodley Head, Did Not Appear Until 1961 The 1934 Edition Of Exiles Return Was Subtitled A Narrative Of Ideas In 1951, The Books Subtitle Was A Literary Odyssey Of The 1920s The 1934 Edition Bore No Dedication, While The 1951 Edition Was Dedicated To Muriel, Cowleys Second Wife, Whom He Married In 1932.The 1934 Edition Contained Seven Chapters The 1951 Edition Contained Eight The Difference Between The Two Editions Is Largely A Matter Of The Organization Of Material.The Seventh And Last Chapter Of The 1934 Edition, Entitled No Escape, Was Broken Into Four Subsections Connecticut Valley, Political Interlude, The Story Of A Suicide, And To Die At The Right Time The Seventh Chapter Of The 1951 Edition, Entitled The Age Of Islands, Includes New Material On Sacco And Vanzetti Charlestown Prison And Hart Crane The Roaring Boy , And Some Transitional Material That Did Not Appear In The 1934 Edition Five And A Half Pages At The Beginning And Three Pages At The End Of The 1934 Chapter Seven Subsection Political Interlude Were Omitted In The 1951 Edition The Rest Of The Subsection Was Absorbed Into The 1951 Chapter Seven Subsection No Escape The Eighth Chapter Of The 1951 Edition, Echoes Of A Suicide, Essentially Reorganized The Material On Harry Crosby Already Presented In The 1934 Edition.Beyond This, The Major Differences Between The Two Editions Are The Replacement Of The 1934 Epilogue, Yesterday And Tomorrow Which Is Appended To This Edition , With The 1951 Epilogue, New Years Eve Some Part Of Which Appeared In The 1934 Edition , The Rewriting Of The Prologue, And The Addition Of The Appendix Entitled Years Of Birth.The Other Revisions, Though Numerous, Are Matters Of Style Occasionally, As With The Expansion Of The Section Historical Parallel, Cowley Added A PostWorld War II Perspective On The Soviet Union In The Main, Cowleys 1951 Revisions Were Those Of A Writer Honing His Prose To Sharpness.Exiles Returnto MurielPrologue The Lost GenerationThis Book Is The Story To 1930 Of What Used To Be Called The Lost Generation Of American Writers It Was Gertrude Stein Who First Applied The Phrase To Them You Are All A Lost Generation, She Said To Ernest Hemingway, And Hemingway Used The Remark As An Inscription For His First Novel It Was A Good Novel And Became A Crazeyoung Men Tried To Get As Imperturbably Drunk As The Hero, Young Women Of Good Families Took A Succession Of Lovers In The Same Heartbroken Fashion As The Heroine, They All Talked Like Hemingway Characters And The Name Was Fixed I Dont Think There Was Any Self Pity In It Scott Fitzgerald Sometimes Pitied Himself, And With Reason Hart Crane Used To Say That He Was Caught Like A Rat In A Trap But Neither Crane Nor Fitzgerald Talked About Being Part Of A Lost Generation Most Of Those Who Used The Phrase About Themselves Were A Little Younger And Knew They Were Boasting They Were Like Kiplings Gentlemen Rankers Out On A Spree And They Wanted To Have It Understood That They Truly Belonged To The Legion Of The Lost Ones, To The Cohort Of The Damned Later They Learned To Speak The Phrase Apologetically, As If In Quotation Marks, And Still Later It Was Applied To Other Age Groups, Each Of Which Was Described In Turn As Being The Real Lost Generation None Genuine Without The Trademark In The Beginning, However, When The Phrase Was Applied To Young Writers Born In The Years Around 1900, It Was As Useful As Any Half Accurate Tag Could Be.It Was Useful To Older Persons Because They Had Been Looking For Words To Express Their Uneasy Feeling That Postwar Youthflaming Youthhad An Outlook On Life That Was Different From Their Own Now They Didnt Have To Be Uneasy They Could Read About The Latest Affront To Social Standards Or To Literary Conventions And Merely Say, Thats The Lost Generation But The Phrase Was Also Useful To The Youngsters They Had Grown Up And Gone To College During A Period Of Rapid Change When Time In Itself Seemedimportant Than The Influence Of Class Or Locality Now At Last They Had A Slogan