Topic 55B – Lost generation: scott fitzgerald, john steinbeck and ernest hemingway. The narrative of william faulkner

Topic 55B – Lost generation: scott fitzgerald, john steinbeck and ernest hemingway. The narrative of william faulkner



2.1 Historical background

2.2 Concept of “Lost Generation”








Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, that emphasizes the period’s social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. Normality returned to politics in the wake of World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco peaked, and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 served to punctuate the end of the era, as The Great Depression set in. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching import, unprecedented industrial growth and accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle.

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, movies and radio proliferated ‘modernity’ to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality, in architecture as well as in daily life. At the same time, amusement, fun and lightness were cultivated in jazz and dancing, in defiance of the horrors of World War I, which remained present in people’s minds. The period is also often called “The Jazz Age“.

The term “Lost Generation” is applied to a group of American writers who were born at the beginning of this century and whose literary offspring coincided with the end of World War I. This term was created by the American writer Gertrud Stein, to refer to refer to the American writers she met in Paris, and it was used for the first time as an epigraph in Hemingway’s The Sun also Rises. The Lost Generation includes some of the best known American novelists of the period between the two wars. Besides Hemingway it includes Scott Fitzgerald and Dos Passos, while Steinbeck and Faulkner share some characteristics at the same time that they are creators of their own peculiar style. The role of these writers was very important for 20th century literature world-wide and this can be seen for example in the fact that some of them got the Nobel Prize. Furthermore, their works, either in the form of books or in the films that they have inspired are still well-known to the general public.

Why is the Lost Generation lost? It is lost in many senses. To begin with, its members were brought up to live in a world very different from the one they had to deal with. The 1st World War was one of the events that marked their careers, but also in many cases the experience of living in Europe, and the Depression. The generation belonged to a period of transition from values already fixed to values that had to be created.

In the following essay we will provide an analysis for the concept of “Lost Generation”. Then we will study in depth the lives and works of some of its main literary figures, that is to say, F. S. Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner.


2.1 Historical background

Before studying the literary achievements of some of the most important writers that conformed “The Lost Generation”, we are going to have a look at the historical panorama of the USA from the twenties to the forties, since most of the literary output of these writers takes place in this span of time.

Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, that emphasizes the period’s social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. Normality returned to politics in the wake of World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco peaked, and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 served to punctuate the end of the era, as The Great Depression set in. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching import, unprecedented industrial growth and accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle.

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, movies and radio proliferated ‘modernity’ to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality, in architecture as well as in daily life. At the same time, amusement, fun and lightness were cultivated in jazz and dancing, in defiance of the horrors of World War I, which remained present in people’s minds. The period is also often called “The Jazz Age“.

However, almost at the end of the decade the event known as “The Great Depressionobscures the happy mood of the previous years. The Great Depression (also known in the U.K. as the Great Slump) was a dramatic, worldwide economic downturn beginning in some countries as early as 1928. The beginning of the Great Depression in the United States is associated with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday. The depression had devastating effects in both the industrialized countries and those which exported raw materials. International trade declined sharply, as did personal incomes, tax revenues, prices and profits. Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by 40 to 60 percent. Mining and logging areas had perhaps the most striking blow because the demand fell sharply and there were few employment alternatives.

The other major event that marks the period is the Second World War. It was a worldwide military conflict, the amalgamation of what had initially been two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. This global conflict split the majority of the world’s nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis Powers. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the death of over 70 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

2.2 Concept of “Lost Generation”

According to The Oxford Companion to American Literature (James D. Hart, OUP, 1986), Lost Generation is the name applied to the disillusioned intellectuals and aesthetes of the years following World War I, who rebelled against former ideals and values but could not replace them only by despair or a cynical hedonism. The remark of Gertrude Stein “you are all a lost generation” addressed to Hemingway, was used as a preface to the latter’s novel The Sun Also Rises, which brilliantly describes an expatriate group typical of the Lost Generation.

But disillusionment was not new: Whitman and Sandburg had already expressed in their poems that the world had much ugliness and unhappiness. And though later Robert Frost wrote about happy country life, he could not avoid mentioning lonely farms, cold winters and all-too-brief summers, the imminence of failure, of the wilderness, of death — all give the sense of people living tensely. And still the scope, no matter how wide, was American.

Poetry was predominant in this period, and it was Wallace Stevens, one of the most accomplished poets of the American century, who indicated that American poetry had come of age. There was no longer a cultural lag where Europe was concerned. Indeed, Pound, Gertrude Stein and some other expatriates were prominent in the European avant-garde and beckoned on the rest. And American literature as a whole had become of age because poets and writers alike felt that there was a revolution in progress, that the strong connection with a previous generation was disappearing.

Now, poetry and fiction were not exactly synchronic. Not until the Armistice of 1918, the peacemaking of 1919 (and the 18th Amendment of the same year, which in theory made America a “dry nation”), did the American prose-writer appear to fully enter a new age. In some ways it was a continuation of earlier movements, but the writers themselves did not think so and they acknowledged little kinship with pre-war writers, except perhaps Theodore Dreiser. Thus, the post-war generation, the Lost Generation, began to be self-consciously aware of itself, though it is hard to estimate how much this belief of its uniqueness and of its problems was due to the war. No doubt, the war was an enormous event and the puzzling factor –to Europeans– is the disproportionate nature of its effect upon Americans. In duration or cost (in lives, money, spiritual exhaustion) it meant comparatively little; those in the Western Front saw action for a mere four or five months, and yet disgust at the war and revulsion from it were almost universal in America. Americans had entered the fight under the assurance that it was a crusade (“Lafayette, we are here”), or in the expectation of fun and heroics in the Old World at the government’s expense. They left the scene sure that they had been duped, that it was not, after all, their war. Many Europeans experienced and wrote of a similar disillusionment, but the American recoil was sharper: things commonly believed in were false; the “artist” was isolated from the rest of society — these ideas were, in general, adopted as axioms by the writers of the Lost Generation. But there were other Americans that also agreed with them that the war had been futile and horrible, that Prohibition was a mistake, that sex was important, that life in Paris was more stimulation than back home. They liked to have such topics described to them in economical prose and so they recognised in the style of, for example, Ernest Hemingway, something not too far removed from the newspaper column of their favourite sports writer.

