Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism

Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism

by Charles A. Riley II


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Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism by Charles A. Riley II

Among many art, music and literature lovers, particularly devotees of modernism, the expatriate community in France during the Jazz Age represents a remarkable convergence of genius in one place and period—one of the most glorious in history. Drawn by the presence of such avant-garde figures as Joyce and Picasso, artists and writers fled the Prohibition in the United States and revolution in Russia to head for the free-wheeling scene in Paris, where they made contact with rivals, collaborators, and a sophisticated audience of collectors and patrons. The outpouring of boundary-pushing novels, paintings, ballets, music, and design was so profuse that it belies the brevity of the era (1918–1929).

Drawing on unpublished albums, drawings, paintings, and manuscripts, Charles A. Riley offers a fresh examination of both canonic and overlooked writers and artists and their works, by revealing them in conversation with one another. He illuminates social interconnections and artistic collaborations among the most famous—Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gershwin, Diaghilev, and Picasso—and goes a step further, setting their work alongside that of African Americans such as Sidney Bechet, Archibald Motley Jr., and Langston Hughes, and women such as Gertrude Stein and Nancy Cunard. Riley’s biographical and interpretive celebration of the many masterpieces of this remarkable group shows how the creative community of postwar Paris supported astounding experiments in content and form that still resonate today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611688504
Publisher: University Press of New England
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,260,470
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

CHARLES A. RILEY II, a curator, critic, and professor of English, is the author of more than twenty books on the arts, as well as hundreds of features, news articles, exhibition catalogue essays, and reviews published in national and international magazines.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 Freedom: Anything Goes 15

1 Enter the Ballets Russes 33

2 One of Those Fabulous Flights Cole Porter 45

3 Stairway to Paradise George Gershwin 51

4 Inevitable Paris Beckoned John Dos Passes and e. e. cummings 57

5 Dancing on Dynamite Nancy Cunard 62

6 From Flappers to Philosophers F. Scott Fitzgerald 71

7 New Amazements Hart Crane 83

8 Weary Bluesman Langston Hughes 93

9 Making It in the Paris Art World 100

Part 2 Order: Blessed Rage 111

10 Existential Octaves Ernest Ansermet 113

11 Geometry and Gods, Side by Side Le Corbusier 119

12 Connoisseur of Contrasts Fernand Léger 132

13 Transfigurations of the Commonplace Gerald Murphy 140

14 Prophet of Disorder Oswald Spengler 161

Part 3 Truth: The Truest Sentence 165

15 The Truth in Painting Pablo Picasso 174

16 Words in a Strange Language Archibald MacLeish 194

17 The Malady of Language Eugene Jolas 213

18 The Real Thing Ernest Hemingway 221

Notes 237

Bibliography 249

Index 259

What People are Saying About This

Kenneth Wayne

“Riley’s book presents a great romp through one of the richest periods of artistic creation ever: Paris, 1918 to 1929. Newcomers and seasoned culture lovers alike will be treated to a fresh, full discussion of the artists, writers and musicians of the period and their dazzling paintings, writings and compositions.”

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