It was just a matter of time. I knew that sooner or later, someone would take up the fascinating topic of naturist fiction for a doctoral dissertation! PhD candidate Sandy Bottoms has graciously reached out to me to provide a summary of her main points in the dissertation she will soon be defending in the English department at the prestigious Brenn University. It is such an honor for my naturist fiction colleagues and me to have the strong light of literary criticism shone in such a thorough way at our work, not unlike the sunshine that illumines so completely the body of the naturist!
Ms. Bottoms has applied her critical and theoretical acumen to a broad range of our works. She begins by grounding the field in the lucid writings of Brooke Lee Brookleigh’s Nudism: A Pleonastic Tautology (1988): “the natural nature of naturism is to appreciate nature naturally” (p. 183) and “social nudity is a nude society of nudists living socially in the nude” (p. 332). After laying out these inarguable truths, Ms. Bottoms exposes her fundamental argument, the considerable heft of which relies heavily, to no one’s surprise, on French literary theory, in particular the jocund concept of la luminosité (luminosity) as expounded by Georgette Sans-Soutien in her essay Soleil et peau, œil et page [Sun and skin, eye and page] (1962). Luminosity, as Ms. Bottoms explains, pertains to naturist fiction in that the chiaroscuro of the printed black letters on the white page represents the light of the sun creating shadows in “clothed” spaces while illuminating other “nude” spaces in full sunshine. It is this simple point that Ms. Bottoms goes on to elucidate for 1,374 pages, with cogent examples from the works of Walker, Longpré, Bun, Greensage, Pine, Jonathan, Brant, and several others including Forest (yours truly).
In theoretical terms, as Ms. Bottoms shows cheekily, the printed letters “strip” the reader’s consciousness of textile dependency while “revealing” the truth of naturist lifestyle benefits, such as the ability to understand that this is a satirical post. On the matter of satire, Ms. Bottoms positions numerous enlightening passages from The Nude Adventures of Doff de Chonez pa su Mecha in her exegesis of la luminosité. Moreover, although the bulk of her examples are culled from fiction, she does not ignore the luminosity of textual explication in stage plays such as Bodies on the Beach, or poetry such as “Bare-abouts” and “The Tailor.”
Alas, the dissertation was completed before the publication of the new “Nudist Colony” titles (“Romance” and “Murder“); however, Ms. Bottoms assures me that when the dissertation “inevitably” gets published by a top-notch university press, she will diligently update the bibliography and provide more recent and more diverse examples of naturist fiction. When not even Wikipedia will recognize the import of our genre, Ms. Bottoms’ no-doubt-soon-to-be-approved dissertation is a well-seated, well-rounded triumph for us writers of naturist fiction!