The Plastic Age
The Plastic Age (1924) is a novel by Percy Marks that tells the story of Hugh Carver, a student at a fictional men's college called Sanford. With contents that covered or implied hazing, smoking, drinking, partying, and "petting", the book sold well enough to be the second best-selling novel of 1924. The book was, however, banned in Boston. The following year, it was adapted into a film of the same name, starring Clara Bow.
Marks was an English instructor at Brown University at the time of publication. Previously he taught at Dartmouth College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brown's administration took offense at the book, which they perceived to be a barely disguised version of Brown, and Marks's teaching contract was not renewed. The Plastic Age provides a composite image of 1920s campus life with many references to campus traditions at Dartmouth and Brown including bonfires, beanies, and fraternity rushing. The novel is notable for its depiction of students attending a film, a lightly fictionalized representation of the Nugget Theater in Hanover, NH which had opened in 1916. Marks and his book remained popular on college campuses for several years after the book's publication. Students—including humorist S. J. Perelman—protested his release and a satire of the book, titled, "The Plastered Age," by E.Z. Mark, was produced on campus; but to no avail. Marks left academia for many years and devoted his time to writing books.
In 1928, under the title Red Lips, the novel was again adapted into a film. This remake starred Charles "Buddy" Rogers, who had just co-starred with Clara Bow in a different film, Wings, the previous year.
The Plastic Age was reprinted in 1980, in a series subtitled "Lost American Fiction," from Southern Illinois University Press and continues to be available in book form from other sources.
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