Kay Boyle, forgotten political voice of the Lost Generation

When I was setting up all the profile pages about Lost Generation writers for this site, I was familiar in varying degrees with almost every one of them. And most of the ones that I had not heard of generally produced very few works and it seemed reasonable that they hadn’t crossed my path yet. One notable exception to this was Kay Boyle, who was completely unfamiliar to me.

Boyle was a novelist, short story writer, educator, and political activist. And notably, she wrote a ton. When I start to learn about someone new one of the things I often like to do is try to find footage of them in order to see their mannerisms, hear their voice, and then bring that voice into my head when I’m reading their actual words.

To that end, today I went in search of Kay Boyle on YouTube. Honestly, I didn’t find all that much, but there were a couple videos, and it was great to connect static bibliographies and the like with an actual person, and I’d like to share those clips below because for so prolific an author, she seems to be generally forgotten.

The first clip I found was her accepting an Honorary Doctorate at Bowling Green State University in 1985, in which she talks about The Revolution of The Word in the 1920s. Check it out:

Next, I found this compilation of clips which includes her, her son and daughter, and other writers. It’s a great little intro to this woman, who seems like she led a fascinating life and definitely seems to deserve more recognition.

Both clips were uploaded by Kelley Baker, who calls himself “The Angry Filmmaker.” Apparently he has been working on a documentary about Boyle for many years now, but as far as I can tell, it still remains unfinished. Hopefully she will be able to finish it up because it’s definitely something that I would love to watch.

Has anyone read any of Boyle’s works? If so what would you recommended I start with?

I love finding out how little I actually know about this time period, even though I’ve been greatly attracted to it for a long time. Here’s to finding out more and more!

Cover Art Collage – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

In today’s examination of cover art designs of Lost Generation novels, were going to look at Aldous Huxley’s classic work of dystopian fiction, Brave New World. First published in 1932, it tells of a future World State, where citizens are scientifically engineered to fit into an intelligence-based social hierarchy. His most famous work, Brave New World was ranked by Modern Library as number 5 on their list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

For our purposes today, however, we will focus on the cover art that has been used throughout the years. Goodreads list a total of 1,363 different editions of the work. Here are some of our favorites, starting with the first edition cover:

Brave New World collage

I really enjoy most of the covers that have been used for this work, especially the original, and the one below it. Of this is definitely a case where publishers have generally tried to use the artwork to reflect the story itself, as opposed to some works where the cover art is kind of mind boggling.

Clearly the emphasis has been on a futuristic feel, a somewhat mechanical vision, where humans are less than human. Only one of the images in our collage involves a human face, but it is more alien than human.

How do you feel about these designs? If you weren’t familiar with the story would any of them inspire you to pick them up and check the book out? Let us know below!

I know there is a new adaptation of Brave New World on Peacock. From what I’ve read it is very loosely based on the novel and was canceled after one season, neither of which fact has led me to look any further into it or give it a shot. Has anyone watched that would recommend it? While it’s a great novel, frankly my desire for anything dystopian has greatly been diminished during the last four years, not to mention this drawn out pandemic.

For a radically different dose of Huxley, check out his first novel Crome Yellow, which I recently finished. Interestingly, there is a conversation in it which foreshadows the society Huxley envisioned in Brave New World, which we’ll be looking at in a future post.

Until then, happy reading!

Rare footage of F. Scott Fitzgerald

With the all pervasiveness of cameras everywhere we go these days, it can be easy to forget that it’s a very modern phenomenon. 100 years ago you could walk around any street and not worry about cameras filming your every move. Obviously there have been some benefits to this, but for me I’d rather return to a time there wasn’t always an eye on me. But I digress.

In searching for footage of my favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, I found very, very little that survives. But that just makes the few clips that are out there worth all that much more. To see him move and smile, interact with Zelda and Scottie, is just a treasure. Here’s all I could find, if you know of any more please me know with either a comment below or an email at onehundredfalsestarts@gmail.com.

First is a clip of him and Zelda is Paris, around 1924-25.

Next, a short clip of him writing that appears to be from an old newsreel.

Lastly, a compilation by YouTube user John Hall. It has parts of the above clips but a few others as well. Great, great stuff.

I hope there are others out there who enjoyed these as much as I did. And hopefully there are more clips floating around somewhere that I just don’t know about 🙂

Cover Art Collage – A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Happy Sunday everybody!