In these post-war years the cry of the writer was for liberty, basically liberty for self-expression and in this respect Freud contributed more than Marx to the ideology of the period, though the Marxian gospel did not seem incompatible. In this new trend, people must walk out of marriages that ceased to be satisfying sexually or socially. The individual must go barefoot, metaphorically and even literally, civilisation was oppressive and, by contrast, the primitive was exalted. Thus, the Negro, with his “dark laughter”, was envied as black America supposedly held the clue to the art of living that the white world had forgotten. But still this state of “the coming of age” was not perfected, though Sherwood Anderson (1876 – 1941) had tried to find the way. It was Ernest Hemingway the one who attempted to avoid the orthodoxies of the American scene and to set his characters, even when they were Americans, in other contexts.

3 F. SCOTT FITZGERALD (1896 – 1940)

American short-story writer and novelist, known for his depictions of the Jazz Age (the 1920s). With the glamorous Zelda Sayre (1900-48), Fitzgerald lived a colourful life of parties and money-spending. At the beginning of one of his stories Fitzgerald wrote the rich “are different from you and me”. This privileged world he depicted in such novels as The Beautiful and the Damned (1922) and The Great Gatsby (1925), which is widely considered Fitzgerald’s finest novel.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St Paul, Minnesota of mixed Southern and Irish descent. The family moved regularly, but settled finally in 1918 in St. Paul. At the age of 18 Fitzgerald fell in love with the 16-year-old Ginevra King, the prototype of Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald started to write at St. Paul Academy. His first published story, ‘The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage’ appeared in 1909 in Now and Then. Fitzgerald entered in 1913 Princeton University, where he failed to become a football hero. He left his studies in 1917 because of his poor academic records, and took up a commission in the US Army. His experiences during World War I were more peaceful than Hemingway’s – he never saw action and even did not go to France. The Romantic Egoist, a novel started in Princeton, was returned from Scribner’s with an encouraging letter.

Demobilised in 1919, Fitzgerald worked briefly in New York for an advertising agency. His first story, ‘Babes in the Wood,’ was published in The Smart Set. Fitzgerald received from it thirty dollars and bought with the money a pair of white flannels. The turning point in his life was when he met in 1918 Zelda Sayre, herself as aspiring writer, and married her in 1920. In the same year appeared Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise , in which he used material from The Romantic Egoist. Its hero, Amory Blaine, studies in Princeton, serves in WW I in France. At the end of the story he finds that his own egoism has been the cause of his unhappiness. The book gained success which the Fitzgeralds celebrated energetically in parties. Zelda danced on people’s dinner tables. Doors opened for Fitzgerald into literary magazines, such as Scribner’s and The Saturday Evening Post, which published his stories in a collection titled Flappers and Philosophers (1920) and Tales of the Jazz Age (1922). The term “flapper” refers to the modern young ladies of that period who smoked, drank whisky and lived dangerously free lives. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz remains among his best stories of this stage. It tells us about an evil family whose great wealth causes them to become crazy. When confronted with danger –there is an earthquake and the family diamond mine begins to collapse– Old Braddock Washington tries to save it by bribing God, as he is convinced that even “God has his price, of course”. His style is simple but graceful and his central theme is the life of the of the rich during the 20’s and their world of wild parties. The protagonists of his stories are what he called the aristocracy of wealth. He was fascinated with the magic properties of wealth and all it could buy. He projected himself in his characters, full of extravagant dreams who have no desire to develop or to grow old. Although his characters were frivolous and his life was also frivolous he regarded himself as a professional writer and his work was carefully constructed.

Fitzgerald’s debts started to grow, and Zelda discovered that she was pregnant – the baby was born in 1921. The Beautiful and Damned, Fitzgerald’s second novel, depicted Anthony Patch, an intelligent, sensitive but weak man. He spends his grandfather’s money in drinking. In the end of the novel he has lost with his wife, Gloria, illusions of beauty and truth. The work was less well received and in 1924 Fitzgerald moved to Europe. There he associated with such writers as Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway.

The Great Gatsby received excellent reviews but the book did not make the money Fitzgerald expected. He was drunk long periods. Dramatized version of the book opened at the Ambassador Theatre in New York on February 2, 1926. The play’s success made possible the sale of Gatsby to the movies. The first film adaptation was made in the same year, directed by Herbert Brenon.

The setting of The Great Gatsby is New York City and Long Island during the 1920s. Nick Carraway, the narrator, works as a bond broker in Manhattan. He becomes involved in the life of his neighbour at Long Island , Jay Gatsby, shady and mysterious financier, who is entertaining hundreds of guests at lavish parties. Gatsby reveals to Nick, that he and Nick’s cousin Daisy Fay Buchanan, had a brief affair before the war. However, Daisy married Tom Buchanan, a rich but boring man of social position. Gatsby lost Daisy because he had no money, but he is still in love with her. He persuades Nick to bring him and Daisy together again. “You can’t repeat the past,” Nick says to him. Gatsby tries to convince Daisy to leave Tom, who, in turn, reveals that Gatsby has made his money from bootlegging. “They’re a rotten bunch,” Nick shouts to Gatsby. “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” Daisy, driving Gatsby’s car, hits and kills Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson, unaware of her identity. Gatsby remains silent to protect Daisy. Tom tells Myrtle’s husband it was Gatsby who killed his wife. Wilson murders Gatsby and then commits suicide. Nick is left to arrange Gatsby’s funeral, attended only Gatsby’s father and one former guest.

