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The Lost Generation (#AtoZChallenge 2024) Theme Reveal

I’m so excited to be back for this challenge! I had to give it up last year due to various problems with the site and time management – and it pained me. I had taken part in the AtoZ Challenge every year since 2015 and it was a tough decision to renounce it. But at the end of 2022 my site stopped working. For some reason (I believe it was due to the obsolete WordPress theme), it wouldn’t allow me to create new posts. It took me some time to find someone who could help, and when I did, it was too late to start writing. Also, I was very busy with another project – all the start was against me. 

So I decided to give it up. It was better that way than writing a subpar challenge that wouldn’t satisfy me or my readers. 

But that meant I needed to do everything I could to be able to participate this year. 

Well. Here I am and it feels amazing!

I slowly started to write on my blog again at the beginning of the year, after more than a year of hiatus. And you know? Blogging feels like a different world.

It’s been so long, and I’ve learned so many things in the meantime, that even this challenge, which is some kind of tradition on my blog, feels like something I have to relearn from scratch. 

I’m happy that the AtoZ Challenge should be the first commitment of this ‘new era’. It was on the challenge that I learned how to write a blog. How to organise my topics and manage my time. It was on the challenge that I learned blogging good manners. The AtoZ Challenge shaped me as a blogger, and it just fits that I should get back to it after such a long break. 

I’m so freaking excited to be on this new path!

So, whether you’re new to my blog or you are an old friend, I’m so happy you are here. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride!

What is the AtoZ Challenge

The badge of the AtoZ Challenge of 2024. It's a square with a black background and the text 2024 in big, lilac figures. A violet A is over the zero and a violet Z is over the 4. Beneath it is the text, "Blogging from A to Z April Challenge" and the url of the site.

I started my blog in 2014 and stumbled upon the AtoZ Challenge right away. Too late to take part, but I was blown away by the concept: blogging every day of April (except Sundays) following the letters of the alphabet, possibly (or preferably?) also following a theme.

I loved it the moment I heard about it! Immediatly, I decided I would take part the following year.

The challenge had been created only a few years earlier, in 2009, by Arlee Bird. When I joined the first time, it was probably at the apex of its popularity (at least so far). That first year, hundreds and hundreds of people (and blogs) participated, and it was a blast. I don’t think I ever managed to read all of the blogs, so many they were (I think that yeat the number of participants brushed 2000)

I basically winged it that first year (somehow, the challenge crept on me), but then I learned how to organise the work leading up to the challenge, and I soon discovered it was an excellent tool for research. I’ve always used the challenge not only to share what I’ve learned about the 1920s (my favourite decade), but also to do actual research for my other writing. 

Here are the topics (themes) I’ve written about so far:

2015 – The Roaring Twenties
2016 – Jazz Age Jazz (1920s Jazz as a Social Phenomenon)
2017 – Film Noir
2018 – Weimar Germany
2019 – Berliner Cabaret
2020 – Living the Twenties (1920s Global Change)
2021 – World War I
2022 – Enter the New Woman

The banner of the AtoZ Challenge Theme Reveal. It shows a red theatre curtain ready to be opened. The text reads: "2010-2024 10-16 March - AtoZ Challenge 2024 - Theme Reveal - Blogging from A to Z April Challenge - a-to-zchallenge.com"

As you can see from my past themes, I’ve often touched on WWI as well as the 1920s. This year, I want to explore a topic that really brings the two matters together. 

THE LOST GENERATION

The 1920s were very complex times. Very contradicting times. 

They were about everything and the contrary of everything: projected to the future but still grounded in the past, full of life but also marked by death, a new space for minorities and women but also the playground of nationalism, the birthplace of so many things we now take for granted and still so new to this that sometimes people didn’t know how to handle all the novelties. 

When we say that the Twenties were wild, we are saying the truth.

One of the 1920s most fascinating contradictions was their youths. 

When we think of the young people of the Roaring Twenties or the Goldene Zwanziger, when we think of the Young Bright Things or the Mogas, of the Blueswomen or flappers, we look at the bright side of the Twenties. That site that wanted to have fun was full of people who enjoyed a new way to express themselves with more freedom. But there was another face to it. The Twenties was still a time marked by death and struggle. The destruction of WWI and the death of the pandemic were still very much alive in the minds and, especially, the hearts of the people. 