In today’s examination of cover art designs of Lost Generation novels, were going to look at Ernest Hemingway’s second novel, A Farewell to Arms, published in 1929. Set during World War I it follows the story of Frederic Henry, a lieutenant in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. The main storyline deals with the romance between Henry and English nurse Catherine Barkley.

Goodreads lists a total of 1,506 different editions of this novel. Let’s take a look at some of the cover art that’s been used throughout the years:

The upper left-hand corner image is the original cover art, designed by Cleonike “Cleon” Damianakes. He was also responsible for the cover art of Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises. Apparently Hemingway was not a fan, writing to his editor of this design, “I cannot admire the awful legs on that woman or the gigantic belly muscles [on the man].”

Personally I like this cover design, but it is arguable whether it is actually applicable to the story within. Many subsequent editions, not surprisingly, have used some sort of war image, or highlighted the romance of the story over everything else, like the second cover in this collage.

What are your thoughts? What should be the primary role of cover art? Is it all simply about marketing and convincing someone to buy the book, or is it more than that? Let us know below!

It’s currently a blizzard here in Chicago, which makes for excellent reading weather. I hope wherever you are, however the weather, you’re able to get in some quality reading today too.

Cheers!

Quotes from Aldous Huxley’s first novel, Crome Yellow (1921)

I recently finished reading Aldous Huxley‘s first novel, Crome Yellow (1921). For those who only know the author from Brave New World, this is very much a departure, focusing as it does on a young man’s summer holiday at an English country estate. Using this as a premise, Huxley sets up a series of episodes satirizing the English country novel, as well as his nation and modern times in general. And yet, it actually contains what could easily be seen as a seed for Brave New World

In Chapter 22 a character named Mr. Scogan talks about how only madmen become great, that reasonable men never do. He details his beliefs of how saying man must wrestle power from the madmen, giving rise to the “Rational State.” This state, he says, will have “three main species,” – “the Directing Intelligences, the Men of Faith, and the Herd.” He says Denis (the main character) doesn’t fit into any of the three and would thus be killed.

Very interesting stuff indeed.

I’ve recently posted a detailed overview of the book, as well as detailed summaries of every chapter. In the future I foresee a number of posts related to this interesting novel, but for today I like to share some of my favorite quotes from the work, which I hope you enjoy – (Note: the page numbers correspond to the Bantam Books Classic edition, published in 1962)

“Two hours. One hundred and twenty minutes. Anything might be done in that time. Anything. Nothing. Oh, he had had hundreds of hours, and what had he done with them? Wasted them, split the precious minutes as though his reservoir were inexhaustible.” – (Page 1)

“A serious book about artists regarded as artists is unreadable; and a book about artists regarded as lovers, husbands, dipsomaniacs, heroes, and the like is really not worth writing again.” – (Page 13)

“Parallel straight lines, Denis reflected, meet only at infinity. He might talk forever of care-charmer sleep and she of meteorology till the end of time. Did one ever establish contact with anyone? We are all parallel straight lines.” – (Page 14)

“Things somehow seem more real and vivid when one can apply someone else’s ready-made phrase about them.” – (Page 16)

“One had a philosophy and tried to make life fit into it. One should have lived first and then made one’s philosophy to fit life… Life, facts, things were horribly complicated; ideas, even the most difficult of them deceptively simple. In the world of ideas everything was clear; in life all was obscure, embroiled. Was it surprising that one was miserable, horribly unhappy?” – (Page 17)

“I can take nothing for granted, I can enjoy nothing as it comes along. Beauty, pleasure, art, women – I have to invent an excuse, a justification for everything that’s delightful. Otherwise I can’t enjoy it with an easy conscience.” – (Page 18)

“At the present time the Anglican clergy wear their collars the wrong way round. I would compel them to wear, not only their collars, but all their clothes, turned back to front–coat, waistcoat, trousers, boots–so that every clergyman should present to the world a smooth façade, unbroken by stud, button, or lace. The enforcement of such a liivery would act as a wholesome deterrent to those intending to enter the Church.” – (Page 34-35)

“‘This adolescence business,’ he repeated to himself every now and then, ‘is horribly boring.’ But the fact that he knew his disease did not help him to cure it.” – (Page 45)

“Eccentricity… It’s the justification of all aristocracies. It justifies a leisured classes and inherited wealth and privilege and endowments and all the other injustices of that sort. If you’re to do anything reasonable in this world, you must have a class of people who are secure, safe from public opinion, safe from poverty, leisured, not compelled to waste their time in the imbecile routines that go by the name of Honest Work.” – (Page 50)

