Outside the Book Episode 4: The Jazz Age
“Outside the Book” is a new monthly list that brings together materials from several areas of the library’s collections under the banner of an entertaining theme. Our themes may remind you of something you wanted to read, watch, listen to, or explore. Check back regularly for updates to our Outside the Book column to find new treasures!
The Roaring Twenties was alternatively known as The Jazz Age. Following World War I, about 500,000 African Americans in search of better employment opportunities moved to the northern part of the United States. With them, they brought their culture and in New York, the start of the Harlem Renaissance. During this period of time, the works of African Americans in fields such as writing and music escalated. Styles of music including Dixieland, blues and smooth jazz became prevalent through the genius of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Benny Goodman and George Gershwin.
The writers of the 1920’s were diverse and determined to expose the many prejudices, pretenses, and political corruption of the times. Writers of the Harlem Renaissance celebrated racial pride. The novels of Zora Neal Hurston, poetry of Countee Cullen and poetry, plays, essays and novels of Langston Hughes gave Negroes a voice capturing their folklore, promoting equality, condemning racism and injustice, and celebrating African American culture, humor, and spirituality.
It was the age of the “lost generation,” those authors in Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris who expressed their disillusionment with American society through their novels Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and the one of the most famous chronicler of 1920s, F Scott Fitzgerald with Great Gatsby. Other social critics and satirists of the age include Sinclair Lewis, Dorothy Parker, James Thurber, Sherwood Anderson, and T.S. Eliot. Many of whom wrote for the New Yorker which was founded by Harold Ross in 1925.
You can also get feel the glitter and chic of the times by reading mysteries by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ngaio Marsh and Josephine Tey.
So now it’s time to settle in with a cup of Earl Grey, a copy of Moveable Feast, Rhapsody in Blue playing in the background and you are there.