Exile’s Return

Exile’s Return: A Narrative of Ideas is a 1934 book by Malcolm Cowley. A revised version with a new introduction, subtitled A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s, was published in 1951. A mix of autobiography and literary history, it traces the influences on the Lost Generation of writers and follows their development throughout the decade of the 1920s.

In the introduction Cowley outlines why he wrote the book, stating: “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.”1

Structure and chapter summary

The books is made up of 8 main sections:

  • Prologue: The Lost Generation
  • I. Mansions in the Air
  • II. War in Bohemia
  • III. Traveller’s Cheque
  • IV. Paris Pilgrimages
  • V. The Death of Dada
  • VI. The City of Anger
  • VII. The Age of Islands
  • VIII. Echoes of a Suicide
  • Epilogue: New Year’s Eve
  • Appendix: Years of Birth
  • Persons and Books: A Brief Index


For quotes from this book see Exiles Return quotes

See also

External links


  1. Cowley, Malcolm. Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s. New York: The Viking Press, 1969.
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