That Proclaimed Their Feeling Of Separation From Older Writers And Of Kinship With One Another In The Slogan The Noun Wasimportant Than The Adjective They Might Or Might Not Be Lost, The Future Would Decide That Point But They Had Already Had The Common Adventures And Formed The Common Attitude That Made It Possible To Describe Them As A Generation.In That Respect, As In The Attitude Itself, They Were Different From The Writers Who Preceded Them Sectional And Local Influences Were Relativelyimportant During The Years Before 1900 Two New England Writers Born Fifteen Or Twenty Years ApartEmerson And Thoreau, For Examplemight Bearresemblance To Each Other Than Either Bore To A Virginian Or A New Yorker Of His Own Age Compare Emerson And Poe, Or Thoreau And Whitman Literature Was Not Yet Centered In New York Indeed, It Had No Center On This Side Of The Ocean There Was A Knickerbocker School, There Was A Concord School, There Was A Charleston School Later There Would Be A Hoosier School, A Chicago School Men Of Every Age Belonged To The First Three And Might Have Belonged To The Others, Had These Not Been Founded At A Time When Writers Were Drifting To The Metropolis.Publishing, Like Finance And The Theater, Was Becoming Centralized After 1900 Regional Traditions Were Dying Out All Regions Were Being Transformed Into A Great Unified Market For Motorcars And Ivory Soap And Ready To Wear Clothes The Process Continued During The Childhood Of The New Generation Of Writers Whether They Grew Up In New England, The Midwest, The Southwest Or On The Pacific Coast, Their Environment Was Almost The Same It Was A Little Different In The Old South, Which Had Kept Some Of Its Local Manners But Was Losing Them The Childhood Of These Writers Was Less Affected By Geography Than It Was By The Financial Situation Of Their Parents, Yet Even That Was Fairly Uniform A Few Of The Writers Came From Wealthy Families, A Very Few From The Slums Most Of Them Were The Children Of Doctors, Small Lawyers, Prosperous Farmers Or Struggling Businessmenof Families Whose Incomes In Those Days Of Cheaper Living Were Between Two Thousand And Perhaps Eight Thousand Dollars A Year Since Their Playmates Were Also Middle Class They Had The Illusion Of Belonging To A Great Classless Society.All But A Handful Were Pupils In The Public Schools, Where They Studied The Same Textbooks, Sang The Same Songs And Revolted Rather Tamely Against The Same Restrictions At The Colleges They Attended, Usually Some Distance From Their Homes, They Were Divested Of Their Local Peculiarities, Taught To Speak A Standardized American English And Introduced To The World Of International Learning Soon They Would Be Leaving For The Army In France, Where They Would Be Subjected Together To A Sudden Diversity Of Emotions Boredom, Fear, Excitement, Pride, Aloofness And Curiosity During The Drab Peacemaking At Versailles They Would Suffer From The Same Collapse Of Emotions They Would Go Back Into Civilian Life Almost As If They Were Soldiers On A Long Furlough.Some Of Them Would Go To Greenwich Village To Begin The Long Adventure Of The 1920s Only Long Afterward Could The Period Be Described, In Scott Fitzgeralds Phrase, As The Greatest, Gaudiest Spree In History At First It Promised To Be Something Quite Different, A Period Of Social And Moral Reaction The Prohibition Amendment Had Gone Into Effect In January 1920, Strikes Were Being Broken All Over The Country, And Meanwhile Greenwich Village Was Full Of Plain Clothes Dicks From The Vice Squad And The Bomb Squad I Remember That Many Young Women Were Arrested And Charged With Prostitution Because The Dicks Had Seen Them Smoking Cigarettes In The Street, And I Remember That Innocent Tea Rooms Were Raided Because They Were Thought To Harbor Dangerous Reds Then Harding Was Elected, The Red Scare Was Forgotten And, After A Sharp Recession In 1921, The Country Started Out To Make Money It Was The New Era Of Installment Buying And Universal Salesmanship The Young Writers