The two experiences lived together, influencing each other and finding a very precarious balance that only lasted a decade. 

The symbol of this delicate balance is – in my opinion – The Lost Generation. Those youths knew the destruction of the war and could not shake it off. And yet they enjoyed themselves and wanted something different. They thought differently and felt differently, and spoke differently and demanded. Even if they didn’t have the strength to create something lasting, nonetheless, they lived the change and marked the way for other young people who would come later. 

This was a generation who lived through huge relief, but in a very dark shadow. 

Let’s get to know them a bit better.

The Lost Generation (#AtoZChallenge 2024) Theme Reveal – The lost generation is the term used to describe that generation of youths who fought in #WWI and lived their prime in the #1920s. Click To Tweet
Pinterest pin. The text reads, "The Lost Generation - AtoZ Challenge 2024". The picture shows a couple of 1920s youth in a bedroom. The boy sits on a chair and kisses the hand of the girl sitting in his lap. The girl looks on the side, and her face is one of boredom. The entire pin is a sepia hue that suggests vintage.
Pinterest pin. The text reads, "The Lost Generation - AtoZ Challenge 2024". The picture shows a couple of 1920s youth in a bedroom. The boy sits on a chair and kisses the hand of the girl sitting in his lap. The girl looks on the side, and her face is one of boredom. The black-and-white image sits against a pink background.

Who was the Lost Generation?

The Lost Generation is that generation of people who, born between 1883 and 1900, came of age in the years of the Great War and were, therefore, young in the 1920s. 

Gertrude Stein famously ‘coined’ this term. In the 1920s, Stein, an American expat in Paris, lived at the Hotel Pernollet. Monsieur Pernollet, himself a veteran of the Great War, observed the coming of age of the young generation who also fought in the war, finding that they had lost all interest in life and seemed to float through their days without a purpose. Adopting the remark of a young car mechanic who was fixing Stein’s car, Monsieur Pernollet would often call the young people in their twenties une génération perdue.

Stein recounted this to Ernest Hemingway, another expat in Paris and a member of that generation of veterans, who used the term ‘Lost generation’ in the epitaph of his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. That’s where the name became widely known.’

A survivor of WWI pays a visit to his fallen comrades in an army cemetery in France. The man in uniform stands among the cemetery crosses, his head bowing.

Americans and Europeans mean different things when using this term. Yet the name describes people with similar characteristics and history. 

Having lived through the war – many of these young people were veterans, both men and women – this generation had lost all hopes and illusions regarding the future and glided through life trying to gain as much as possible without any concern – so it seemed – for what the future may bring to them. 

And yet, this was also the generation who lived life in a new way. Women were freer to express themselves through new outfits, looks and behaviours. Many minorities also found new spaces in mainstream society and ways to express themselves. 

After the destruction of war, these young people wanted to enjoy the now and here. They wanted to live and experiment without waiting for tomorrow. They wanted the change now because they deserved it. 

Characteristics of 1920s young people

What are then the characteristics of these young people that made them lost but also optimistic?

They were rebels

Definitely, they were. The Lost Generation didn’t care to listen to their elders. Those were the people who, after having lived in a world of peace, sent them to the front to suffer and die. The Lost Generation no longer trusted them or their values. 

So they simply rejected them and strove to live by different values. 

While it’s true that the Lost Generation struggled to find their own values, they lived in a markedly distinct manner: the individual and their free choices were at the centre of their value system. This generation did and thought things their parents never even dreamed of doing or thinking. These youths experimented a lot and were not afraid to try, however controversial what they did would be. 

They lived in the present

The Great War and the pandemic on its tail had made tabula rasa of the world these young people had glimpsed before it disappeared forever. 

They were not ignorant of the ‘world before’. The older among them had been educated for that world. But they were acutely aware it didn’t exist anymore. 

Did they regret it? They acted as if they didn’t. 

It was a world whose values and beliefs were no longer true and, therefore, useless to them. Though unknown and scary, the world they lived in now was a blank canvas on which they could depict a new world if they wanted. 

