Gerald Murphy, Genevieve Carpenter, Cole Porter and Sara Murphy in Venice, 1923

It is difficult to think of a more self-conscious movement in the history of American letters than that which occurred on the Left Bank of Paris during the 1920s. Gathered in Montparnasse, the fabled Lost Generation spent a decade writing novels and poems about themselves, and the decades thereafter writing their account of those years. Predictably, an avalanche of memoirs, recorded by everyone from Hemingway to his bartender, has provided ample grist for the academic mill, which has responded with collections of letters, biographies, and studies revealing the true identities of fictional...


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