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November 20, 1921 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1921-11-20

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(By Eva Anderson) ing by the naturalists
Theye appeared in these columns cal and spiritual tex
last week an attack on naturalism. life? New values tod
The writer no kdoubt expected an ones that are constan
answer. He perhaps knew that there ing and changing. In
are among students here too many ad- form new values we
herents of the naturalistic writers know in all its intim
for his views to stand unassailed. But from which alone su
upon starting to write, I hesitate, This arise. The fundamen
struggle between the real and the which rest all sciences
ideal is as old, of course, as the fac- istic art is that the con
ulty of expression. And compared to ly significant.
all that has been said on tioe subject However, Mr. How
in the past, this latest man festation stumble upon these v
seems puerile-a tempest in a tin can. in what he terms "o
But such is the calibre of the usual ments." He and the r
colege discussion. . ists seem to prefer t
The first point upon which I dis- mediate facts of humas
agree with Mr. Hoover, the author of lude themselves with
the article, is his affirmation that fectionism. Their "ido
naturalism is hostile to man's pro- more than meye empty
gress in living. He considers the they are not bi evolved
ugliness and sordidness of life; to give longings of the huma
a photographic view of life and to rest The second charge
content. This fallacy is an old one, Hoover against the nat
and I am rather surprised to find it is that it "consciously
so persistent. ly avoids the climax."
As a matter of fact, the spirit of our naturalists will havei
naturalists' endeavor to understand max" as this device is
and present the facts of human life explained in the avert
just as they are is somewhat the same class. To them clim
spirit that governs the scientists when lumber. Life-the st
he tries to discover and understand they deal, and'deal ho
that which is. These moderns observe work towards "curta:
life with stringent closeness and as it series of conveniently
is; even as science has seen the pro- sodes. Going a.step fa
cesses of nature as they are. The sci- essential to art? If s
entist sees the processes of nature not for climax in a song,i
as some theological preconception statue?
would have them be; in the same way Mr. Hoover objects
the naturalist of the first rank sees exclusion (he callsi
life not as some moralistic preconcep- once) of climax on t
tion would have it be. human experience isa
And what is to come of 4l this delv- maxes" and not a "mo


into the physi-
ture of human
displace the old
tly disintegrat-
n attempting to
must strive to
acy, the reality
uch values can
tal truth upon
and all natural-
crete is eternal-
ver prefers to
alues tr ideals
our nobler mo-
est of the ideal-
to veil the im-
n nature and de-
a hollow per-
eals" can be no
y figments since
d by the genuine
n soul.
brought by Mr.
uralistic method
and deliberate--
It is true that
nothing of "cli-
so ponderously
age "literature"
ax is so much
uff with which
nestly-does not
ins" through a
y arranged. epi-
arther, is climax
o, why not look
a painting, or a
further to the
it "expunction"
he ground that
a "series of cli-
notonous level"

"_ 1
. ,
.t #
f 1

as he sees it portrayed in naturalistic
fiction. But, I question, do not cli-
maxes become monotonies after they
begin to repeat themselves? And many
repetitions are inevitable, especially in
the mental life, because a man's tend-
ency is to react rather than to act.
The article then cites history as a
record of a series of climaxes, but he
neglects the fact that history is not
art; the writing of it is a science.
His two. main charges against natur-
alism concluded, Mr. Hoover begins to
argue "constructive criticism." I won-
der if in so doing he is aware that he
disposes of Voltaire, Swift, and a half
hundred other famous critical writers.
In this "constructive criticism," I
find Mr. Hoover contradicting directly
what he set forth in the first part of
his article. At first he is prone to
condemn naturalism and naturalistic
methods because such a view of life
would keep things static, hinder all
progress. Now having advanced
through a half column, he is ready to
affirm that it is not a matter of pro-
gress, but of moving in cycles. He is
also-ready to prophesy that the "litera-
ture of tomorrow" will be profoundly
influ'enced and reinforced by the nat-
uralistic method. Thus, he has proved
He is also given to the making of
bold statements, to back up which he
makes no effort whatever. For ex-
ample: "The writer does not -naintain
that naturalisi is not art-but he does
say that it is not the highest art." Who
is to stand judgment? Mr. Hoover needs
to learn from the naturalists a lesson
about drawing conclusions. The great
naturalistic artist sets down his vision
of life and is silent. /

At the end of his article Mr. Hoover
seems to demand that art be a sort of
short cut to cheerful living. Of course,
there is nothing of this kind in natu-
ralistic writing any more than there is
in the "Iliad" or in "Lear." The natu-
ralists recognize life for "the vast and
awful business" that it is. They are
trying to understand and conquer an
unfathomable world by grappling with
the facts of life first-hand.
Can life, which contains so much
meaningless monotony and common-
ness, be other than tragic? Persons
who have not the courage to face this
fact may seek refuge in reading fairy
tales with the children. Men of stern-
er stuff will turn to Whitman who,
feeling only "underfoot the divine soil.
overhead the sun," desired also that
man in literature should be treated "as
he is in himself and in his own rights."
Enssell's Book Seli in England
In October 1919, Alfred A. Knopf
published a first book of short stories
of the South Seas by a young Ameri-
can writer, John Russell,- under the
title "The Red Mark." Only a few
hundred copies were sold, and both
author and publisher were according-
ly much disappointed. The book was
published this year in England under
a new title, "Where the Pavement
Ends", and proved one of the chief
successes of the London season, run-
ning through eight editions in the
month immediately following publi-
cation. It has now been republished
here by Mr. Knopf under the English
title, the American edition having two
more stories than the English.

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