“After all, what is reading but a vice, like drink or venery or any other form of excessive self-indulgence? One reads to tickle and amuse one’s mind; one reads, above all, to prevent oneself thinking.” – (Page 70)

“You’re in time to answer a question,” said Mr. Scogan. “We were arguing whether Amour were a serious matter or no. What do you think? Is it serious?”
“Serious?” echoed Ivor. “Most certainly.”
“I told you so,” cried Mary triumphantly.
“But in what sense serious?” Mr. Scogan asked.
“I mean as an occupation. One can go on with it without ever getting bored.”
“I see,” said Mr. Scogan. “Perfectly.”
“One can occupy oneself with it,” Ivor continued, “always and everywhere. Women are always wonderfully the same. Shapes vary a little, that’s all.” – (Page 74-5)

“Since the war we wonder at nothing. We have created a Caesarean environment and a host of Little Caesars has sprung up. What could be more natural?” – (Page 77)

“One is always alone in suffering; the fact is depressing when one happens to be the sufferer, but it makes pleasure possible for the rest of the world.” – (Page 77)

“The rising sun touched their faces. It was all extremely symbolic; but then, if you choose to think so, nothing in this world is not symbolical.” – (Page 102)

“One suffers so much,” Denis went on, “from the fact that beautiful words don’t always mean what they ought to mean.” – (Page 104)

“You are too much preoccupied with mere things and ideas and people to understand the full beauty of words. Your mind is not a literary mind.” – (Page 106)

“The technical, verbal part of literature is simply a development of magic. Words are man’s first and most grandiose invention.” – (Page 106)

“In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred women are as passive and innocent as the strawberries and cream.” – (Page 109)

“Whenever the choice has had to be made between the man of reason and the madman, the world has unhesitatingly followed the madman.” – (Page 111)

“If you want to get men to act reasonably, you must set about persuading them in a maniacal manner.” – (Page 112)

“It is humiliating to find how impotent unadulterated sanity is.” – (Page 112)

“Like every other good thing in this world, leisure and culture have to be paid for. Fortunately, however, it is not the leisured and the cultured who have to pay.” – (Page 116-17)

“Nature, or anything that reminds me of nature, disturbs me; it is too large, too complicated, above all too utterly pointless and incomprehensible.” – (Page 118)

“Would he ever be able to call his brain his own? Was there, indeed, anything in it that was truly his own, or was it simply an education?” – (Page 122)

“The trouble with the people and events of the present is that you never know anything about them.” – (Page 142)

“How gay and delightful life would be if one could get rid of all the human contacts! Perhaps, in the future, when machines have attained to a state of perfection – for I confess that I am, like Godwin and Shelley, a believer in perfectibility, the perfectibility of machinery – then, perhaps it will be possible for those who, like myself, desire it, to live in a dignified seclusion, surrounded by the delicate attentions of silent and graceful machines, and entirely secure from any human intrusion. It is a beautiful thought.” – (Page 142)

“Adventures and romance only take on their adventurous and romantic qualities at second-hand. Live them, and they are just a slice of life like the rest.” – (Page 144)

Aldous Huxley 1927
Aldous Huxley in 1927

Cover Art Collage – Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Hi everybody!

Like most readers, I’ve always been interested in the cover designs of books, especially novels. As the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but let’s be honest, we all do to a degree. And publishers know this, spending great time and effort trying to come up with an eye-catching cover. Sometimes this cover very clearly reflects some part of the story, but sometimes it gives no apparent information about what is contained within.

To this end I’ve been creating collages of the cover designs of Lost Generation novels. So far they’ve mostly just been on social media, but I’d like to start sharing them here as well.

Some other things I think about when it comes to novel cover designs –

  • Is this a good choice for the novel?
  • Is this design specifically targeting a certain audience?
  • Does this design reflect the time. The novel was actually published in or is it more reflective of the present day?
  • How has the cover art used for this novel changed over time?

With all that in mind I like to start this series by looking at some of the great covers that have been used for Sherwood Anderson‘s classic 1919 novel-in-stories, Winesburg, Ohio. Although Anderson is technically too old to be considered a part of the Lost Generation, his work, particularly this one, had a huge influence on slightly younger writers, especially Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.

