Many writers also met important issues head on. In The
Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton dramatized the clash
between traditional and modern values that had under-
mined high society 50 years earlier. Willa Cather celebrated
the simple, digniﬁed lives of people such as the immigrant
farmers of Nebraska in My Ántonia, while Edna St.
Vincent Millay wrote poems celebrating youth and a life
of independence and freedom from traditional constraints.
Some writers such as Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway,
and John Dos Passos were so soured by American culture
that they chose to settle in Europe, mainly in Paris.
Socializing in the city’s cafes, they formed a group that the
writer Gertrude Stein called the Lost Generation. They
joined other American writers already in Europe such as the
poets Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, whose poem The Waste
Land presented an agonized view of a society that seemed
stripped of humanity.
Several writers saw action in World War I, and their
early books denounced war. Dos Passos’s novel Three Soldiers
attacked war as a machine designed to crush human free-
dom. Later, he turned to social and political themes, using
modern techniques to capture the mood of city life and the
losses that came with success. Ernest Hemingway,
wounded in World War I, became the best-known expatriate
author. In his novels The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to
Arms, he criticized the gloriﬁcation of war. He also intro-
duced a tough, simpliﬁed style of writing that set a new lit-
erary standard, using sentences a Time reporter compared to
“round stones polished by rain and wind.”
During this rich literary era, vital developments were
also taking place in African-American society. Black
Americans of the 1920s began to voice pride in their her-
itage, and black artists and writers revealed the richness of
The Roaring Life of the 1920s 451
Why did some
person who has
residence in a
F. S C O TT F I T Z GE R A L D
F. S c o t t F it zg e r a l d m a r ri ed viv a -
cious Zelda Sayre in 1920 after
his novel This Side of Paradise
became an instant hit. He said of
this time in his life:
“Riding in a taxi one afternoon
between very tall buildings under
a mauve and rosy sky,
I began to bawl because I had
everything I wanted and knew I
would never be so happy again.”
Flush with money, the couple
plunged into a wild social whirl
and outspent their incomes. The
years following were difﬁcult.
Zelda suffered from repeated
mental breakdowns, and Scott’s
battle with alcoholism took its toll.
•Charles A. Lindbergh
•F. Sc o t t F i t z g er al d
•Edna St. Vincent Millay
1. TERMS & NAMES For each of the following names, write a sentence explaining his or her signiﬁcance.
2. TAKING NOTES
Create a time line of key events
relating to 1920s popular culture.
Use the dates below as a guide.
In a sentence or two, explain which
of these events interests you the
most and why.
In what ways do you think the mass
media and mass culture helped
Americans create a sense of
national community in the 1920s?
Support your answer with details
from the text. Think About:
• the content and readership of
newspapers and magazines
• attendance at sports events and
• the scope of radio broadcasts
Do you think the popular heroes of
the 1920s were heroes in a real
sense? Why or why not?
In two or three sentences,
summarize the effects of education
and mass media on society in the
ture shallow and