In Humphrey Carpenter's own words, 'This is the story of the longest-ever literary party, which went on in Montparnasse, on the Left Bank, throughout the 1920s.'
'This book', to continue to quote Carpenter himself, 'is chiefly a collage of Left-Bank expatriate life as it was experienced by the Hemingway generation - "The Lost Generation", as Gertrude Stein named it in a famous remark to Hemingway.'
There are brief portraits of Gertrude Stein, Natalie Clifford Barney and Sylvia Beach, who moved to Paris before the First World War and provided vital introductions for the exiles of the 1920s. The main narrative, however, concerns the years 1921 to 1928 because these saw the arrival and departure of Hemingway and most of his Paris associates.
'He is a compelling guide, catching the kind of idiosyncratic detail or incident that holds the readers' attention and maintains a cracking pace. Anyone wanting an introduction to the constellation of talent that made the Left Bank in Paris during the Twenties a second Greenwich Village would find this a useful and inspiring book.' Times Educational Supplement
Dubbed the "Lost Generation'' by Gertrude Stein, they were Americans who flocked to Paris in the post-WW I years, convinced that in the bohemian quarter of Montparnasse their creativity would flourish. Principal among them was Hemingway, who has the major share of this collective portrait by Carpenter, who also has written biographies of Auden and Tolkien. He follows the evolution of the Hemingway style``no fat, no adjectives, no adverbs''in anecdotes that reveal the personality of a not entirely likable man. Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kay Boyle, Djuna Barnes, Pound, Joyce and others who frequented the Shakespeare and Company bookstore or the art-filled rooms of Stein also contributed to the ``long, wild party'' whose glamour has not faded. In this social history, Carpenter illuminates as well the dark side of the heady period. Photos.