They did not always manage to do it, but they certainly tried. 

They were creators

Artistic expression in all its forms was very important for the Lost Generation. In many ways, the new fashion trends and appearances were a manifestation of art, drawing inspiration from various artistic mediums such as cinema, music, and different artistic styles.

For some, this lifestyle evolved into hedonism, but for many others, it offered an exhilarating avenue for self-expression.

Arts were actually very much present in the lives of these young people. The post-war years were full of new artistic movements, including Expressionism (that touched many other arts), modernism (that also was a philosophy of life), and Art Deco (that gave shape to things people used and wore every day). 

In the United States, the Lost Generation was mostly a literary movement (whereas in Europe, the term referred to the whole generation who fought through the Great War). Although they mostly didn’t believe in a bright future, much of what they created shaped the future and would be remembered long after their time. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited to delve into this topic. 

Let’s dive in!

THE LOST GENERATION

N – Nationalism
O – Others
P – Postwar Years
Q – Question of Faith
R – Roaring Twenties
S –
T –
U –
V –
W –
X –
Y –
Z –


RESOURCES

Interesting Literature – Who Really Coined the Phrase ‘Lost Generation’?
Encyclopedia 1914-1918 – Post-war Societies
Kingston upon Hull War Memorial 1914-1918 The Legacy of WW1
ThoughtCoThe Lost Generation and the Writers Who Described Their World
Anti-Materialism What was the Lost Generation?
University of Oxford The Lost Generation


52 Comments

  • Anne Young
    Posted March 11, 2024 at 10:17

    looking forward to learning more during April

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 11, 2024 at 14:15

      Thanks, Anne. And especially thanks for you perseverance 🙂

  • Tarkabarka
    Posted March 11, 2024 at 10:17

    Oh my god, so good to see you back in the challenge!!! 🙂 Welcome back! I missed you last year. Cool theme as usual, looking forward to it!
    The Multicolored Diary

  • Carrie-Anne
    Posted March 11, 2024 at 17:15

    I missed your blog last April! You always have such great, research-heavy themes.
    Welcome to My Magick Theatre

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 11, 2024 at 19:13

      Hi Carrie-Anne. I’m happy to be back 🙂
      ooh, and let me see your theme reveal. I haven’t seen it yet!

  • ann bennett
    Posted March 12, 2024 at 00:15

    My grandfather was an ambulance driver during World War I. He had also served in the Spanish American War which was in 1898. He was born in 1878 and my grandmother was born in 1888. So my family skips back in time quite quickly. I knew neither one. I find your blog theme to be most interesting. I look forward to it unfolding this April. Thanks for visiting my blog. Ann

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 12, 2024 at 12:33

      Hi Ann, and thanks so much for stopping by 🙂
      One of my great-grandfathers fought in WWI. He was born in Italy from British parents, so he fought in the British Army. I still have its diary. He started it in 1901. He didn’t write much of what happened to him, but he noted down all the places he went to, including during the war.
      It’s strangely emotional, leafing through those pages.

  • Kristin
    Posted March 12, 2024 at 22:12

    I’m looking forward to following you this A to Z. I’m doing the Edelweiss Club. The members are in the same age group as yours, but definitely not part of the Lost Generation.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 14, 2024 at 19:04

      Kristin! I meant to contact you and ask whether you were doing the Edelweiss Club this year. So happy you do!!! Can’t wait to red it 🙂

  • Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    Posted March 13, 2024 at 08:50

    I learned loads already! So glad you’re participating again this year 🙂

    Ronel visiting for Theme Reveal for A to Z Blogging Challenge 2024

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 14, 2024 at 19:05

      Happy you liked the post.
      And I think congrats are due here. Haven’t you joined the AtoZ captains? 🙂

