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[美国]迷惘的一代

2005-11-08 00:00

  Seeking the bohemian lifestyle and rejecting the values of American materialism, a number of intellectuals, poets, artists and writers fled to France in the post World War I years. Paris was the center of it all.

  American poet Gertrude Stein actually coined the expression "lost generation." Speaking to Ernest Hemingway, she said, "you are all a lost generation." The term stuck and the mystique surrounding these individuals continues to fascinate us.

  Full of youthful idealism, these individuals sought the meaning of life, drank excessively, had love affairs and created some of the finest American literature to date.

  There were many literary artists involved in the groups known as the Lost Generation. The three best known are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. Others usually included among the list are: Sherwood Anderson, Kay Boyle, Hart Crane, Ford Maddox Ford and Zelda Fitzgerald.

  Ernest Hemingway was the Lost Generation's leader in the adaptation of the naturalistic technique in the novel. Hemingway volunteered to fight with the Italians in World War I and his Midwestern American ignorance was shattered during the resounding defeat of the Italians by the Central Powers at Caporetto. Newspapers of the time reported Hemingway, with dozens of pieces of shrapnel in his legs, had heroically carried another man out. That episode even made the newsreels in America. These war time experiences laid the groundwork of his novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929). Another of his books, The Sun Also Rises (1926) was a naturalistic and shocking expression of post-war disillusionment.

  John Dos Passos had also seen the brutality of the war and questioned the meaning of contemporary life. His novel Manhatten Transfer reveals the extent of his pessimism as he indicated the hopeless futility of life in an American city.

  F. Scott Fitzgerald is remembered as the portrayer of the spirit of the Jazz age. Though not strictly speaking an expatriate, he roamed Europe and visited North Africa, but returned to the US occasionally. Fitzgerald had at least two addresses in Paris between 1928 and 1930. He fulfilled the role of chronicler of the prohibition era.

  His first novel, This Side of Paradise became a best-seller. But when first published, The Great Gatsby on the other hand, sold only 25,000 copies. The free spirited Fitzgerald, certain it would be a big hit, blew the publisher's advance money leasing a villa in Cannes. In the end, he owed his publishers, Scribners, money. Fitzgerald's Gatsby is the story of a somewhat refined and wealthy bootlegger whose morality is contrasted with the hypocritical attitude of most of his acquaintances. Many literary critics consider Gatsby his best work.

  The impact of the war on the group of writers in the Lost Generation is aptly demonstrated by a passage from Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night (1933):

  "This land here cost twenty lives a foot that summer……See that little stream——we could walk to it in two minutes. It took the British a month to walk it——a whole empire walking very slowly, dying in front and pushing forward behind. And another empire walked very slowly backward a few inches a day, leaving the dead like a million bloody rugs. No Europeans will ever do that again in this generation."

  The Lost Generation writers all gained prominence in 20th century literature. Their innovations challenged assumptions about writing and expression, and paved the way for subsequent generations of writers.

  第一次世界大战后出现在美国的一个文学流派。它不是一个有组织、有共同纲领的团体。这个名词源出侨居巴黎的美国女作家格特鲁德·斯泰因。她有一次指着海明威等人说:“你们都是迷惘的一代。”海明威把这句话作为他的长篇小说《太阳照样升起》的一句题辞,于是“迷悯的一代”成了一个文学流派的名称。“迷惘的一代”作家的共同点是厌恶帝国主义战争,却又找不到出路。第一次世界大战爆发时,他们大多是20岁左右的年轻人。他们在美国政府“拯救世界民主”口号的蛊惑下,怀着民主的理想,奔赴欧洲战场。他们目睹人类空前的大屠杀,发现战争远不是他们原来设想的那种英雄的事业,所谓“民主”、“光荣”、“牺牲”都是骗人的东西。他们在战争中经历了种种苦难,了解到普通兵士中间的反战情绪。这在他们心灵中留下了无法医治的创伤。他们的作品反映了这些思想感情。例如,约翰·多斯·帕索斯的《三个士兵》、爱·肯明斯的《巨大的房间》、威廉·福克纳的《士兵的报酬》和《萨托里斯》。厄内斯特。海明威是“迷惘的一代”的代表作家。他到欧洲打过仗,负过重伤。海明威当时对待战争的态度,象其他反战作家一样,只限于厌恶、逃避与诅咒。他对战后的和平生活也不抱希望,所以在作品中迷惘、悲观的情绪较为浓厚。“迷惘的一代”不仅指参加过欧洲大战的作家,也包括没有参加过战争、但对前途感到迷悯和迟疑的20年代作家,例如司各特·菲茨杰拉尔德、托·斯·艾略特和托·马斯·沃尔夫等。“迷悯的一代”主要繁荣在20年代;30年代以后,他们的创作倾向,包括海明威在内,都有了变化。

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