During the next five years the Fitzgeralds travelled between Europe and America several times. To support his expensive life style with Zelda, he frequently interrupted his work on his novels to write short stories and brought high fees from the popular magazines. Fitzgerald’s stormy relationship with Zelda is told in his novel The Crack-Up (1945). For a few months in 1927, and then again in 1931 and 1932, Fitzgerald worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter. Between Tender is the Night (1934), and The Crack-Up’(1936) Fitzgerald wrote little. In the middle thirties he had lost his illusions and believed he had not produced first-rate books. Tender is the Night appeared in the 30’s. The action takes place in Europe, in the French Riviera. Dick Diver, the protagonist, has disintegrated from too much money and domestic problems and he returns to America not out of repentance, but to hide from his failure. Although it is superior technically and it incorporates a wider range of characters than The Great Gatsby the novel was dismissed at the time for dealing with a similar background to the one in The Great Gatsby when the novels were more involved in the social problematic.

Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and Zelda’s mental breakdown attracted wide publicity in the 1930s. Fitzgerald learned that each breakdown made her final recovery less likely. His dependence on alcohol increased and in a letter to a friend he wrote: “A short story can be written on a bottle, but for a novel you need mental speed that enables you to keep the whole pattern in your head and ruthlessly sacrifice as Ernest did in “Farewell to Arms.” If a mind is slowed up ever so little it lives in the individual part of a book rather than in a book as a whole; memory is dulled.” He returned to Hollywood in 1937, where he met Sheilah Graham, a gossip columnist, with whom he lived for the rest of his life. Fitzgerald worked on various screenplays, but completed only one, Three Comrades (1938), before he was fired because of his drinking.

In 1939 Fitzgerald began a novel about Hollywood, The Last Tycoon , loosely based on the life of Irving Thalberg. Fitzgerald died on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, in Graham’s apartment, before the book was finished. Zelda Sayre died in a hospital fire in 1948. Their tragedy was basis Fitzgerald’s novel Tender is the Night, which he revised repeatedly. His tortuous marriage was commented upon by Hemingway in A Moveable Feast (1964). In Tender is the Night a brilliant psychiatrist, Dick Diver, falls in love with a rich, beautiful mental patient, Nicole Warren. He marries her, and loses his idealism and potential for a great career, but Nicole, having battened on Dick’s strength and love for ten years, emerges victorious.

4 JOHN STEINBECK (1902 – 1968)

American novelist, story writer, playwright, and essayist. John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. He is best remembered for The Grapes of Wrath (1939), a novel widely considered to be a 20th-century classic. The impact of the book has been compared to that of Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Steinbeck’s epic about the migration of the Joad family, driven from its bit of land in Oklahoma to California, provoked a wide debate about the hard lot of migrant labourers, and helped to put an agricultural reform into effect.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California. His native region of Monterey Bay was later the setting for most of his fiction. “We were poor people with a hell of a lot of land which made us think we were rich people,” the author once recalled. Steinbeck’s father was a county treasurer. From his mother, a teacher, Steinbeck learned to love books. Among his early favorites were Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory.

Steinbeck attended the local high school and worked on farms and ranches during his vacations. To finance his education, he held many jobs and sometimes dropped out of college for whole quarters. Between 1920 and 1926, he studied marine biology at Stanford University, but did not take a degreehe always planned to be a writer. Several of his early poems and short stories appeared in university publications. After spending a short time as a labourer and reporter in New York City for the American, Steinbeck returned to California. While writing, Steinbeck took odd jobs. He was apprenticehood-carrier, apprentice painter, caretaker of an estate, surveyor, and fruit-picker. During a period, when he was as a watchman of a house in the High Sierra, Steinbeck wrote his first book, Cup of Gold (1929). It failed to earn back the $250 the publisher had given him in an advance.

Pastures of Heaven (1932) and The Long Valley (1938) were short story collections, in which the Salinas valley played similar mythical role as the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County in Faulkner‘s works, based largely on his hometown of Oxford, in Lafayette County, Mississippi. In the novel To a God Unknown (1933) Steinbeck mingled Ricketts’ ideas with Jungian concepts and themes, which had been made familiar by the mythologist Joseph Campbell. The novel depicts a farmer, Joseph Wayne, who receives a blessing from his pioneer father, John Wayne, and goes to build himself a new farm in a distant valley. Joseph develops his own beliefs of death and life, and to bring an end to a drought, he sacrifices himself on a stone, becoming “earth and rain”. Steinbeck did not want to explain his story too much and he knew beforehand that the book would not find readers.

Steinbeck’s first three novels went unnoticed, but his humorous tale of pleasure-loving Mexican-Americans, Tortilla Flat (1935), brought him wider recognition. In Dubious Battle (1936) was a strike novel set in the California apple country. The strike of nine hundred migratory workers is led by Jim Nolan, devoted to his cause. Before his death Jim confesses: “I never had time to look at things, Mac, never. I never looked how leaves come out. I never looked at the way things happen.” One of the characters, Doc Burton, a detached observer, Steinbeck partly derived from his friend Ed Ricketts. Later Steinbeck developed his observer’s personality with changes in such works as Cannery Row (1945), which returned to the world of Tortilla Flat. The novel was an account of the adventures and misadventures of workers in a California cannery and their friends. Its sequel, Sweet Thursday, appeared in 1954.

The events of The Red Pony (1937) take place on the Tiflin ranch in the Salinas Valley, California. The first two sections of the story sequence, “The Gift” and “The Great Mountains”, were published in the North American Review in 1933, and the third section, “The Promise,” did not appear in Harpers until 1937. With “The Leader of the People,” the four sections are connected by common characters, settings, and themes. Through each story, the reader follows Jody’s initiation into adult life, in which the pony of the title functions as a symbol of his innocence and maturation. A movie version, for which Steinbeck wrote the screenplay, was made in 1949. Among Steinbeck’s other film scripts is The Pearl, the story for Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), and the script for Elia Kazan’s Viva Zapata! (1952), starring Marlon Brando.

In the early 30’s the first reaction to the Depression was a literature of social protest, and there was a powerful Marxist Proletarian Literature movement. Many of the writers of the period were Jewish and they described the failure of the “American Dream” for those who had left Europe looking for a new and better life. They wanted to keep a record of the time, to get it all down on paper so as not to leave their story in the hands of historians and the editors of picture books.

