The "Lost Generation" was the generation that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway, who used it as one of two contrasting epigraphs for his novel, The Sun Also Rises. In that volume Hemingway credits the phrase to Gertrude Stein, who was then his mentor and patron. This generation included artists and writers who came of age during the war such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Waldo Peirce, Isadora Duncan, Abraham Walkowitz, Alan Seeger, Franz Kafka, Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Erich Maria Remarque and the composers Sergei Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith, George Gershwin, and Aaron Copland.
In A Moveable Feast, published after Hemingway's and Stein's deaths, Hemingway claims that Stein heard the phrase from a garage owner who serviced Stein's car. When a young mechanic failed to repair the car quickly enough, the garage owner shouted at the boy, "You are all a "génération perdue." Stein, in telling Hemingway the story, added, "That is what you are. That's what you all are ... all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation."
'Lost means not vanished but disoriented, wandering, directionless — a recognition that there was great confusion and aimlessness among the war's survivors in the early post-war years.'
The 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises popularized the term, as Hemingway used it as an epigraph. The novel serves to epitomize the post-war expatriate generation. However, Hemingway himself later wrote to his editor Max Perkins that the "point of the book" was not so much about a generation being lost, but that "the earth abideth forever"; he believed the characters in The Sun Also Rises may have been "battered" but were not lost.
In his memoir A Moveable Feast, published after his death, he writes "I tried to balance Miss Stein's quotation from the garage owner with one from Ecclesiastes." A few lines later, recalling the risks and losses of the war, he adds: "I thought of Miss Stein and Sherwood Anderson and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline and I thought 'who is calling who a lost generation?'".