  • Anne E.G. Nydam
    Posted March 13, 2024 at 19:33

    Fascinating topic, as always!
    A-Z Challenge: Magical Botany

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 14, 2024 at 19:06

      Thanks Anne. Reserch is a bit tricky, but I’m enjoying it 🙂

  • Andrew Wilson
    Posted March 14, 2024 at 12:57

    My Grandfather’s elder brother emigrated from England to the US before the First World War but the family would not allow my grandfather to go with him – they didn’t want to lose another breadwinner and in any case, he was under 16. So when war broke out, the brother in America suggested he join up (lying about his age) and that he would send money for him to emigrate too after the war. He sent the money but the family took it and spent it, so my grandfather (who had made it through the whole war) had to stay here. He couldn’t do his next choice of profession – school teaching, because with the death of so many breadwinners, that profession was reserved for women. So he had to remain with his roots becoming a gamekeeper. He was so angry that he wouldn’t allow my mother to do the special homework that her teachers gave her, saying “What’s the point? You will just go into domestic service at 14!” Which is what happened. The brother in America, married a Southern belle and became a Lecturer in a Veterinary College. My mother, born in 1921, rose in domestic service to become a children’s nanny to a banking family but used the Second World War to escape and then after the war, she became a nurse but after 6 months fully qualified, left to marry since nurses could not be married women back then…
    Glad to see you back Sarah – your A-Z is always so in-depth and interesting!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 14, 2024 at 19:11

      What a story, Andrew! I’m very impressed that your grandfather made it though the entire war. It must have been hard.
      my workmate has her husband’s granfather’s war diary. He too went through the entire war, joining when he was 20. He was a Frenchman. My workmate told me that he could keep the diary only for a couple years, thought. Then, even writing about the war become too much of a burden.
      I can’t even imagine how it must have been.

  • Debbie
    Posted March 14, 2024 at 16:19

    I always say if I could go back to any decade, it would be the 20s so I am very much looking forward to your posts!
    Debbie

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 14, 2024 at 19:12

      And I would join you! Though, honestly, sometimes I think we are getting somethign very similar to the Twenties. In so many ways.

  • Debby
    Posted March 14, 2024 at 23:16

    This sounds right up my alley.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 15, 2024 at 07:59

      Yayyy! Happy you like it.
      It’s a bit tricky because it overlaps a lot with what I’ve already written, but it’s interesting and fun to research.

  • Hallie
    Posted March 15, 2024 at 07:09

    Great theme choice for the A to Z challenge! Looking forward to the rest of your alphabet journey!
    My topic (here: https://gritandgrace2015.blogspot.com/2024/03/atozchallenge-theme-announcement.html ) may not have as much appeal for everyone, but I’m going to give it a try 🙂

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 15, 2024 at 07:59

      It’s alwasy worth trying. I’ve learned that the AtoZ is a fantastic place to experiment and learn what’s good for your audience 🙂

  • Locksley
    Posted March 16, 2024 at 15:21

    Gosh, that looks very complicated and very interesting. I was from a lost generation. But then I was rescued and brought to the animal shelter.
    Good luck
    Locksley at George’s Guinea Pig World

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 16, 2024 at 18:21

      So happy you’ve found your place in the world! and also that you’ve found my blog 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Alana
    Posted March 16, 2024 at 21:28

    Not only is your theme interesting but so are the comments on your reveal. I’m going to cross fingers that I don’t have problems with commenting as I did earlier in March. So here goes! My parents both grew up in the 1920’s. Not only that but one of my husband’s aunts was born in 1912 (and lived to 107, so I got to know her for some 45 years) and this will help me learn more about her coming of age years, perhaps.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 19, 2024 at 12:38

      107 years!!!! That must have been beautiful. My grandpa, who was born a coulpe of years before your husband’s aunt, had so many stories to tell.

      Sorry for the problem with the comments earlier this month. It was a glitch on my side. It should be sorted, now 🙂

  • Linda Curry
    Posted March 17, 2024 at 23:09

    Both my maternal grandmother and biological father were young people in the 1920s. My grandmother left her husband and with a small child (my mother) struggled to survive. My bio father served in WW1 and was a soldier settler. I never met him. So I will think of them as I read your A to Z and hope to learn much more about that generation.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 19, 2024 at 12:41

      I’m really so touched by all the stories in the comments. Thanks so much for share yours too.
      The 1920s were a hundred years ago, and yet, so many of us have a connection with them. This is how history keeps living, I think. It is never all that far away.