The work of John Steinbeck represents a similar attempt to “get it all down on paper”. His novels are opposite in many respects to those of Fitzgerald and Hemingway. He started to write in the 30’s, and he presented the lower part of society, those who lost the little they had with the Depression, the world of those who had no money and had to fight to eat and survive. Steinbeck is described as a regionalist and as a naturalist.

He is a regionalist because he represents the nostalgia for the primitive and the reaction against urbanisation making use of his region in central California. When his characters are established on the land they are hard-working and good-hearted, but when their agricultural activities are disturbed tragedy and bitterness result. His rural heroes are illiterate and weak, but they are nevertheless noble and their suffering is poeticised. But his novels are also characterised by naturalism, since they are always faithful to the facts and even crude. The characters are driven by forces in themselves and in society such as fear, hunger and sex or by external forces such as the disasters of nature and the evils of capitalism.

However, the creative process simplifies and idealises the characters and gives universal significance to the story rather than leaving it at the concrete level of the documentary. Although he showed sympathy for workers and rural labourers, he did not offer a political solution to their problems in his novels.

Of Mice and Men (1937), a story of shattered dreams, became Steinbeck’s first big success. Steinbeck adapted it also into a three-act play, which was produced in 1937. George Milton and Lennia Small, two itinerant ranch hands, dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is large and simpleminded. Lennie loves all that is soft, but his immense physical strength is a source of troubles and George is needed to calm him. The two friends find work from a farm and start saving money for their future. Annoyed by the bullying foreman of the ranch, Lenny breaks the foreman’s arm, but also wakes the interest of the ranch owner’s flirtatious daughter-in-law. Lenny accidentally kills her and escapes into the hiding place, that he and George have agreed to use, if they get into difficulties. George hurries after Lenny and shoots him before he is captured by a vengeful mob but at the same time he loses his own hopes and dreams of better future. Before he dies, Lennie says: “Let’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.”

For The Grapes of Wrath the title originated from Julia Ward Howe’s The Battle Hymn of the Republic (1861)Steinbeck traveled around California migrant camps in 1936. When the book appeared, it was attacked by US Congressman Lyle Boren, who characterized it as “a lie, a black, infernal creation of twisted, distorted mind”. Later, when Steinbeck received his Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy called it simply “an epic chronicle.” The Exodus story of Okies on their way to an uncertain future in California, ends with a scene in which Rose of Sharon, who has just delivered a stillborn child, suckles a starving man with her breast. John Ford made a film version in 1940.

Fleeing publicity followed by the success of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck went to Mexico in 1940 to film the documentary Forgotten Village. During WW II, Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in Great Britain and the Mediterranean area. He wrote such government propaganda as the novel The Moon is Down (1942), about resistance movement in a small town occupied by the Nazis. Its film version, starring Henry Travers, Cedric Hardwicke, and Lee J. Cobb, was shot on the set of How Green Was My Valley (1941), which depicted a Welsh mining village. Steinbeck had visited Europe in 1937 after gaining success with Of Mice and Men, and met on a Swedish ship two Norwegians, with whom he had celebrated Norway’s independence day. In 1943 Steinbeck moved to New York City, his home for the rest of his life. His summers the author spent at Sag Harbor. He also travelled much in Europe.

Steinbeck’s twelve-year marriage to Carol Henning had ended in 1942. Next year he married the singer Gwyndolyn Conger; they had two sons, Thom and John. However, the marriage was unhappy and they were divorced in 1949. Steinbeck’s postwar works include The Pearl (1947), a symbolic tale of a Mexican Indian pearl diver Kino. He finds a valuable pearl which changes his life, but not in the way he did expect. Kino sees the pearl as his opportunity to better life. When the townsfolk of La Paz learn of Kino’s treasury, he is soon surrounded by a greedy priest, doctor, and businessmen. Kino’s family suffers series of disasters and finally he throws the pearl back into ocean. Thereafter his tragedy is legendary in the town. Thematically Hemingway‘s novella The Old Man and the Sea from 1952 has much similarities with this work.

A Russian Journal (1948) was an account of the author’s journey to the Soviet Union with the photographer Robert Capa. Steinbeck’s idea was to describe the country without prejudices, but he could not move freely, he could not speak Russian, and the Soviet hosts, perhaps by the order of Stalin himself, took care that there were more than enough vodka, champagne, caviar, chickens, honey, tomatoes, kebabs, and watermelons on their guest’s table.

In 1950 Steinbeck married Elaine Scott, the ex-wife Randolph Scott, a Western star. Steinbeck’s son John had problems in later years with drugs and alcohol; he died in 1991. East of Eden (1952), the title referring to the fallen world, is long family novel, is set in rural California in the years around the turn of the century. In the centre of the saga, based partly on the story of Cain and Abel, is two families of settlers, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, whose history reflect the formation of the United States. The second half of the story focus on the lives of the twins, Aron and Caleb, and their conflict. Between them is Cathy, tiny, pretty, but an adulteress and murderess.

Steinbeck wrote thousands of letters, sometimes several a day. To Pascal Covici, his friend, he confessed that he wanted to write the work to his sons, the story of good and evil, love and hate, to demonstrate to them how they are inseparable. His writing process Steinbeck recorded minutely in Journal of a Novel (1969).

In 1959 Steinbeck spent nearly a year at Discove Cottage in England, working with Morte d’Arthur, the first book he had read as a child. After returning to the United States, he travelled around his country with his poodle, Charley, and published in 1962 Travels with Charley in search of America. His son John wrote in his memoir that Steinbeck was too shy to talk to any of the people in the book.

The Winter of our Discontent (1961), set in contemporary America, was Steinbeck’s last major novel. The book was not well received, and critics considered him an exhausted. Not even the Nobel Prize changed opinions. The New York Times asked in an editorial, whether the prize committee might not have made a better choice. Steinbeck took this public humiliation hard. In later years he did much special reporting abroad, dividing his time between New York and California.

For a while, Steinbeck served as an advisor to President Lyndon B. Johnson, whose Vietnam policies he agreed with. At Camp the President asked Steinbeck to go to Vietnam to report on the war. Steinbeck wrote for the newspaper Newsday a series of articles, which divided his readers. The New York Post attacked him for betraying his liberal past.

