'As the publication of Joyce’s Ulysses suggested in 1922, the Parisian cultural scene was more permissive of literature which confronted established mores & codes of behavior. Culturally as well as morally, Paris in the 1920s remained one of the most exciting, sophisticated cities in the world. Capital of the avant-garde in all its forms including, Modernists, Cubists, Dadaists, Futurists, Expressionists & Surrealists. These were the years of Picasso & Modigliani, Braque & Duchamp, Stravinski, Satie, Diaghilev & Cocteau. Radical developments in the visual & performing arts were mirrored in the Continental literature of the time, from the surrealist shock tactics of André Bréton & Guillaume Apollinaire, to the textual experimentation of Joyce and Beckett. It was into this vibrant, inspiring foment of idea & innovation that the self-imposed exiles of America’s “Lost Generation” flung themselves. Young radicals like Ernest Hemingway, Hart Crane & Ezra Pound & a little later on, Henry Miller & Anais Nin, published some of their most powerful & controversial works in the city.
On the face of it the sobriquet of “Lost Generation” seems an odd collective description for a group of writers & artists who were among the brightest flowering of American literary talent yet to emerge on the international stage, yet depicted this generation as characterised by doomed youth, hedonism, uncompromising creativity & wounded—both literally & metaphorically—by the experience of war. To varying degrees, these virtues and vices were to be found in the life-story of nearly every member of the Lost Generation. Aside from their wild lifestyles, though, what is most striking is the astonishing range, depth & influence of work produced by this community of American expatriates in Paris'