By Eric Homberger
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Extra info for American Writers and Radical Politics, 1900–39: Equivocal Commitments
She is led step by step through a conversion experience. The world now looks differently to Avis, and the superficial pleasures of her class have become repellent. ' Jack London 21 The investigation into Jackson's case has consequences for them all. Avis at first notices a 'certain aloofness' in her friends. The opinion gains ground, especially among the wives of prominent members of the faculty of the University of California, that Avis has become 'a too-forward and self-asserting young woman'.
But Eden was also an artist, and had to learn the hard way that there was no alternative to fighting for his own values. The alternative in such a society was 'the needs of others'. In his case, that meant the needs (and literary taste) of his sister Marian, who liked happy endings; and his sister Gertrude's husband, who thought the sonnet cycle of love poems was obscene. It also included the editors of magazines, who wanted optimistic, light fiction that would be inoffensive to their readers. Ruth Morse, too, was one ofthe 'others' whose opinions and taste were exceedingly conservative.
Sinclair was then twenty-six, and had published four undistinguished novels. His contempt for the bourgeoisie was no less real than Mrs Atherton's, but it lacked her haughty and aristocratic disdain. The bourgeois, he wrote, is well fed himself, his wife is stout, and his children are fine and vigorous. He lives in a big house, and wears the latest thing in clothes; his civilization furnishes these to everyone - at least to everyone who amounts to anything; and beyond that he unders tands nothing - save only the desire to be en tertained.