Reading a Lost Generation

This evening I added my name to the American Lost Generation tour. I like serendipity to channel my reading, and dipping into William Faulkner seems fitting, given his influence on Simone de Beauvoir’s early novels. Sartre is quoted, in 1946:

The technique of Simone de Beauvoir, also, was inspired by Faulkner. Without him she never would have conceived the idea, used in Le Sang des Autres, of cutting the chronological order of the story and substituting instead a more subtle order, half logical, half intuitive. And as for me, it was after reading a book by Dos Passos that I thought for the first time of weaving a novel out of various, simultaneous lives, with characters who pass each other by without ever knowing one another and who all contribute to the atmosphere of a moment or of a historical period.

For the tour I plan to read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.

[Thanks to @sashasilverfysh of Sasha and The Silverfish who’s tweet provided the chance inspiration.]

10 thoughts on “Reading a Lost Generation

  1. >I look forward to reading for this 'event', too. I've chosen F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair", but perhaps if there's time I can include The Beautiful and The Damned as well. Doesn't this tour sound great? I'm looking forward to your review(s).

  2. >Looks like a great read along. I haven't read "As I Lay Dying", just "The Sound and The Fury". But I am a big Hemingway fan and have read most of his novels and most of Fitzgerald's novels and short stories. Also read a lot of Stein. I love this era of writing and the art that was being made. So fabulous. Looking forward to your thoughts on "As I Lay Dying".

  3. >Thanks, Bellezza, I'd love to hear your thoughts on F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is a brilliant idea for a literary immersion covering a period that I find enthralling.

  4. >Fiona, I share your admiration for Hemingway, whom I also read in depth, though I think I prefer his short stories to his novels. I've enjoyed "The Sound and the Fury," but read no other Faulkner. I'm ambivalent about Fitzgerald, and have not read Stein though have quite a few of her books in the collection (unread). It is a great era and sits so well with the de Beauvoir and Sartre I am currently reading.

  5. >I didn't know about the link between Faulkner and Beauvoir; that's so interesting. Makes me intrigued to read her fiction, which I have yet to dip into. I haven't read As I Lay Dying, but I studied Absalom, Absalom! at college and have read The Sound and the Fury a couple of times; I'd be very curious to see how she adapts some of the techniques he uses to her own sensibility, which strikes me as quite different. The American Lost Generation ex-pats borrowed so much from French culture, but you hardly ever hear about the exchange working in the opposite direction. Or I hardly ever do. Possibly because I don't read enough French literary criticism.I'm tentatively considering finally tackling Stein in earnest for this Classics Circuit.

  6. >Emily, I'm looking forward to As I Lay Dying, my second Faulkner after reading The Sound and the Fury several years ago.The excerpt in my post is from a brilliant magazine article (, and definitely suggests a strong mutual influence. I've read a reference in The Prime of Life to a subscription that de Beauvoir commenced with Shakespeare and Co., so I have assumed an involvement from Sylvia Beach.I've never tackle Stein, though certainly have her books. I'd love to read your thoughts on her work.

  7. >Ah, I'd love to dip into more Faulkner for this tour but I just don't have time. I hope you enjoy As I Lay Dying…it's a wonderful weird work. Or is that weirdly wonderful work? When I re-read it a few years ago I posted a chapter/section summary overview (who is "talking") in the online resources post on the book that may be helpful. Enjoy!

  8. >This is perfect. I am currently focused on Fitzgerald. I am, in turn, learning about more of the Lost Generation as I continue on my journey.I am not sure exactly which one I will be reading yet. I just completed the Beautiful and Damned and I am busy reading Tales of the Jazz Age.Bernice Bobs her Hair is one of his best.-Laurie

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