5 ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1898 – 1961)

One of the most famous American novelist, short-story writer and essayist, whose deceptively simple prose style have influenced wide range of writers. Hemingway was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was unable to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm, because he was recuperating from injuries sustained in an airplane crash while hunting in Uganda.

Ernest Hemingway was born inn Oak Park, Illinois. He attended the public schools in Oak Park and published his earliest stories and poems in his high school newspaper. Upon his graduation in 1917, Hemingway worked six months as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. He then joined a volunteer ambulance unit in Italy during World War I. In 1918 he suffered a severe leg wound. For his service, Hemingway was twice decorated by the Italian government.

Hemingway’s affair with an American nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, during his hospital recuperation gave basis for the novel A Farewell to Arms (1929). The tragic love story was filmed first time in 1932, starring Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, and Adolphe Menjou.

After the war Hemingway worked for a short time as a journalist in Chicago. He moved in 1921 to Paris, where wrote articles for the Toronto Star. In Europe, the centre of modernist movement, Hemingway associated with such writers as Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who edited some of his texts and acted as his agent. Later Hemingway portrayed Fitzgerald in A Moveable Feast (1964), but less sympathetically. Fitzgerald, however, regretted their lost friendship. When he was not writing for the newspaper or for himself, Hemingway toured with his wife, the former Elisabeth Hadley Richardson, France, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1922 he went to Greece and Turkey to report on the war between those countries. In 1923 Hemingway made two trips to Spain, on the second to see bullfights at Pamplona’s annual festival.

Hemingway’s first books, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), of which he received no advance at all, and In Our Time (1924), were published in Paris. The Torrents of Spring appeared in 1926 and Hemingway’s first serious novel, The Sun also Rises , on the same year. The story, narrated by an American journalist, deals with a group of expatriates in France and Spain, members of the disillusioned post-World War I Lost Generation. Main characters are Lady Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes. Lady Brett loves Jake, who has been wounded in war and can’t answer her needs. Although Hemingway never explicitly detailed Jake’s injury, it seems that he has lost his testicles but not his penis. Jake and Brett and their odd group of friends have various adventures around Europe, in Madrid, Paris, and Pampalona. In attempt to cope with their despair they turn to alcohol, violence, and sex. The war has left an emptiness in the world that the characters try to fight living their lives as fully as possible. As Jake, Hemingway was wounded in WW I; they share also interest in bullfighting. Hemingway wrote and rewrote the novel in various parts of Spain and France between 1924 and 1926. It became his first great success. Although the Hemingway’s language is simple, he used understatement and omission which make the text multilayered and rich in allusions.

After the publication of Men without Women (1927), Hemingway returned to the United States, settling in Key West, Florida. Hemingway and Hadley divorced in 1927. On the same year Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer, a wealthy fashion editor. In Florida he wrote A Farewell to Arms, which was published in 1929. Its scene is the Italian front in World War I, where two lovers find a brief happiness. The novel gained enormous critical and commercial success.

In 1930s Hemingway wrote such major works as Death in the Afternoon (1932), a non-fiction account of Spanish bullfighting, and The Green Hills of Africa (1935), a story of a hunting safari in East Africa. “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” is perhaps the most quoted line from the story. To Have and Have not (1937) was made into a film by the director Howard Hawks. They had became friends in the late 1930s. The screenplay of the film was written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner.

One of Hemingway’s most frequently anthologized short stories is The Snows of Kilimanjaro, first published in Esquire in August 1936. It begins with an epitaph telling that the western summit of the mountain is called the House of God, and close to it was found the carcass of a leopard. Down on the savannah the failed writer Harry is dying of gangrene in an hunting camp. Just before the end, Harry has a vision, that he is taken up the see the top of Kilimanjaro on a rescue plane”great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun.” In the film version of the story, directed by Henry King, Harry does not die. Nick Adams, Hemingway’s autobiographical pre-World War II character, featured in three collections, In Our Time, Men Without Women, and Winner Take Nothing (1933).

In 1937 Hemingway observed the Spanish Civil war firsthand. As many writers, he supported the cause of the Loyalist. In Madrid he met Martha Gellhorn, a writer and war correspondent, who became his third wife in 1940. The first years of his marriage were happy, but he soon realized that Gellhorn was not a housewife, but an ambitious journalist. Gellhorn called Hemingway her “Unwilling Companion”. She was eager to travel and “take the pulse of the nation” or the world.

With To whom the Bell Tolls (1940) Hemingway returned again in Spain. He dedicated the book to Gellhorn. Maria in the story was partly modelled after her. The story covered only a few days and concerned the blowing up of a bridge by a small group of partisans. When the heroine in A Farewell to Arms dies at the end of the story, after giving birth to a stillborn child, now it is time for the hero, Robert Jordan, to sacrifice his life. Here we see also a change in that he is no longer writing about the individual alone, he is now interested in the relationship between people. Robert Jordan learns from his experiences to believe in the value of sacrifice. Each individual is a part of a whole mankind, and love becomes a wonderful and mysterious union.

In addition to hunting expeditions in Africa and Wyoming, Hemingway developed a passion for deep-sea fishing in the waters off Key West, the Bahamas, and Cuba. He also armed his fishing boat, the Pilar, and monitored with his crew Nazi activities and their submarines in that area during World War II. In 1940 Hemingway bought Finca Vigia, a house outside Havana, Cuba.

In early 1941 Gellhorn made with Hemingway a long, 30,000 mile journey to China. Just before the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, Hemingway managed to get to London, where he settled at the Dorchester Hotel.

Hemingway’s drinking had started already when he was a reporter, and could tolerate large amounts of alcohol. For a long time, drinking did not affect the quality of his writing. In the late 1940s he started to hear voices in his head, he was overweight, the blood pressure was high, and he had clear signs of cirrhosis of the liver. His ignorance of the dangers of liquor Hemingway revealed when he taught his 12-year-old son Patrick to drink. The same happened with his brothers. Patrick had later in life problems with alcohol. Gregory, who was a transvestite, used drugs. She died at the age of 69 in a women’s prison in Florida.

