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The Expatriates of the 1920's

Uploaded by Alterac on Dec 03, 2002


1: to withdraw (oneself) from residence in or allegiance to one's native country
2: intransitive senses: to leave one's native country to live elsewhere; also: to renounce allegiance to one's native country
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Nothing before, or since has equaled the mass expatriation of the 1920’s. It was as if a great draft of wind picked up these very peculiar people and dropped them off in a European life style. Europe and the rest of the world were beginning to see a large population of these American expatriates. “… the younger and footloose intellectuals went streaming up the longest gangplank in the world.” (Cowley 79) Along with the intellectuals went the wealthy élite, the recent college graduates, the art students, and the recent war veterans aptly called “The Lost Generation”. Although many went all over the world, the largest density of these expatriates was in France. “Indeed, to young writers like ourselves, a long sojourn in France was almost a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” (Cowley 102)

Many expatriates flocked to Paris to follow forerunners in the movement such as Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Most of the expatriates wished to have an introduction to Gertrude Stein at her apartment. There they would discuss art, literature, and the ideals of America for hours on end. Gertrude Stein characterized the expatriates’ view of America when she said, “America is my country, and Paris is my home town”. (Stein) This idea, of having a place that you consider your home, but not your homeland, is the basis of the expatriate movement.

The writing of this era was influenced by a few things. With the new ideas of America, there also came much criticism of it to. After World War One, many Americans became somewhat dissatisfied with the way that their own country’s people and leaders acted. This was also a catalyst in the massive expatriation that occurred. Also, it is speculated that many war veterans could have developed various and unknown disorders caused by the type of warfare in which they had taken part. The optimistic culture of The Roaring Twenties also could have been a factor in the attitudes towards America and the writing that developed from it.

Through a close study of the Expatriates, I will propose this list of probable influences towards the attitudes and writing that occurred. 1.) World War One, and the physical affects that it created among American and...

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Uploaded by:   Alterac

Date:   12/03/2002

Category:   American History

Length:   9 pages (2,070 words)

Views:   2507

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