Anderson, Sherwood. (1876 - 1941).
L i f e
- born in Ohio, settled in Clyde = imaginatively transformed into Winesburg
- received little formal education, appreciated the oral tradition, and his father’s story-telling
- became a successful businessman x but: once disappeared from his office, and appeared confused several days later somewhere else
- repudiated the business world, and became obsessed with the experience of a sudden self-discovery (epiphany)
W o r k
- depended on an inspiration unable to direct: struggled with a logical succession of time, and tended to present all together as in a dream
- never wrote a book with a strict structure and development (except for his Winesburg): wrote as a flash of lightning revealing a life without changing it
F i c t i o n :
Winesburg, Ohio (1919):
< structurally indebted to Turgenev, E. L. Masters’s Spoon River Anthology, G. Stein’s Three Lives, and J. Joyce’s Dubliners: experimental both in technique and aesthetics
- a series of 23 tales unified by the setting, tone, and the central character of George Willard
- the “Book of the Grotesque” = the characters experience the small town no more as a source of virtue and moral strength x but: a source of a small-town paralysis, and a kind of living death
- Winesburg = a town of solitary persons (= grotesques), incapable of expressing themselves, and becoming emotional cripples
- George Willard = attracts most of the characters seeking help x but: cannot help them for his youth
- conclusion: suggests that after leaving the town he will become the voice of all the inarticulate men and women in all the forgotten towns
(a) explores the loneliness of the modern world as manifested in the cultural, social, and spiritual impoverishment of the small-town America
(b) attempts to break down the walls dividing one person from another
(c) celebrates the small-town life in the lost days of good will and innocence
- criticized as a morbidly sexual work
> “Adventure”, “Hands”, “Introduction”, “Tandy”, “The Strength of God”, “The Teacher”, “The Untold Lie”, & others
> enormously influenced the development of the American short story: William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses; Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time; and Jean Toomer’s Cane
Poor White (1920):
- an aspiring Midwestern inventor realises his industrial genius x but: destroys the environment
Dark Laughter (1925):
< influenced by Gertrude Stein: his most experimental novel
Beyond Desire (1932)
N o n - f i c t i o n :
Perhaps Women (1931) and Puzzled America (1935):
- collections of essays on the American industrial and rural conditions
(Photo: Carl Van Vechten. 1933. Source: Wikipedia).
AuthorSherwood Anderson. (1876 - 1941). American.
WorkNovelist. Author of Winesburg, Ohio (1919).
Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.
Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.
McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.
Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.
Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.
"In the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were truths and they were all beautiful".
From "The Book of the Grotesque" in Winesburg, Ohio (1919).
"Everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified".
From "The Philosopher" in Winesburg, Ohio (1919).