Couldnt Buy Luxuries Even On The Installment Plan They Didnt Want To Advertise Or Sell Them Or Write Stories In Which Salesmen Were The Romantic Heroes Feeling Like Aliens In The Commercial World, They Sailed For Europe As Soon As They Had Money Enough To Pay For Their Steamer Tickets.Nor Would This Be The End Of Their Adventures In Common Until They Were Thirty Most Of Them Would Follow A Geographical Pattern Of Life, One That Could Be Suggested Briefly By The Names Of Two Cities And A State New York, Paris, Connecticut After Leaving Greenwich Village They Would Live In Montparnasse Or Its Suburbs In Normandy And On The Riviera , And Some Of Them Would Stay There Year After Year In What Promised To Be A Permanent Exile Others Would Go Back To New York, Then Settle In A Connecticut Farmhouse With Their Books, A Portable Typewriter And The Best Intentions Whether They Were At Home Or Abroad In 1929, Most Of Them Would Have Found A Place In The Literary World And Would Be Earning A Fairly Steady Income The Depression Would Be Another Common Experience, Almost As Shattering As The War.I Am Speaking Of The Young Men And Women Who Graduated From College, Or Might Have Graduated, Between 1915, Say, And 1922 They Were Never United Into A Single Group Or School Instead They Included Several Loosely Defined And Vaguely Hostile Groups, In Addition To Many Individuals Who Differed With Every Group Among Their Contemporaries The Fact Is That All Of Them Differed Constantly With All The Others They All Felt, However, A Sharper Sense Of Difference In Regard To Writers Older Than Themselves Who Hadnt Shared Their Adventures It Was As If The Others Had Never Undergone The Same Initiatory Rites And Had Never Been Admitted To The Same Broad Confraternity In A Strict Sense The New Writers Formed What Is Known As A Literary Generation Their Sense Of Being Different Has Been Expressed Time And Again In The Books They Wrote Take, For Example, The Second Paragraph Of A Story By Scott Fitzgerald, The Scandal Detectives, In Which He Is Describing An Episode From His Boyhood Some Generations Are Close To Those That Succeed Them Between Others The Gulf Is Infinite And Unbridgeable Mrs Bucknera Woman Of Character, A Member Of Society In A Large Middle Western Citycarrying A Pitcher Of Fruit Lemonade Through Her Own Spacious Back Yard, Was Progressing Across A Hundred Years Her Own Thoughts Would Have Been Comprehensible To Her Great Grandmother What Was Happening In A Room Above The Stable Would Have Been Entirely Unintelligible To Them Both In What Had Once Served As The Coachmans Sleeping Apartment, Her Son And A Friend Were Not Behaving In A Normal Manner, But Were, So To Speak, Experimenting In A Void They Were Making The First Tentative Combinations Of The Ideas And Materials They Found Ready At Their Handsideas Destined To Become, In Future Years, First Articulate, Then Startling And Finally Commonplace At The Moment She Called Up To Them They Were Sitting With Disarming Quiet Upon The Still Unhatched Eggs Of The Mid Twentieth Century.Boys Like Ripley Buckner And His Friendwho Was Scott Fitzgerald Under Another Namewere Born Shortly Before 1900 Since They Were In Their Teens When The Twentieth Century Was Also In Its Teens, It Is No Wonder That They Fell Into The Habit Of Identifying Themselves With The Century They Retained The Habit Until Theyand The Centurywere Well Along In The Thirties As Representatives Of A New Age They Had A Sense Of Being Somehow Unique One Catches An Echo Of It In The Affectionate Fashion In Which Fitzgerald Often Used The Phrase My Contemporaries It Seems To Me Now That The Feeling Was Insufficiently Grounded In Fact And That Mrs Buckner, For Example, Was Closer To Her Son And His Friend Than The Youngsters Realized Edith Wharton Was Of Mrs Buckners Age And She Could Understand Fitzgerald Perhaps Better Than He Understood Mrs Wharton Going Farther Back, Many Young Writers Of The 1890s Had Also Been In Revolt And Had Tried To Introduce