World War I (1914-18)

Glory and disillusion

America was involved in The Great War from 1917 onwards, its troops being sent to support the Allies. Fitzgerald joined up but never saw active service, which he said he regretted terribly, since peace was declared just before he was sent to fight. Compared to Europe, which suffered deaths in millions, American losses were comparatively light. However, everywhere there was disillusionment about the glorification of war.

WWI US troops returning homeThe effect of the war on America was significant: the term ‘Lost Generation’ was coined by Getrude Stein and came to be used to describe the young people who had become adults at the time of the war. The phrase reflected the feeling that this generation had lost its direction and sense of purpose. Fitzgerald also expressed his feeling that the energy and intense readiness for action anticipated by his peers was not expended by the war, and thus needed to find another outlet in the extremes of the 1920s Jazz Age (although this very much reflects his own personal experience).

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