Cover

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Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xvi

To be in the right place at the right time was the enviable knack of the astonishingly young geniuses of the Jazz Age. Paris in the twenties meant proximity to James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Gertrude Stein, Igor Stravinsky, and the international...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Wild, hot, roaring, and rhapsodic to the point of danger, jazz is rarely mistaken for a calm, cold medium of control. The stars of the Jazz Age are typically depicted as a gang of Dionysians—the Lost Generation, as Gertrude Stein insultingly called them—whose blithely decadent...

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Part 1. Freedom: Anything Goes

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pp. 15-32

“Live it up to write it down”1 was the systole and diastole of the Jazz Age, turning loose on the page, stage, or canvas the youthful excesses of a blissful circuit of parties without end in Montparnasse, on the Place Vendôme, or at the Côte d’Azur. The war was over, and the bubbles...

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1. Enter the Ballets Russes

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pp. 33-44

The other side of the modernist coin was the formidable network of Les Six and the Ballets Russes, who dominated the concert and ballet world, shamelessly lifting ideas from jazz. The central figure in the group of French composers was Satie, but he is not counted in the six...

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2. One of Those Fabulous Flights: Cole Porter

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pp. 45-50

Not all Jazz Age opening nights were as wild as that of Parade or as auspicious as that of Apollon Musagète. “My one effort to be respectable must remain in limbo,” Cole Porter told a biographer in 1965, referring to his experimental ballet Within the Quota (the title alludes to the ever...

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3. Stairway to Paradise: George Gershwin

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pp. 51-56

The musical paradigm for the expatriate experience in Paris is George Gershwin’s symphonic accomplishment. He first visited the city at the tail end of a hurried London gig in April 1923. Most of his more famous and productive trips were also in April (in 1925; 1926; and, triumphantly...

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4. Inevitable Paris Beckoned: John Dos Passos

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pp. 57-61

John Dos Passos and e. e. cummings were freshly minted Harvard graduates who burned a trail through the twenties, often playing wingman not just to each other but to their close friend Ernest Hemingway. Dos Passos and cummings had been inseparable since their college days...

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5. Dancing on Dynamite: Nancy Cunard

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pp. 62-70

The flapper roll call from Josephine Baker to Zelda Fitzgerald and all the bold-faced names in between includes Diana Cooper, Tallulah Bankhead, Pola Negri, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Djuna Barnes, and Kay Boyle. A favorite name on that list of fast women...

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6. From Flappers to Philosophers: F. Scott Fitzgerald

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pp. 71-82

In simple terms, there would be no Great Gatsby without F. Scott Fitzgerald’s visit to France. Revisiting that masterpiece, the summit not just of his career but, some would contend, of American literature, in the context of Sara and Gerald Murphy’s vortex of young geniuses restores...

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7. New Amazements: Hart Crane

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pp. 83-92

When the literary lights of the Jazz Age are invoked, the glamorous, ocean-liner set comes readily to mind (F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, e. e. cummings, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin)...

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8. Weary Bluesman: Langston Hughes

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pp. 93-99

By decade’s end, many of the century’s greatest literary careers had been launched by the materials and movements that, like decent croissants and excellent wine, could be found only in France. Manuscripts postmarked Paris became one debut volume of poetry or fiction after...

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9. Making It in the Paris Art World

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pp. 100-110

Sidney Bechet, Josephine Baker, and Langston Hughes were not alone in Paris. Just as the musicians moved along the track from New Orleans to Chicago, Harlem, and then Paris, a group of painters followed a migratory route to France via the Art Institute of Chicago and illustration...

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Part 2. Order: Blessed Rage

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pp. 111-112

If freedom was the dominant mode of the twenties, then its opposite number had an uphill battle to wage. The rectitude of a white cube house, the sharp black edge of a machine in a still life, the precise mathematical relations behind musical harmony and the strict periodic tables...

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10. Existential Octaves: Ernest Ansermet

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pp. 113-118

Everybody knows the stars of the era —Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie —but the transatlantic musical community needed a nodal figure to negotiate the contradictions between new and old. Cue Ernest Ansermet, carrying...

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11. Geometry and Gods, Side by Side: Le Corbusier

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pp. 119-131

Purism had its beginnings in a small Swiss village nestled in the Jura mountains just a short distance along Lac Léman from Ansermet’s hometown. La Chaux-de-Fonds is the hometown of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known today as Le Corbusier. Before the famous blackframed...

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12. Connoisseur of Contrasts: Fernand Léger

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pp. 132-139

He may not have been as successful as Pablo Picasso or as influential as Le Corbusier, but the Jazz Age was good to Fernand Léger. Thrilled to be alive after four years of battle, having survived the trenches in the Argonne Forest and a mustard-gas attack at Verdun, he...

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13. Transfigurations of the Commonplace: Gerald Murphy

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pp. 140-160

In the twenties, Fernand Léger was a cheerful, avuncular presence among the young American, Russian, and English expatriates on the Left Bank. One novice painter who took him as a mentor and earned his respect was Gerald Murphy. The two men met in the fall...

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14. Prophet of Disorder: Oswald Spengler

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pp. 161-164

The artists and architects were not the only Jazz Age thinkers concerned with imposing order on the chaos wrought by World War I. Imagine the problem faced by contemporary historians, convinced that the so-called war to end all wars had just concluded and an era of permanent...

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Part 3. Truth: The Truest Sentence

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pp. 165-173

Even if beauty took a back seat in the wake of the disastrous deceit passed like counterfeit coin down the chain of command during World War I, the will to truth engendered a reactionary wave of realism during the Jazz Age that was as urgent as the lust for freedom or the idealization...

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15. The Truth in Painting: Pablo Picasso

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pp. 174-193

As in practically every decade from the beginning of the twentieth century to his death in April 1973, Pablo Picasso takes his star turn during the twenties, but not without a few catcalls from an audience sprinkled with loyalists to the avant-garde agenda. The undeniable majesty...

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16. Words in a Strange Language: Archibald MacLeish

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pp. 194-212

Another great artist created a hauntingly intimate portrait of Sara Murphy in the same year that Pablo Picasso painted Woman in White. It is a pity that nobody reads or teaches the poetry of Archibald MacLeish any more. Like Conrad Aiken, an apt contemporary comparison in...

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17. The Malady of Language: Eugene Jolas

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pp. 213-220

In an era of complex identities, the “American” writer Eugene Jolas remains a singularly labyrinthine figure. Among the people considered in these pages, only Langston Hughes knew such ambivalence about roots. Proud to have been born in New Jersey, “the man from Babel...

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18. The Real Thing: Ernest Hemingway

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pp. 221-236

By 1925 the charismatic Hemingway was already a Paris tourist attraction, sitting at a café table and drawing the envious or adoring looks of American writers eager to follow his example. MacLeish included a cameo in the poem “Years of the Dog” in which he described “the lad...

Notes

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pp. 237-248

Bibliography

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pp. 249-258

Index

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pp. 259-271

Credits

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p. 272

Color Illustrations

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