American fiction came fully of age between the start of World War 1 in 1914 and the end of World War 2 in 1945.Edith Wharton, Willar Cather and Theodore Dreiser undaunted description of American life motivated a new generation of writers. For instance , Sinclair Lewis who became the first American to win the Nobel prize in 1930 recalled that Dreiser’s first novel ‘sister Carrie (1900)‘came to housebound and airless America like a great free western wind and to our stuff domesticity gave us the first fresh air since Mark Twain and Whitman. ‘The realism and naturalism that became main modes of American fiction around 1900 remained critical forces in the work of younger writers who arose during and immediately after world war 1.In France the revolution became more apparent when for instance Gertrude stein moved permanently to Paris in 1903 and began to collect Avant Garde works by Paul Cezanne widely regarded as the father of modern art and younger artists such as Pablo Picasso who was the central figure in the development of cubism.
Stein wrote experimental prose in which she sought to adapt visual strategies of cubism. He also challenged conceptions of literary realism by writing sketches and stories that disrupted chronology and linear narrative. Other American writers were first introduced to cubism and other movements at the Armory show that toured cities in the United States in 1913.Sherwood Anderson who saw the show in Chicago began to write the experimental stories he later collected in Winesburg Ohio (1919).
Stein and Anderson later became friends and influenced a number of younger American writers such as Jean Toomer who after reading Winesburg wrote Cane (1923) which is a collection of poems, stories and sketches about life in black communities in rural Georgia and urban North. In his book, Tooners revealed the strong impact of contemporary poetry.
Ernest Hemingway, a young Chicago journalist was also encouraged to pursue a literary career by moving to Paris and under the tutelage of Stein and poet Ezra Pound wrote and published his first two books ‘Three stories and Ten Poems(1923) and in our time (1924).
The fiction at war was also applied by American artists. Alongside American writers and artists, Stuart Davis was also influenced and invigorated by the sojourn in Paris. Through his painting in 1931, Stuart Davis presented his memories of the trip and also juxtaposed the features found in New York and Paris city. He included a sidewalk café and a miniature Chrysler building. He presented the modernism of the new city by memorizing and painting in the upper corner of cubist composition and blending the elements of the two centers. The stories about America came up and by Adams who opted to use the paintings and create fiction on wars with other countries (Fitzgerald’s, 822). The writers then influenced broader movement in Europe culture. There were upcoming theories by Sigmund Freud and disciple Carl Jung giving wider currency to the concepts e.g. sexual repression.
However, the European novelists offered new ways of representing and seeing the world in a different way. Joyce’s first novel ‘portrait of the artist as a young man’ in 1916 published to acclaim widely in US. Her language and literary form also fascinated many of Americans writers. Novels were major agents of changes in physical, social and cultural landscape in US. Faulkner, Hemingway and other novelists emerged following the World War I being the part of the generation. They both grew up and finding all the Gods dead, all faith and man already shaken and all wars fought as stated by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his first novel “This side of Paradise” in 1920. The novel also talked about the booming of industries after and during wars.
After the crash of stock market in 1929, was considered as the one that altered the course of American fiction. The crush then caused economic depression and it then forced many writers to plunge into politics because of homelessness and unemployment.
Steinbecks work’ Long Valley’ which he collected where he grew up in central was deeply rooted in California. Wrights first book Uncle Tom’s children (1938) was a collection of bitter stories in the segregated south .Zora Neale Hurston an anthropologist and novelist who grew up in Florida drew upon her study of African American dialect and folk culture in her novels and stories. William Faulkner, a white writer employed modernist literary techniques in exploring his ‘own little postage stamp of native soil’.
He inspired younger southern writers such as Eudora Welty who recorded her life in Mississippi in photographs and stories. She displayed interest in social protest that fuelled much of American fiction of 1930s. Although fiction was popular during WWII, Americans were absorbed by reports from journalists in front lines especially after US entered war in December 1941.