Let’s take a look –

These covers span a number of years, but all have clearly focused on the fact that the stories revolve around a small town. Really, there hasn’t been a whole lot of change to these designs, but as you can see some choose to focus on much broader views while others bring it down to the individual level, all of which I find super interesting.

Goodreads lists a total of 607 editions of Winesburg, Ohio, and if you want to see more go here. And if you’re considering purchasing the book and would like to help us out at the same time, you can purchase the book through our shop (affiliate link) on Bookshop.org.

Until next time, happy reading!

Original recording of John Steinbeck reading his short story “Johnny Bear”

One thing that I really like to do on this site is hunt down original recordings of Lost Generation authors reading their own work. It wasn’t until I started this blog that I realized I had never heard any of these authors in their own voice. And so today here’s a great recording of John Steinbeck reading his short story “Johnny Bear.” This recording, made in 1953, was part of a full length album that included his short story “The Snake” on the other side.

“Johnny Bear” was originally published as “The Ears of Johnny Bear” in the September 1, 1937 edition of Esquire. (If you happen to have a subscription to Esquire you can read the original here. That same issue included F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story “The Long Way Out.” Not bad company.)

Set in the small California town of Loma, within the Salinas Valley, “Johnny Bear” deals with an idiot savant who was able to recall things that he hears perfectly, even if he doesn’t understand what they mean. He uses this trait in order to beg for his favorite thing at the local bar, whiskey. Through his recitations the town’s secrets become public knowledge, upending everything they believed about themselves.

It’s really great to hear Steinbeck read his own words, but I do have to say the reading is a bit stilted. It sounds like it might’ve been done in one take and not edited at all. Still, I think it’s well worth a listen – check it out below.

Upload credit to Henry Grossen

Ray Bradbury tries to save Ernest Hemingway

Well, with Christmas now behind us, it’s time to return to our regular posts about the Lost Generation. While listening to a Ray Bradbury short story collection I came across a very interesting one involving Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

My physical issues often make it very uncomfortable to hold a book for long and so I normally resort to using a book stand, which makes it much easier. However, in the last couple weeks I also started listening to audiobooks in order to take in a more diverse range of short stories. I check them out from the Chicago Public Library and since the selection is limited there are not many applicable to this site. One that I recently checked out, which I figured was like this, was Ray Bradbury’s 2002 collection One More for the Road.

And yet, towards the end of the collection there was a story entitled “The F. Scott/Tolstoy/Ahab Accumulator.” As there is only one “F. Scott” that I have ever heard of, I was immediately intrigued. The plot revolves around the creator of a time machine, who has decided to use it to go back in time to save doomed writers. The first of which he goes to is Ernest Hemingway in Idaho, where they have a conversation about how Hemingway should not kill himself. From there the protagonist travels to other writers as well, including F. Scott Fitzgerald.

While it’s not one of Bradbury’s deepest stories, or anywhere close to it, the plot was close to my heart and it was a delight to listen to. Recommended for fans of doomed writers everywhere!

Christmas in the 1920s: The Music

With Christmas almost here I realized I never highlighted that most important part of any ambience – the music! And music is something the 1920s was certainly not devoid of. It wasn’t called the Jazz Age for nothing! So today, let’s listen to some classic Christmas music from that time period. Gather the kids around the tree, light a fire, and take a trip back in history. So many of the songs that we still listen to and sing today Christmas were around 100 years ago, and here are some great old recordings. Thank you to all the great YouTube users who made these videos!

Credit: Lindsay Holiday
Credit: Pax41 Music Time Machine
Credit: Pax41 Music Time Machine

1920s Inspired Women’s Holiday Party Shopping Guide

Hello everyone, this is my first time posting to this site so I thought I would take a second to introduce myself. My name is Cori and I’m Gregory’s fiancée. He has kindly invited me to start doing a couple post every now and then on here about the aspect of the 1920s that is of most interest to me: Fashion. The 20s were a huge turning point in both men’s and women’s wear and I thought it would be fun to occasionally delve into the closet of the past and share some of the history, influence, and flare that this decade gave to the world. For this first post though, we will look at some modern looks inspired by the time.

Glamour and wild parties are often some of the first things that come to mind when people think of the 1920s. Even with alcohol being prohibited, people of the period still knew how to have a great time. Seeing as the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would put together a list of my favorite 1920s party outfits that are available today. Even though the parties will look a bit different this year than they did a hundred years ago, that doesn’t mean when can’t get all dolled up and ring in 2021 like it’s 1921 in the safety of our homes. So if your in the market for a last minute holiday party outfit inspired by the Jazz age, look no further.

