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Paris France by Gertrude Stein as a Unique Reflection of the Lost Generation. Research Paper Sample.

7 pages
1716 words
George Washington University
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Research paper
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Paris France is a novel written by Gertrude Stein. A novel is a form of a memoir. The importance of this novel in literary circles is its depiction of the movement of the Lost Generation that was formed during WWI and remained significant shortly after that. The novel was a complete depiction of thematic concerns that had been brought about by the WWI. Ideally, Gertrude Stein was among some of the artists whose works were fiercely influenced by the war to a great extent and are remembered today for their brilliance in putting across messages that were relevant to the society at that time (Brooker et al. 25). The works of these artists have also proved significant in educating the current population on the issues that had been caused by the war that was significantly affecting the society at that time.

The novel, Paris France, is a memoir of sorts that counts as a complete commentary on the childhood memories of the author. The novel also provides very insightful information, although on a commentary note concerning the lives and culture of the French people. The novel provides very significant information about France as a country in the authors perspective (Ginsberg et al. 38). Paris France is undeniably a direct deliberation to explain the lives of the French people. As the author would have placed it, the French culture in France was the main topic of concern according to the novel. The lost generation, as it is explained by the author in the novel, was a particularly civilized generation. In literal circles and in history, the lost generation is defined as the generation that came to age just about the start of the WWI. The author continues to depict the French aspect of the generation with a keen emphasis on the issues that regard the daily lives and culture of the French people.

Research Question

Why is Paris France a unique reflection of the Lost Generation?


Paris France is a unique reflection of the Lost Generation as it depicts the cultural aspects of the French people as they came to be defined during and after WWI.

Tentative Thesis

The Lost Generation as depicted by a touch of the civilization of the French society. In her book, Gertrude Stein talks specifically about the different aspects of the French culture that made one civilized in the eyes of the largely French society. At the time of writing the book, the author had lived in France for a long time to give her the right perspective on the lives of the French people. After reading the work of art by Stein, it will be evident to the reader that Stein did not focus much on the effects of the war as she did on the particularities of the French culture in her depiction of the Lost Generation. Paris France contains much information that focuses on the very mundane aspects of the population considering that at the time the main topic was the war and the adverse effects it had on the French population and the world over (Stein 12). The following paragraphs will provide a deep analysis into how descriptive Steins work was one the French population with no regard to how the war had negatively affected the lives of the French people.

The memoirs in disguise that were written by Stein in the book Paris France are considered a very beautiful prose and stylistic type of writing that was pioneered by her. In her writing of this specific novel, she dedicated most of her word to explaining the underlying characters that defined one as part of the French culture. The novel, therefore, presents significant information regarding the different notions, morals, beliefs, clothing and attire, food, music and art that were defined as French in origin (Stein 39). The novel is considered a unique reflection of the Lost Generation as it provides many instances in explaining and defining their culture.

The novel also presents a lot of things concerning the American perspective of the French culture. In her depiction of the French through the eyes of an America, she notes the various things about the French that makes people assimilated into the culture in a civilized fashion. In her book, Stein is showing us France through the eyes of an American writer. Having spent a considerably long period in France, Stein figures that she can write about the French in an American way which provides a clear illustration of her perspective of the French culture as a writer. Stein is defined as a true and fine writer because she succeeds in showing her readers the French culture but writing this illustration in a way that is particularly American.

Stein presents the French culture to be beautiful, and this precedes the aesthetic nature of the novel. The depiction of the French in Steins novel Paris France is a very vivid recount of the observations of the culture that existed in France. However, Stein does not add anything to her observations as will be noted by a reader of her work Paris France. Her illustration of the French culture is done in a very blunt way with direct correlation to the events that were taking place at the time of writing. The most exquisite definition of the French culture through the perspective of the American writers was the political formations. Stein notes that it was common to find that most of the politicians were often surrounded by a group of daring youths. At the time, France was undergoing a revolution of sorts. The underlying emphasis on the political formations of the French was supported by a revolutionary history. It was clear that civilization in France could only occur as a result of a period of revolt. In the book, she questions, How could you be civilized if you had not passed through a period of revolt, and then you had to return to your pre-revolt state and there you were civilized (Gopnik).

Civilization seemed to be among the most significant aspects of the Lost Generation in France; According to the author, it was abundantly clear that the process of civilization came about due to many things. Most of which regarded the perspective with which one viewed the society with intent to make it better. Ideally, the shrewd observation of the author substantiated the surrealism that had taken a theme of publicity rather than civilization (Kazin 52). The revolt was the basis of civilized developments in the French culture at that time. It was also abundantly clear that the French society had a specific way of achieving civilization which governed the basis of their political and social formations.

Another significant aspect of the French culture as depicted by the author was the language itself. French, according to the author was a very strange language. The strangeness was particularly dependent not the understanding of the language itself but in its meanings in the various functions alluded to it. For instance, the author notes in the book that the translation into English, of a French phrase which meant a war of nerves, was very intriguing. The author notes that a war of nerves had no specific relation to nerves in the body (Gopnik). This depicts the ability of the French language and how it was used by the Lost Generation in conferring meanings to words that were not particularly related to their grammatical meanings. This depiction of the French language was one of the many observations made by the author. These observations regarding language as an important aspect of the French culture portrayed the different functions and importance of language and its cultural significance to the French people, the different aspects of their daily lives, politics and others aspects of the French culture.

The author does not forget to mention about the mundane but significant aspects of culture that tend to differentiate one national culture from another. Noting that the author had lived in France and owned a salon for over 30 years, it would be prudent to accept her observations as ones acquired through a long period of assimilation though quite not changing how different she perceives things in the perspective of her native culture. The author is particularly specific in describing the taste of food, the prettiness of the hats, the importance of clothing, different forms of attire and music in the French society. She succeeds in describing the authentic beauty of the French culture to the reader in an interesting manner.

However, one of the most significant aspects of the French culture, in a feat to describe the Lost Generation, which the author included in her novel was the amoral difference between the French and the American people. The traditional background of the French made them different in dealing with issues that affected society. The author notes that Americans took everything with a presence of sentimental or rather a puritanical inquiry (Gopnik). However, the French took everything as it is without the sentimental or puritanical inquiry which made them see life as it is and also accept it as it is.


Indeed, Paris France is a work of art that acts as a reflection of a culture in the perspective of an American author who has stayed in a foreign country long enough to grasp the different important aspects of the foreign culture. Ideally, the novel presents different observations that uniquely describe the aspects of the cultural framework of the French society. From the depiction of language, politic, clothing and attire among other important things, the author has succeeded to present the Lost Generation to the reader in a forward manner that is clear, intelligent and interesting. Most importantly is that Paris France illustrates important aspects of the French culture with no deep regard for the importance of WWI in how it affected the lives of the French population.


Works Cited

Brooker, Peter, Raman Selden, and Peter Widdowson. A reader's guide to contemporary literary theory. Taylor & Francis, 2017.

Ginsberg, Allen. Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beats. Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2017.

Gopnik, Adam et al. "Understanding Steinese." The New Yorker, 2017, Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.

Kazin, Alfred. On native grounds: an interpretation of modern American prose literature. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Stein, Gertrude. Paris France. , 2013. Internet resource.



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