According to Ludwig Lewisohn, the trouble with naturalism in American literature is it has stayed around too long. Lewisohn, Erskine Caldwell, and Thomas Dunn, head of the English Department at Drake University, argued the naturalistic novel at Friday night's Law School forum.
Replying to Caldwell's statement that American Literature is "an untamed, rampaging creature," Lewisohn said that he was sick of reading contemporary Zolas.
"Never has the cultural time lag been so excessive as it is in American Literature today," Lewisohn stated. "Contemporary authors glorify the common man in his commonness. They don't want to help or raise him. He is the measure of all things."
Dunn opposed Lewishon and called naturalism "the application of scientific concepts and techniques to literature."
Caldwell resented being termed a naturalist. He believed, however, that the effect of naturalism on contemporary novelists has been a good one, and that all creative writing leads to an understanding of an intolerant world.
Jones' Army Dubbed
Claiming that if everyone in the United States Army was like the squad in James Jones' "From Here to Eternity," we would have lost the war, Lewisohn called for a rebirth of "the significant Personality" in literature.
Despite the "scientific" methods of present-day novelists, Dunn agreed with Lewisohn in saying "Naturalism and Freud have provided an umbrella for pornography to stand under which it does not need."