Just a note, we here are not affiliated with any of the websites mentioned in this post and all of the images belong to them. 

ModCloth

            Let’s start with ModCloth.com. They are always a go to when seeking out beautiful vintage inspired looks. Though this year their 20s inspired looks are a bit limited, they have a couple great options. 

All You Bead is Love Maxi Dress- $169 

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This longer black beaded number is a beautiful and simple option for any occasion this holiday season. I love that there is so much detail on the top, which means that paired with a great finger waved updo and feathered headband, you will stand out on any Zoom parties you attend.

Magnificence Beneath the Midnight Fireworks Shift Dress – $139 

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Is there anything more comfortable than a shift dress? I mean, a good argument could be made for sweatpants but no respectable flapper would have been caught dead dressing down for a party. I love the Art Deco inspired sequin details on this one and think It would look lovely with a pair of tights and t-strap heels. This is also a great option if your looking for something a that could be styled a little more modern as well. 

ModCloth is running some incredible sales right now in the days leading up to Christmas, so if you like one of these, act quickly and you may be able to snap them up on discount. 

Unique Vintage 

Now lets take a look at my absolute favorite place for vintage inspired looks. Unique Vintage currently has an amazing selection of 1920s garb. Not only do they have a huge selection of dresses, they also have 1920s inspired shoes, bags, headwear, and jewelry, making it a perfect one stop shop for all your holiday party needs. 

Black Beaded Fringe Sleeve Nadine Flapper Dress- $78

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If your going to do the 1920s, you’ve got to have fringe and this dress does fringe right. This one is my personal favorite option out there right now. It’s the perfect blend of elegant and glamorous and with lots of accessories, I think this is the perfect flapper inspired look. 

Gold and Sequin Black Fringe Katriane Flapper Dress- $98 

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Black, Gold, Sequins, and Fringe. Well this one is a stunner. Pair this with a bold lip, dark eye, and a gin and tonic and you might just find yourself transported straight back to a speakeasy party. 

Deco Green & Black Sequin Veronique Fringe Flapper Dress-  $98 

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My last dress pick from Unique Vintage is this beautiful green and black fringed number. The green color reminds me of Kira Knightly’s famous dress from Atonement, yet the details make this one perfect for a 1920 soirée. 

Black Mesh and Gold Sequin Beaded Caplet- $42 

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This is a great option for those who are on a budget or if your attending a zoom party that you intend to be seated for. Throw this beautiful caplet over a simple tank dress, slap some make-up on and finger wave your hair and no one will be the wiser that your only dolled up on your top half 😉 

Accessories 

Now lets talk accessories. The 20s were the age of excess, so women of the time left no part of their person un-accessorized. As I mentioned above, Unique Vintage is a great place to find everything needed to complete your get up. Here are a few of my favorites from their collection. 

 1920 Style Black Beaded Top Frame Flapper Purse- $72

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This site as a ton of beautiful bags but I went with this simple yet stunning black option as I think it will go with all of the looks above and could even be worn with many modern glam looks, giving you more bang for your buck 

Black Patent Leatherette Peep Toe T-Strap Everly Pumps- $48

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Just like the bag above, I went with this simple yet classic option for their overall versatility. Also a huge bonus that they are vegan and that the heel isn’t too high so you can dance the night away. 

Black Ostrich Feather & and Silver Crystal Plummet Headband- $34

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No 20s look is complete without a headband and I love the sparkles on this one. 

Black Satin 23” Opera Gloves- $18

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Is there anything more elegant than a pair of opera gloves? 

Silver Rhinestone Fan & Ivory Pearl Drop Earrings- $32 

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I will be the first to admit that I’m not a jewelry type of gal, yet even my simple heart wants a pair of these Art Deco inspired earrings. 

Ivory 60” Long Pear Necklace- $22

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Few things are as synonymous with the Flapper look as long layers of pearls. Real strings of pearls might break the bank but this strand is a nice budget friendly option. 

So there you have it folks, my top picks for 1920s inspired holiday fashions. I hope some of you found it helpful. I plan to do more of these types of posts in the future, like a fully vintage shopping guide, as well as some deep dives into the history and influence of the clothes of this decade. Maybe even some breakdowns of the styles of important trendsetters of the era (Zelda, I’m looking at you). So stay tuned to this space and follow us on Social media for the latest updates. 

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!