European Standards Of Art And Conduct Into American Literature They Too Were A Lost Generation Andtragically Lost Than Their Successors The Postwar Writers, In Their Feeling That Their Experiences Were Unique, Revealed Their Ignorance Of The American Past On The Other Hand, The Feeling Was Real In Itself, However Ill Grounded, And It Made Them Regard All Other Members Of Their Own Age Group, Whether Artists Or Athletes Or Businessmen, As Belonging To A Sort Of Secret Order, With Songs And Passwords, Leagued In Rebellion Against The Stuffy People Who Were Misruling The World.They Were Not A Lost Generation In The Sense Of Being Unfortunate Or Thwarted, Like The Young Writers Of The 1890s The Truth Was That They Had An Easy Time Of It, Even As Compared With The Writers Who Immediately Preceded Them Dreiser, Anderson, Robinson, Masters And Sandburg Were All In Their Forties Before They Were Able To Devote Most Of Their Time To Writing Sinclair Lewis Was Thirty Five Before He Made His First Success With Main Street It Was Different With The New Group Of Writers Largely As A Result Of What The Older Group Had Accomplished, Their Public Was Ready For Them And They Werent Forced To Waste Years Working In A Custom House, Like Robinson, Or Writing Advertising Copy, Like Anderson At The Age Of Twenty Four Fitzgerald Was Earning Eighteen Thousand Dollars A Year With His Stories And Novels Hemingway, Wilder, Dos Passos And Louis Bromfield Were Internationally Known Novelists Before They Were Thirty They Had A Chance Which The Older Men Lacked To Develop Their Craftsmanship In Book After Book From The Very First They Were Professionals.Yet In Spite Of Their Opportunities And Their Achievements The Generation Deserved For A Long Time The Adjective That Gertrude Stein Had Applied To It The Reasons Arent Hard To Find It Was Lost, First Of All, Because It Was Uprooted, Schooled Away And Almost Wrenched Away From Its Attachment To Any Region Or Tradition It Was Lost Because Its Training Had Prepared It For Another World Than Existed After The War And Because The War Prepared It Only For Travel And Excitement It Was Lost Because It Tried To Live In Exile It Was Lost Because It Accepted No Older Guides To Conduct And Because It Had Formed A False Picture Of Society And The Writers Place In It The Generation Belonged To A Period Of Transition From Values Already Fixed To Values That Had To Be Created Its Members Began By Writing For Magazines With Names Like Transition, Broom To Make A Clean Sweep Of It , 1924, This Quarter Existing In The Pure Present , S 4 N, Secession They Were Seceding From The Old And Yet Could Adhere To Nothing New They Groped Their Way Toward Another Scheme Of Life, As Yet Undefined In The Midst Of Their Doubts And Uneasy Gestures Of Defiance They Felt Homesick For The Certainties Of Childhood It Was Not By Accident That Their Early Books Were Almost All Nostalgic, Full Of The Wish To Recapture Some Remembered Thing In Paris Or Pamplona, Writing, Drinking, Watching Bullfights Or Making Love, They Continued To Desire A Kentucky Hill Cabin, A Farmhouse In Iowa Or Wisconsin, The Michigan Woods, The Blue Juniata, A Country They Had Lost, Ah, Lost, As Thomas Wolfe Kept Saying A Home To Which They Couldnt Go Back.I Wrote This Book Almost Twenty Years Ago At The Time I Was Trying To Set Down The Story Of The Lost Generation While Its Adventures Were Still Fresh In My Mind I Wanted To Tell How It Earned Its Name And Tried To Live Up To It, Then How It Ceased To Be Lost, How, In A Sense, It Found Itself Since I Had Shared In Many Of The Adventures I Planned To Tell A Little Of My Own Story, But Only As Illustration Of What Had Happened To Others Essentially What I Wanted To Write Was Less A Record Of Events Than A Narrative Of Ideas But The Ideas Would Be Of A Certain Type They Were Not The Ones That People Thought They Held At The Time Or Consciously Expressed In Books And Book Reviews They Were Rather The Ideas That Half Unconsciously Guided Their