1920: Books and Literature

Hercule Poirot appears for the first time in 1920 in the Agatha Christie novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. He is a Belgian retired police detective and genius, living in England as a refugee from the recent war. Captain Hastings describes Poirot in chapter two of The Mysterious Affair at Styles:

“He was hardly more than five feet four inches but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible.
The neatness of his attire was almost incredible; I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandified little man who, I was sorry to see, now limped badly, had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police.”

Also published in 1920:
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s debut novel was a critical success, but it has been somewhat overshadowed by his most famous and successful book, The Great Gatsby.

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. Main Street was initially awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, but it was rejected by the Board of Trustees, who overturned the jury’s decision. Semicolon review here.

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Newland Archer is torn between the expectations of society and his own desire for stability and respectability and the passion and adventure he experiences with the exciting and forbidden Countess Olenska. He must choose between May Welland, the woman whom all New York society expects him to marry, and Ellen Olenska, the woman who needs his love and awakens his passion. This novel actually won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature after Main Street was rejected.

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting.

The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset. This novel about a young Norwegian girl in the Middle Ages is the first in a trilogy of books about the life of the fictional Kristin Lavransdatter. It is a lovely set of books, well worth the time and energy that it takes to read them in translation. Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928. Semicolon review of Kristin Lavransdatter. More on the novel here.

For more book suggestions check out Reading the Twenties by Dani Torres at A Work in Progress.

One thought on “1920: Books and Literature

  1. Funny, I don;t remember Poirot having a limp…maybe Christie lost it in later novels.

    I am so enjoying this series of literature through the years – thanks for doing the research!

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