  • Torie Lennox
    Posted March 18, 2024 at 02:59

    You’ve absolutely sold me! I was already intrigued, but your post has really piqued my interest. I’m looking forward to seeing more!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 19, 2024 at 12:42

      Lo happy you liked the post, Torie. I’ll do my best! 🙂

  • Faith
    Posted March 18, 2024 at 18:57

    Fantastic theme you’ve chosen for the A to Z challenge! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for the next letters of the alphabet.
    https://whiskeyandwhispers.blogspot.com/2024/03/unveiling-my-atozchallenge-theme-genre.html

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 19, 2024 at 12:42

      It is indeed a fascinating subject. I’m really enjoying researching it and I can’t wait to share what I’m learning 🙂

  • Dena Pawling
    Posted March 19, 2024 at 13:01

    Great theme! Sounds interesting and fun. I’ll be back!

  • Jenny
    Posted March 20, 2024 at 15:01

    I’m looking forward to reading your posts on this theme. Sounds interesting.
    Happy blogging, Jenny

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 21, 2024 at 20:28

      The same to you, Jenny. Have a fantastic April 🙂

  • Salem Devina
    Posted March 20, 2024 at 16:26

    Fantastic theme reveal! I can’t wait to explore your posts during the A to Z challenge in April. Wishing you all the best as you embark on this creative journey. Here’s a link to mine – https://hellfireandchaos.blogspot.com/2024/03/atozchallenge-theme-announcement.html

  • Never Saw It Coming
    Posted March 20, 2024 at 20:52

    Exciting theme reveal! I’m looking forward to following your A-to-Z journey throughout April. Best of luck with the challenge. I’ve restarted my blog and deleted all the old content since I’ve been away for about 10 years and am coming back with the A-to-Z Challenge, hopefully it’ll give me some blog theme motivation and some dedicated readers. My theme is here: https://illusionsofchaos.blogspot.com/2024/03/hello-again-atozchallenge-theme-reveal.html

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 21, 2024 at 20:30

      I’m sure the challenge will be a blast for you. It’s an incredible community 🙂

  • Kai
    Posted March 27, 2024 at 17:16

    What an interesting and indepth challenge!
    I’ll be doing my A to Z of me and my inspirations – hopefully I’ll be giving people some ideas about what I’m doing and why I’m writing what I do. And shedding a bit more light on something that happened to me in October.

    https://kaiberie.com/blog/2024/03/15/atoz-challenge-2024/

    Kai

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 28, 2024 at 20:28

      Hi Kai and thanks so much for stopping by.
      I’ve seen your plans for the challenge. I’m impressed!

  • Dixie Jackson
    Posted March 28, 2024 at 01:57

    I’m quite intrigued and can’t wait to come by for your posts!

  • ib arora
    Posted March 29, 2024 at 10:54

    well, quite a challenge. all the best . looking forward to your posts.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 29, 2024 at 20:43

      It is a challenge, but also quite fun 🙂
      All the best to you too.

  • Heather Musk
    Posted March 29, 2024 at 11:22

    Good luck with the challenge! Great news that you’ve made it back.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 29, 2024 at 20:45

      I couldn’t avoid missing it, last year. I did everything I could because this year didn’t happen the same.

  • Jennifer Jones
    Posted March 31, 2024 at 03:07

    This sounds like a really great theme. I’m looking forward to learning more about the 1920s. I do love 1920s historical fiction, especially when it’s based on fact. #atozchallenge

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted March 31, 2024 at 15:12

      Hi Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by.
      I hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts. It starts tomorrow, I’m all giddy and excited!

  • kajmeister
    Posted March 31, 2024 at 21:16

    You said it all! What could you possibly also cover? (Oh, ho, I sense a challenge!) Excellent start. Glad to see another history buff taking up the challenge. Do you know the book Trust by Herman Diaz? New, covers the time periodish (goes into the Depression) and very interesting study of historical biography, autobiography, etc. Meanwhile, looking forward to the blog.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 2, 2024 at 08:47

      Aaaahhh!!! There is so much more to say about the Lost Generation! LOL!
      Thanks for mentioning that book. I haven’t heard of it, but I’ll look it up 🙂

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