Actions, The Ideas That They Lived And Wrote By In Other Words I Was Trying To Write Something Broader In Scope Than A Literary History Ideas Or Purposes Of This Nature Are Always Connected With A General Situation That Is Social And Economic Before Becoming Literary They React On The Situation That Produced Them, They Conflict With One Another And They End By Affecting The Lives Of Many Who Never Regarded Themselves As Literary Or Artisticfor Example, In The Late 1920s There Were People All Over The Country Who Had Never Been To New York And Yet Were Acting And Talking Like Greenwich Villagers Writers Dont Exist In A Vacuum They Have Masters And Disciples And Casual Readers In Periods Of Change They Aresensitive And Barometric Than The Other Professions So, The Story Of The Lost Generation And Its Return From Exile Would Be Something Else Besides It Would Help To Suggest The Story Of The American Educated Classes, What Some Of Them Thought About In The Boom Days And How They Reached The End Of An Era.The Book That Was Published In 1934 Fell Considerably Short Of Those Aims, And I Am Grateful To The Viking Press For Giving Me This Opportunity To Revise It I Hate To Write And Love To Revise, And The First Edition Of Exiles Return Gave Me Plenty Of Scope For Practicing My Favorite Trade Of Revisionist When I Reread The Book Carefully For The First Time In Years, I Realized How Many Gaps There Were In The Story The Chapter On Harry Crosby Was One Example It Had Meaning In Itself But I Had Failed To Show Its Connection With The Rest Of The Narrative The Intimate Reason For That Failure Was Clear Enough, In 1951 I Had Written At Length About The Life Of Harry Crosby, Whom I Scarcely Knew, In Order To Avoid Discussing Therecent Death Of Hart Crane, Whom I Knew So Well That I Still Couldnt Bear To Write About Him.The Whole Conclusion Of The Book Was Out Of Scale With The Beginning And There Were Also The Political Opinions That Intruded Into The Narrative I Had To Explain To Myself, Before Explaining To The Reader, That The Book Was Written In The Trough Of The Depression, When There Seemed To Be An Economic Or Political Explanation For Everything That Happened To Human Beings The Trough Of The Depression, I Have Just Said, Taking The First Phrase That Came Into My Mind But Actually The Years 1933 And 1934 Were A Madly Hopeful Time When It Seemed That Great Changes In The Economic System Were Already Under Way Russia In Those Days Didnt Impress Us As A Despotism Or As The Great Antagonist In A Struggle For World Power It Was Busy Within Its Own Boundaries Trying To Create What Promised To Be A Happier Future We Are Changing The World The Young Pioneers Used To Chant As They Marched Through The Streets Of Moscow Here Too It Seemed That Everybody Was Trying To Change The World And Create The Future It Was The Special Pride And Presumption Of The Period We Hadnt Learned Thennor Have Most Of Our Statesmen Learned Todaythat Human Society Is Necessarily Imperfect And May Disappear From The Earth Unless It Comes To Accept What T S Eliot Calls The Permanent Conditions Upon Which God Allows Us To Live Upon This Planet.The Adventures And Attitudes Shared By The American Writers Dubbed The Lost Generation , Are Brought To Life In This Book Of Prose Works Feeling Alienated In The America Of The 1920s, Fitzgerald, Crane, Hemingway, Wilder, Dos Passos, Cowley And Others Escaped To Europe, As Exiles.Forthan Seventy Years, Penguin Has Been The Leading Publisher Of Classic Literature In The English Speaking World Withthan 1,700 Titles, Penguin Classics Represents A Global Bookshelf Of The Best Works Throughout History And Across Genres And Disciplines Readers Trust The Series To Provide Authoritative Texts Enhanced By Introductions And Notes By Distinguished Scholars And Contemporary Authors, As Well As Up To Date Translations By Award Winning Translators.

Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s

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