Across the River and Into the Trees, Hemingway’s first novel in a decade, was poorly received, but the allegorical 27,000 word story The Old Man and the Sea , published first in Life magazine in 1952, restored again his fame. The protagonist is an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago, who finally catches a giant marlin after weeks of disappointments. As he returns to the harbour, the sharks eat the fish, lashed to his boat. This novel presents the unequal fight of man against nature. Its themes are heroism, stoicism and ceremony.

In 1959 Hemingway visited Spain, where her met the famous bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominquín at a hospital. Hemingway planned to wrote another book of bullfighting but published instead A Moveable Feast, a memoir of the 1920s in Paris.

Much of his time Hemingway spent in Cuba until Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. He supported Castro but when the living became too difficult, he moved to the United States. While visiting Africa in 1954, Hemingway was in two flying accidents and was taken to a hospital. In the same year he started to write True at First Light , which was his last full-length book. Part of it appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1972 under the title African Journal.

In 1960 Hemingway was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for treatment of depression, and released in 1961. During this time he was given electric shock therapy for two months. On July 2 Hemingway committed suicide with his favourite shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. Several of Hemingway’s novels have been published posthumously. True at First Light, depiction of a safari in Kenya, appeared in July 1999. It is one of the worst books published by a Nobel writer.

Wallace Stevens once termed Hemingway “the most significant of living poets, so far as the subject of extraordinary reality is concerned.” By “poet” Stevens referred to the author’s stylistic achievements in his short fiction. Like Gertrude Stein, Hemingway applied techniques from modernist poetry to his writing, such as the artful use of repetition, although in lesser extent than Stein. Hemingway’s much quoted “ice-berg theory” was that “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader . . . will have a feeling of those things as though the writer had stated them.”

The simple style and careful structuring of Hemingway’s fiction is famous and its aim was to “get the most out of the least”. His sentences are usually short and simple, he only rarely uses adjectives, the language is seldom emotional. The aim of his language is to suggest a kind of stoicism, which is the same stoicism that is often the main theme in his stories. Most of his novels are thus very easy to read, therefore the careless reader often misses deeper meanings, because he mixes psychological realism with symbolism: a countryside destroyed by fire is a metaphor for a life after the war, and the “fire-scarred” land probably symbolises the war and the character’s terrible memories of it.

Most, not to say all, of Hemingway’s characters want to know how to live in the emptiness of the world. In his later writing he developed this emptiness into the important concept of “nada”. Sometimes we can see this “nada” as the loss of hope or the inability to become active in the real world. At other times it is the desire for sleep, or even an easy death. The typical Hemingway hero must always fight against the “nada” of the world, he must never give up trying to live as fully as possible.

A craftsman in words but not a city intellectual, he is a member of a secular order whose choice of career developed by stages towards the craft of fiction. It has often been said that he handicapped himself by dealing with violent action rather than the act of intelligence, he seems most at home with characters who say little and his code sometimes appears absurd and courage is confused with the assertion of maleness. Yet, Hemingway’s initial contribution, in novels and short stories, had an extraordinary influence upon others.

6 WILLIAM FAULKNER (1897 – 1962)

American short story writer, novelist, best known for his Yoknapatawpha Cycle, a comédie humaine of the American South, which started in 1929 with Sartoris / Flags in the Dust and completed with The Mansion in 1959. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Faulkner’s style is not very easyin this he has connections to European literary modernism. His sentences are long and hypnotic, sometimes he withholds important details, or refers to people or events that the reader will not learn about until much later.

William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, as the oldest of four sons. While he was still a child, the family settled in Oxford in north-central Mississippi. Faulkner lived most of his life in the town. About the age of 13, he began to write poetry. Before graduating, he dropped out school and worked briefly in his grandfather’s bank.

After being rejected from the army because he was too short, Faulkner enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and had basic training in Toronto. He served with the RAF in World War I, but did not see any action. The war was over before he could make his first solo flight. This did not stop him later telling that he was shot down in France. After the war he studied literature at the University of Mississippi for a short time. He also wrote some poems and drew cartoons for the university’s humour magazine, The Scream. Faulkner moved to New York City, where he worked as a clerk in a bookstore, and then returned to Oxford. For a time Faulkner supported himself as a postmaster at the University of Mississippi, but was fired for reading on the job. He drifted to New Orleans, where Sherwood Anderson encouraged him to write fiction rather than poetry.

The early works of Faulkner bear witness to his reading of Keats, Tennyson, Swinburne, and the fin-de-siècle English poetry. His first book was The Marble Faun (1924), a collection of poems. It did not gain success. After a hiatus in Paris, he published Soldier´s Pay (1926). The novel centred on the return of a soldier, who has been physically and psychologically disabled in WW I. It was followed by Mosquitoes, a satirical portrait of Bohemian life, artist and intellectuals, in New Orleans.

In 1929 Faulkner wrote Sartoris, the first of fifteen novels set in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional region of Mississippi ,actually Yoknapatawpha was Lafayette County. The Chickasaw Indian term meant “water passes slowly through flatlands.” Sartoris was later reissued entitled Flags in the Dust (1973). The Yoknapatawpha novels spanned the decades of economic decline from the American Civil War through the Depression. Racism, class division, family as both life force and curse, are the recurring themes along with recurring characters and places. Faulkner used various writing styles. The narrative varies from the traditional storytelling (Light in August ) to series of snapshots (As I lay dying ) or collage (The Sound and the Fury ). Go Down, Moses (1942) was a short story cycle about Yoknapatawpha blacks and includes one of Faulkner’s most frequently anthologized stories, ‘The Bear’, about a ritual hunt, standing as a symbol of accepting traditional cultural values.

Absalom, Absalom!, generally considered Faulkner’s masterpiece. It records a range of voices and vocabularies, all trying to unravel the mysteries of Thomas Sutpen’s violent life.

