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Winesburg, Ohioby Sherwood Anderson
Synopses & Reviews
Published in 1919, Winesburg, Ohio is Sherwood Anderson’s masterpiece, a work in which he achieved the goal to which he believed all true writers should aspire: to see and feel “all of life within.” In a perfectly imagined world, an archetypal small American town, he reveals the hidden passions that turn ordinary lives into unforgettable ones. Unified by the recurring presence of young George Willard, and played out against the backdrop of Winesburg, Anderson’s loosely connected chapters, or stories, coalesce into a powerful novel.
In such tales as “Hands,” the portrayal of a rural berry picker still haunted by the accusations of homosexuality that ended his teaching career, Anderson’s vision is as acute today as it was over eighty-five years ago. His intuitive ability to home in on examples of timeless, human conflicts—a workingman deciding if he should marry the woman who is to bear his child, an unhappy housewife who seeks love from the town’s doctor, an unmarried high school teacher sexually attracted to a pupil—makes this book not only immensely readable but also deeply meaningful. An important influence on Faulkner, Hemingway, and others who were drawn to Anderson’s innovative format and psychological insights, Winesburg, Ohio deserves a place among the front ranks of our nation’s finest literary achievements.
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
From the Hardcover edition.
Here is] a new order of short story, said H.L. Mencken when Winesburg, Ohio was published in 1919. It is so vivid, so full of insight, soshiningly life-like and glowing, that the book is lifted into a category all its own. Indeed, Sherwood Anderson's timeless cycle of loosely connected tales--in which a young reporter namedGeorge Willard probes the hopes, dreams, and fears of the solitary people in a small Midwestern town at the turn of the century--embraced a new frankness and realism that ushered American literature into the modernage.
There are moments in American life to which Anderson gave not only the first but the final expression, wrote MalcolmCowley. Winesburg, Ohio is far from the pessimistic or morbidly sexual work it was once attacked for being. Instead it is a work of love, an attempt tobreak down the walls of loneliness, and, in its own fashion, a celebration of small-town life in the lost days of good will and innocence.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) spent most of his boyhood in Clyde, Ohio, the model for Winesburg, Ohio. And like the central figure of that work, Anderson left small-town life behind after his mother’s death, when he was nineteen. After serving in the Spanish-American War, the mostly self-taught Anderson became successful advertising copywriter in Chicago. Then in 1912, torn between his responsibilities and his drive to create, he had a breakdown that has become legendary. Having become the owner of a small factory, Anderson abruptly walked from his office and wandered about for four days in a trancelike state before ending up in an Ohio hospital. Realizing he must devote his life to writing, he finally broke with his wife and family and joined Carl Sandburg and Theodore Dreiser, who were at the core of Chicago’s literary group. By 1925, Anderson had demonstrated such talent that H.L. Mencken called him “America’s most distinguished novelist.” A mentor of William Faulkner and Thomas Wolfe, Anderson was known for his colloquial style and his exploration of gender and sexuality in relationships. His works of fiction include Windy McPherson’s Son (1916); Poor White (1920); The Triumph of the Egg (1921), a short-story collection; and Dark Laughter (1925). Also important are his autobiographical works: A Story Teller’s Story (1924), Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926), and Sherwood Anderson’s Memoirs (1942). He died of peritonitis on a trip abroad when a broken toothpick perforated his intestines.
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