"And so, as in primitive story-telling, the social function of these forays into the realm of fancy demands that the experiences thus vicariously shared be happy or valorous ones. 'There's enough trouble in the world all about one, so why should people have to put it in books?' is an opinion frequently heard in connection with the prevailing demand for happy endings - or at least endings that if not exactly happy still exalt you and 'make you feel that the world is coming out all right.' Many people in Middletown would agree with their favorite poet, Edgar Guest,* in condemning people who condone 'sin or unhappiness' in fiction by saying, 'The book is sordid, but it's art!'"
* "'Eddie' Guest is more widely read in Middletown than any other poet, with Riley as runner-up in popularity. Rotary has tried to secure him as a speaker, as has the Men's Club in a leading church. In a group of college-trained men prominent in local life, one said that 'Eddie' Guest and Riley were his favorite poets, 'That man Guest certainly gets to my heart'; one liked Kipling, 'never could get Burns, and Byron always seemed a dirty fellow dressed up in poetic form'; while a third prefers Kipling and 'never could get Browning. Why didn't he say it in prose instead of the awful way he did?'"
- Robert and Helen Lynd, Middletown: A Study in American Culture (1929)
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