Identify books or writers that depicted life in the 1920s.Identify books or writers that depicted life in the 1920s.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my mind, the writer upon which you might want to focus for a good telling of life in the 1920s would have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Books like The Great Gatsby or short stories such as "Winter Dreams" or "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" do a wonderful job of depicting life in the 1920s.  Fitzgerald captures the energy and vitality of the social life during this time, but also is able to undercut it with a sense of the sadness and hollowness that was intrinsic to it.  In reading Fitzgerald, I think one gets the full sense of what it meant to be alive in the Jazz Age, and how it felt to be a part of a moment in time where so much was built on such a false foundation.  Along those lines, I think you would be well set to examine some of the works by the Harlem Renaissance figures of the time period.  These writers sought to depict what it meant to be Black in America during the 1920s.  While writers like Langston Hughes were more known for poetic contributions, I think that reading poems such as "Harlem" or "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" or "I, Too, Sing of America" would really help you get a strong feel of the time period from the point of view of a person of color, something often forgotten in a study of the 1920s.  Finally, I would suggest examining the life and  works of Dorothy Parker.  A writer during the Jazz Age who was known for her intense with, Parker embodies much of the time period's greatness and frailty.  It might be worthwhile studying some of the writings/ quotes of Parker if you are trying to get a handle on the Jazz Age.

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