3 Law Forum Authors Laud U.S. Literature
Schulberg Dissents On 'Commercialism'
Three novelists at the third Law School Forum of the season last night had good words for the American novel; the fourth, Budd Schulberg, was deeply concerned about the problem of novelists receiving disproportionate praise and blame from crities and public.
Schulberg said many writers were plagued by "too much success," but added that often critics went in the opposite direction and underpraised.
More favorable to the American novel was A. B. Guthrie, Jr., who maintained that not enough American history was being taught today, and argued that the good historical novel was an excellent substitute for straight history.
In fact, said Guthrie, the good historical novel is better than a history book--for it tells us why the people of the past acted as they did, explaining their feelings and thoughts as well as their acts."
Esther Forbes argued that escape, a favorite object of complaint, is actually a good thing. "We all need escape now and then," she said, "but what we escape into is important." A novel is predigested, selected, and orderly--and it may have a thought-provoking moral, she said.
James T. Farrell, final speaker on the program, said that writing today is a respectable trade, and that American novelists have no need to apologize. Once a hotbed of commercialism and infantilism in public taste, America is still a "hack-writers' paradise" in some respects, but the serious authors have had financial success, indicating that a sizable part of the reading public is reasonably intelligent.
Professor Howard Mumford Jones was the moderator.