Miss Lonelyhearts

by: Nathanael West

Important Quotations Explained

"...they had believed in literature, had believed in Beauty and in personal expression as an absolute end. When they lost this belief, they lost everything. Money and fame meant nothing to them. They were not worldly men."

Miss Lonelyhearts makes this remark about his friends at the speakeasy in "Miss Lonelyhearts and the Clean Old Man." Though he earlier discusses the drying out of religious faith, here he shows that another kind of faith—in art—has also been lost by his generation. In fact, the corruption of his generation of failed artists is so great that even typically sinful obsessions—money and fame—no longer hold value. As they have just been discussing the benefits of rape against literary women, it is clear that these men are absolutely soulless creatures who merely drink and carouse—as Miss Lonelyhearts later says, they are "machines" for making jokes.