Over the past week or so, with all the rain we’ve gotten, I’ve been doing a great deal of reading. No, C’mon, you remember… not that thing we used to have to do for school, but the pure and simple feeling of losing yourself in a story, fiction or non-fiction. I re-awoken that feeling in myself, that was planted in me as a child when I was initially introduced to it. Before Facebook, before we were able to stream anything & everything we could ever hope to watch on our phones, where ever we are? Look, I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I love technology. I appreciate good movies, shows, and having them all in my pocket. It’s easy to forget that there was a world before us, with people who thought… who knew that they were revolutionizing and shaping the world around them, some of those changing it, page by page, book by book, and it’s worth it, now and then to stop and look into that world. Because while I believe that we can’t dwell on the past, I find it’s also true that we cannot forget it, either. And that we must pass it down to the next generation, and them to theirs, and so on.
‘You are all a lost generation.’
– Gertrude Stein (in conversation)”
from the foreword of ‘The Sun Also Rises’ – Ernest Hemmingway
“…in an eighth notebook…inside he wrote the header, “The lost generation, a novel, foreword.”
Hemmingway recounted an incident that Stein had just relayed to him. She’d recently stopped by a garage to have some work done on her ancient Ford. Four young mechanics were assisting the garage owner. One of them impressed Stein with his skill, and she’d quizzed the owner about how he’d managed to find such good help.
“I thought you couldn’t get boys to work, anymore,” she’d said
The owner replied that one simply could not hire anyone between the ages of 22 & 30. The anecdote reminded her of Hemmingway’s whole circle of contemporaries.
“That’s what you are,” She declared. “That’s what all of you are. All of you young people who served in the war, you are a lost generation.”
Members of this “unfortunate demographic could be easily identified by their lack of respect and lethal drinking habits,” she added.
This anecdote would completely change the prism through which the entire book would be seen, Hemmingway reasoned. He eventually axed, ‘The Lost Generation’, as a title and even did away with the long treatise like foreword, but he held fast to the sentiment of the foreword, condensing it into a brief epigraph that packed an even more powerful punch. “You are all a lost inspiration: Gertrude Stein.”
a.) ‘Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises’
- Novel by Lesley M. M. Blume
b.) Review: ‘Everybody Behaves Badly’ looks at how Hemingway …. https://www.tampabay.com/features/books/review-everybody-behaves-badly-looks-at-how-hemingway-transformed-fact/2282825
c.) Lost Generation – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_of_1914