In 1929 Faulkner married Estelle Oldham Franklin, his childhood sweetheart, who had divorced his first husband. The same year he wrote The Sound and the Fury (1929), his first masterwork, Faulkner gained recognition as a writer. Its title originated from the famous lines in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”

While working at an electrical power station in a nightshift job, Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying (1930), about the illness, death, and burial of Addie Bundren. The book consists of interior monologues, most of them spoken by members of the Bundren family. The deceased herself has one monologue; her dying wish is to be buried in her home town. Struggling through flood and fire the family carries her coffin to the graveyard in Jefferson, Mississippi. Ultimately, the journey becomes Addie’s curse. Cash, Addie’s son, breaks his leg, Darl, another son, attempts to cremate his mother’s body by setting fire to the barn, and Dewey Dell is raped in the cellar of a pharmacy. Addie is buried next to her father in the family plot. Darl’s sanity dies with her mother and he is taken finally to an asylum. Anse, the father, appears with a woman, introducing her as the new ‘Mrs Bundren’.

Sanctuary (1931), dedicated to Sherwood Anderson for services rendered, was according to the author “deliberately conceived to make money.” In the story a young woman is raped by a murderer. She finds sanctuary in a brothel. In these and the following works Faulkner experimented with methods of narration, using page-long sentences, and forcing the reader to hold in mind details and phrases that are meaningful only at the end of the story.

In 1933 Faulkner started to take flying lessons and he bought his own plane. To earn money and support Estelle, their three children, and some of the Oldhams, Faulker worked over the next 20 years in Hollywood on several screenplays, from Today We Live (1933) to Land of the Pharaos (1955). His own stories were for the conservative producers too daring: they dealt with rape, incest, suicide etc. Between scriptwriting Faulkner published several novel. Pylon (1934) was a story of four adults and a child, who travel from air show to another. Absalom, Absalom! concentrated on Thomas Sutpen’s attempts to found a Southern dynasty in the 19th-century Mississippi. The Wild Palms (1939) was a story of the Snopes family, in which the character McCord is based on Ernest Hemingway and parallels A Farwell to Arms.

By 1945, when Faulkner’s novels were out of print, he moved again to Hollywood to write under contract movie scripts, mostly for director Howard Hawks. He had read Faulkner’s 1926 novel Soldier’s Pay when it had just appeared and recommended it to his friends. In the early 1930s Faulkner had written for the director an adaptation from his short story Turn About. Their first meeting ended in heavy drinking, and started a long friendship. Faulkner cooperated with Hawks among others in the films To Have and Have Not (1944), based freely on Ernest Hemingway‘s novel, and The Big Sleep (1946), based on Raymond Chandler‘s novel.

Faulkner’s second period of success started in 1946 with the publication of The Potable Faulkner , which rescued him from near-oblivion. However, Faulkner’s physique and mental functioning was weakened by hard drinking. Besides problems with alcohol his wife’s drug addiction and declining health shadowed his life. Moreover, Hollywood was not the best refuge from domestic problems, because Faulkner also had there series of affairs, among others with Meta Carpenter Wilde, a script girl, who wrote a book about their relationship. Faulkner did not hide his fear and contempt of the city. Faulkner published in 1951 Requiem for a Nun , and badly received magnum opus A Fable in 1954. The Town (1957) and The Mansion (1959) continued the story of the Snopes family, which he had begun in 1940 in The Hamlet. With The Reivers (1962), set early in the 20th-century, Faulkner nostalgically revisited his childhood, and extends the world of Sanctuary. On June 17, 1962, he was thrown from a horse, and a few weeks later, on July 6, Faulkner died of a coronary occlusion.

William Faulkner was contemporary with the Lost Generation and he shared with them two things: its strong dislike for the post-war world and its belief in the value of art. However, he presents many differences in his themes and in his style in respect to them.

In a time when writers suffered from rootlessness, he is as an exception. Opposite to the cosmopolitan writers of his generation he stayed in his hometown Oxford, Mississippi, except for brief stays away and a short period in Europe. His novels are populated by Southern characters, who undergo the typical experiences of life in the South. He created a fictional county, Yoknapatawpha county, that reflects his own homeland where the majority of his novels and short stories take place. He even used members of his family as prototypes for characters in his novels, especially his great-grandfather, who led a very exciting life in politics and in business and was also a novelist. However, Faulkner is not a typical regionalist writer since in his fiction provincialism reaches universality.

The other outstanding characteristic of his fiction is the difficulty of his style for the use of complex narrative devices and for the portrayal of the typical Southern language.

At first his innovations and his critical view of the South resulted controversial, but with As I Lay dying he achieved popular success and he also received many honours during his lifetime, such as the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. Fourty-three years after his death, in his review of Jay Parini’s book One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner (2004) the Nobel writer J.M. Coetzee defined Faulkner not only as “the most radical innovator in the annals of American fiction,” but “a writer to whom the avant-garde of Europe and Latin America would go to school.” (The New York Review of Books, April 7, 2005).


The term “Lost Generation” is applied to a group of American writers who were born at the beginning of this century and whose literary offspring coincided with the end of World War I. This term was created by the American writer Gertrud Stein, to refer to refer to the American writers she met in Paris, and it was used for the first time as an epigraph in Hemingway’s The Sun also Rises. The members of this “group” were brought up to live in a world very different from the one they had to deal with. The 1st World War was one of the events that marked their careers, but also in many cases the experience of living in Europe, and the Depression. The generation belonged to a period of transition from values already fixed to values that had to be created.

Many young people in the post-war period had lost their American ideals, and that tat the same time America had lost many fine young writers because they had moved to Paris. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel This Side of Paradise (1920), describes this new generation. According to him, “they had grown up to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken”. Two concerns now filled their lives: “the fear of poverty and the worship of success”. He had, from the very beginning, a feeling that the 20’s would end badly, both for himself and for America and therefore all the stories that came into his head had a feeling of disaster in them.

Scott Fitzgerald’s life was like the plot of one of his novels and it shows also many of the characteristics of the Lost Generation. He grew up in the Middle West, but he attended Princeton University in the East Coast. With the publication of his first novel This Side of Paradise he achieved a huge success by the age of 24. In the 20’s he and his wife lived a happy life full of adventures, travelling a lot in Europe and attending parties. However his life took a tragic turn, since his wife had to be hospitalised for her mental problems and he became an alcoholic. When he died in 1940 he was almost forgotten and he was working for the Hollywood studios.

