English Literature in Paris

Instructor: David Selim Sayers

“You are all a lost generation.”
– Gertrude Stein

Interwar Paris played host to an exceptional cohort of Anglophone authors, drawn to the city’s thriving cultural scene, lenient censorship laws, and affordable prices. As a result, some of the foundational works of twentieth-century English literature were written and published in Paris. Forged in the deeply traumatic and intensely creative atmosphere between two world wars, these works staged a profound reimagining of literature. Their innovations were stylistic, exploring confessional and autobiographical forms of expression, but also thematic, questioning and dissecting fundamental concepts such as the individual, society, and gender.

In this course, we will focus on four celebrated and notorious works: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926), The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein (1933), Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934), and Henry and June by Anaïs Nin (1931-32; published 1986). We will embed the authors and works in their historical context through biographical sketches, assess each work’s style and themes through a close reading of excerpts, analyze the connections that unite the works into a literary trend, and explore their relationship to the city of Paris. Finally, as talk of a “Lost Generation” has come back in fashion, we will discuss the relevance of these works to our pandemic days.

The course will conclude with a tour of memorable Parisian sites important to the books.

Maximum enrollment: 10


Saturday – Sunday, 14:00-17:30
1-2, 8-9 April 2023
2 weeks (14 hours)


75016, Paris

All PICT courses are held in person. Participants will be contacted by the course instructor with all relevant details (readings if any, exact address, etc.) via email during the week leading up to the course.

All PICT courses are exclusive for PICT Members. Become a member from 3 euros/month.

This course is fully enrolled; if you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please write to info@parisinstitute.org.