What happens when the party is over? Can you ever truly escape your past? Jacke and Mike take a look at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1931 story of guilt and melancholy, “Babylon Revisited.”
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD (1896-1940) was the quintessential Jazz Age writer. While he’s known today primarily as the author of the near-perfect novel The Great Gatsby, in his lifetime he was far more famous for his short stories, which millions of readers encountered through big-circulation magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. Fitzgerald published 65 stories in The Saturday Evening Post, including “Babylon Revisited,” which tells the story of an American father living in post-Crash Paris, hoping for a reunion with his nine-year-old daughter–but fearing the reminders from his past that might make that impossible.
NOTE: This is a self-contained episode of The History of Literature, in which both the story and a discussion of it are provided. No reading necessary (unless you’d prefer it that way)!
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Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was one of the most famous American writers of the twentieth century. His plain, economical prose style–inspired by journalism and the King James Bible, with an assist from the Cezannes he viewed in Gertrude Stein’s apartment–became a hallmark of modernism and changed the course of American literature. In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at an author and novel, The Sun Also Rises (1927), they’ve been reading and discussing for decades.
Want more Hemingway? We took a new look at an old argument in Episode 47 Hemingway vs Fitzgerald.
Love everything about the Lost Generation? Spend some time with the coiner of the phrase in Episode 127 Gertrude Stein.
Rather be tramping through Europe? Try Episode 157 Travel Books (with Mike Palindrome).
Looking for Irving’s New Yorker piece? Visit Literature’s Great Couples on Tinder.
Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to email@example.com.
Jean Toomer (1894-1967) was born into a prominent black family in Washington, D.C., but it wasn’t until he returned to the land of agrarian Georgia that he was inspired to write his masterpiece Cane (1923), a towering achievement that went on to influence the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and the Lost Generation. While Toomer’s own life presents a portrait of a man searching for an identity in a world of too-rigid categorization, the confident and self-assured Cane stands for a universality that defies categorization and bridges American divisions. In this episode, host Jacke Wilson reflects upon his own search for identity in small-town Wisconsin, which coincidentally was one of the places where Jean Toomer landed as well.
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“I Been ‘Buked” (trad. Negro Spiritual), performed by the Georgia Spiritual Ensemble.
“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).