But his masterpiece is The Great Gatsby (1925). Jay Gatsby, the hero of the novel, has a similar belief in the absolute power and natural goodness of money. The narrator of the story is Nick Carraway, who is an outsider, since he is not rich, and this gives the story an extra dimension of detachment. Through the eyes of Nick Carraway we see both the glamour and the moral ugliness of the 20’s. With the idea of wealth and youth it presents Jay Gatsby. His life, in spite of all the external riches, is dedicated to recovering Daisy, his first love. But Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan, who is also very rich. Gatsby symbolises the American belief that money can buy love and happiness, but he is a tragic figure marked by failure.

His other important novel was Tender is the Night (1934). Here the action takes place in Europe, in the French Riviera. Dick Diver, the protagonist, has disintegrated from too much money and domestic problems and he returns to America not out of repentance, but to hide from his failure.

John Steinbeck is best known by Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Of Mice and Men deals with two men who work in farms to survive and have the dream of having their own land. One of them is a retarded who commits a crime and is then killed by his friend to prevent a worse destiny. The book stresses the impossibility of these men to have security and to possess a land of their own.

In The Grapes of Wrath the main character has just left jail and goes back to his family, but they are about to leave. They have lost their farm and they are going West to California to fulfil their American dream. The trip is very difficult, and it reminds of that of the original settlers, moving West through a series of penuries. At the end they do not find what they were looking for, all they find in California is exploitation. The novel tells the story of a great national tragedy through the experience of one family. It shows the daily heroism of ordinary people learning to work together as a group. Steinbeck’s description of this social injustice shocked the nation.

Ernest Hemingway was from the Midwest, from Chicago, and during the war he was an ambulance driver in Europe. There he was seriously wounded, and this is an experience that would appear as a major theme throughout his fiction, mainly in A Farewell to Arms. After the war he went back to the US, but he returned soon to Europe as a correspondent of an American paper and he settled in Paris. There he met Gertrude Stein and he became the main representative of what she called the Lost Generation. He led a very active life, visiting many countries and reflected those experiences in his novels and short stories which are set in very varied places such as Spain, Africa or the Caribbean. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

His first significant book was In Our Time, a collection of short stories, which already presented most of the elements of his later works. It has the theme of a young man’s initiation into life, with an emphasis upon pain, sex and death. The stories deal with topics such as war, journalism and bullfighting.

The character Nick Adams is also the origin of his later heroes. The violence of life gradually forces him to retreat into himself and get courage in order to survive.

The technique is also typical of later works, trying to evoke the emotion indirectly by understatement, irony and repetition. A further characteristic of Hemingway’s fiction was the simple style and the careful structuring. He used short sentences with very few adjectives, and his language was rarely emotional, suggesting stoicism as one of his recurrent subjects.

With The Sun Also Rises, published as Fiesta in England, he achieved his first major success. In this novel Hemingway portrays young Americans living in Paris who feel useless after having fought for their country. They make a trip to Spain participate in the fiesta in Pamplona and to see the bullfighting.

In A Farewell to Arms he reflected his experience at the war. The main character falls in love with a nurse, and they have to flee from the war to protect their love. However, she dies in childbirth leaving him desolate. This novel gives us a vision of the war and the disillusion that it ends up bringing and it presents the fixity of pain in life.

He dealt with love and war again in For Whom the Bell Tolls, that takes place during the Spanish Civil War. In this novel he joins the social romance and the tragedy in the story of an American who is helping a group of Spanish republicans, his love for María and his courageous death during the blowing up of an strategic bridge.

The other great author is William Faulkner. His first success The Sound and the Fury was a shocking book when it was first published. Technically speaking this is a very complex novel. It has several innovations that require the concentration and the involvement of the reader to grasp the story. The novel is divided into four sections, and each section is told through the eyes of a different character-narrator. It deals with the story of a Southern family, the Compsons, which were a wealthy family in the past, but they are now in decadence

In the 1930’s he was becoming increasingly concerned with the evils of modern society, which was reflected in Light in August (1932), considered by many to be another masterpiece and in which he shows how racism has made the white community of the South crazy, and in Absalom, Absalom! (1936), once more set in Yoknapatawpha County. In both novels the central character suffers the consequences of the evils of the Southern society. In Light in August Joe Christmas is a man who is half black and half while, that is, he belongs to neither race. In Absalom, Absalom! Thomas Sutpen plans to establish a great family, but racism, psychological illness and a family tragedy destroy his plans.

In As I lay dying we have again the story of a family, the Bundrens, but in this case they are “white trash”, the white poor of the South. The death of the mother makes them begin an apocaliptical travel, as she asked to be buried in the place where her family came from. The funeral journey is an epic one, suggesting the exodus from Egypt. They have to undergo many disgraces, literally crossing through fire and water. After the burial their obligation to her is fulfilled and they can go back to ordinary life, so for example the father buys a new set of teeth and gets a new wife. As The Sound and the Fury the story is told in different sections narrated through the eyes of various characters in succession.


Hemingway, Life and Works by G.B. Nelson and G. Jones (1985

A Reader’s Guide to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, ed. by P. Smith (1989)

Ernest Hemingway: A Study of the Short Fiction by J.M. Flora (1989

The Art of F. Scott Fitzgerald by S.Perosa (1965)

The Golden Moment: The Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald by M.R. Stern (1969)

The Oxford Companion to American Literature by J.D. Hart. OUP (1986)

F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of the Short Fiction by John Richard Kuehl (1991)

Steinbeck: The Man and His Work, ed. by R. Astro and T. Hayashi (1971)

John Steinbeck’s Fiction by John H. Timmerman (1986)

William Faulkner: Toward Yoknapatawpha and Beyond by C. Brooks (1978)

William Faulkner, His Life and Work by D. Minter (1980)

William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Fiction, ed. by A. Robert Lee (1987)