Writers from the Peace Corps
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Peace Corps Writers
3) Like the Lost Generation, the Beat Generation, and the Generation X-ers, Peace Corps writers have been widely anthologized. In 1991, Geraldine Kennedys Clover Park Press published fiction and non-fiction written by RPCVs in From the Center of the Earth, the first collection of Peace Corps writings. Scribners published Going Up Country: Travel Essays by Peace Corps Writers in 1994, and Curbstone Press published Living On The Edge: Fiction by Peace Corps Writers in 2000.
4) While we dont have a bookstore as famous as Shakespeare & Co., with its big stove and tables and shelves of books where we could all gather for conversation and café au lait, we do have a website: peacecorpswriters.org, designed by RPCV Marian Haley Beil.
Books that tred Peace Corps Volunteers
More significant than similarities with the Lost Generation is an examination of why writers went overseas in the first place, and how they wrote about their expatriate world.
It is generally accepted that many members of the Lost Generation rebelled against what America had become by the 1900s: a business-oriented society where money and a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant work ethic dominated the culture. To these writers, America was not a success story. It was a country devoid of a cosmopolitan culture.
Following World War I, a segment of American writers sought to escape that rigid style of life and literature. Europe promised them a way out. Lost Generation writers wanted to be apart from America in terms of what they wrote, how they wrote, and where they wrote. These disenfranchised artists packed their bags and traveled to London and Paris in search of literary freedom and a more diverse way of life rich in new viewpoints and experiences.
The impulse of Peace Corps writers to join the agency is not so much to escape as to expand their world beyond the limits of what they find in America, and to develop new material from the experience of living in another culture. Like most Peace Corps Volunteers, writers have joined for a number of reasons, many of which they were not able even to articulate when they took their Peace Corps oath. Nevertheless, many of these Kennedy Kids carried with them portable typewriters (and now computers) on which to write the Great Peace Corps Novel while serving in the developing world.
The Kennedy Kids in the Age of The Organization Man
During the 1950s, two impulses swept across the United States. One impulse that characterized the decade was detailed in two best-selling books of the times: the 1955 novel by Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and the non-fiction The Organization Man, written by William H. Whyte and published in 1956. These books looked at the American way of life and how men got ahead on the job and in society. Both are bleak looks at the corporate world.
These books were underscored by Ayn Rands philosophy as expressed in such novels as Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957. Her philosophy of Objectivism proposed reason as mans only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. Every man, according to Rand, was an end in himself. He must work for rational self-interest, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. Objectivism rejected any form of altruism.