Gertrude Stein? Ernest Hemingway? Hotel Keeper? Automobile Repair Shop Owner? Anonymous?
Question for Quote Investigator: Would you please explore the provenance of the following expression? Here are two versions:
You are all a lost generation.
You are all a génération perdue.
The phrase “lost generation” has been applied to young people who experienced the repercussions of World War I. It has also been narrowly applied to a group of U.S. expatriate writers who lived in Paris after the war.
Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1926 prominent U.S. writer Ernest Hemingway published the acclaimed novel “The Sun Also Rises” which began with the following epigraph. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1926 Copyright, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, (Epigraph for book), Quote Page 1, Grosset & Dunlap, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
“You are all a lost generation.”
—Gertrude Stein in conversation.
Interestingly, author Gertrude Stein did not coin this phrase, but there are two different stories about the originator. Hemingway claimed that Stein heard the phrase from an automobile repair shop owner. Yet, Stein wrote that she heard the phrase from a hotel keeper. Details are given below.