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Informally discussing the impact of urban centralization upon the American novel since the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, John C. Goodbody, graduate student in American Civilization, explained Wednesday evening to members of the American Civilization Group how novelists after 1860 have treated the comparatively new and perplexing problem of the growth of the modern city.
At first confused and even shocked by "ammoral conditions" in the new urban centers, and also seeking to provide the increasingly large percent of the American population who led dull, "stay-at-home" lives with escapist literature, authors around 1870, such a Bret Harte with his "sentimental minors", concentrated largely on travel and "local color" throughout the united States, said Goodbody.
Then writers typified by Henry Adams and later Upton Sinclair developed to a "realistic facing of the problems raised b urban growth," he stated further. "Finally, following World War I, novelists became used to the phenomena of the city, which previously they had considered an ugly ogre in American life, and took it more or less for granted"; and men such as "Ernest Hemingway have since concerned themselves in their novels with the reactions of individual characters to special emotional situations" without resort to a stereotyped local color or urban setting.
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