Lost Girls

The Invention of the Flapper

Linda Simon

Lost Girls

Linda Simon

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 45 halftones | 6 x 8 1/4
Cloth $24.00 ISBN: 9781780238128 Published October 2017 For sale in North and South America only
In the glorious, boozy party that followed World War I, a new being burst defiantly onto the world stage: the flapper. Young, impetuous, and flirtatious, she was an alluring, controversial figure, celebrated in movies, fiction, plays, and the pages of fashion magazines. But, as Linda Simon argues, the flapper didn’t appear out of nowhere. Lost Girls gives us a spirited history with a fresh look at the reality of young women’s experiences in America and Britain from the 1890s to the 1920s—the era when the “modern girl” emerged.

Lost Girls is a story of youth derided and fetishized; of aging viscerally feared. It is a story of young women growing up in a culture beset by anxiety about adolescent girls. It is about women trying to shape their own identity amid contradictory theories of adolescence and sexuality, the politics of suffrage, and popular fiction, theater, cinema, and dance hall crazes. Simon shows us how the modern girl bravely created a culture, a look, and a future of her own.

Lost Girls is an illuminating history of the iconic flapper as she evolved from a problem to a temptation, and finally, in the 1920s and beyond, to an aspiration.
Review Quotes
Times
"To read Simon’s social and literary history of flappers is to feel . . . the relief of the loosening of corsets, the excitement of the shimmy and tango in the dance hall, the thrill of smoking, the bliss of escape from detested chaperoning rules, and the swooning effect of watching Rudolph Valentino on the silent screen."
Sarah Murdoch | Toronto Star
"[An] entertaining new book from the front lines of feminism. . . . We think of flappers as flirty, rebellious young women given to snappy one-liners, short dresses, and flat chests. We rarely give credit to these bright young things as the women who shed their mother’s Victorian corsetry and prudish notions about sex and scotch. Simon’s engaging history explores this seminal postwar moment, exploring the evolution of these radical young girls (Simon calls them 'girls' in a good way) from 'a problem to a temptation, and finally, in the 1920s and beyond, to an aspiration.'"
Kyle McMillen | New Books Network
"Using sources from popular culture and from people of the time, Simon asserts that the image of the flapper did not appear out of a single historical moment but rather was invented over the decades. The flapper did not limit its impact to fashion and women’s attitudes, but also intersected with debates about race, immigration, politics, and the like. Simon’s book is an excellent and very accessible narrative on the flapper and will be of interest to anyone fascinated with gender and the history of the late-nineteenth to early-twentieth century."
Catharine R. Stimpson, New York University
Lost Girls finds an irresistible history of many girls. They longed to be modern, New Women, and in the Jazz Age, transgressive flappers. They wanted to dance, go to the movies, dress freely, work, be independent, and even vote. Arrayed against them were parents, scientists, politicians, and an imprisoning cult of motherhood. Simon, with verve and wit and eloquence, shows us their battles, scars, and victories—a vibrant legacy for the twenty-first century.”
Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London
“Social anxieties have a way of coalescing around young women’s bodies, Simon demonstrates in Lost Girls, her riveting, deeply-researched counter-history of the flapper. Behind the beads, the bob, the fringe, and the Charleston, there is a much darker story to be told.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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