Sherwood Anderson was among the first American authors to explore the influence of the unconscious upon human behavior. A writer of brooding, introspective works, his ”hunger to see beneath the surface of lives” was best expressed in the bittersweet stories which form the classic Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small Town Life (1919). This, his most important book, exhibits the author’s characteristically simple prose style and his personal vision, which combines a sense of won der at the potential beauty of life with despair over its tragic aspects.
In the novel Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, every character visited has their own perception of the world around them, and what life should be like which is often a far from the truth.
Winesburg, Ohio written by Sherwood Anderson – Sample Essays
After a brief stint in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War, Ander son married, became an advertising copywriter in Chicago, and then went on to manage his own paint factory, the Anderson Manufacturing Company, in Elyria, Ohio. His commercial success, however, did not satisfy his awakening artistic aspirations, and he spent his spare time—and a fair amount of company time—writing fiction.
Winesburg, Ohio Hands, Paper Pills, Mother Summary …
In the novel Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, each character sees the world with a different perception of what life should be like, often a distorted perception, and their neurosis is caused by the isolation of the small town.
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Anderson attained recognition as an important new voice in American literature with the appearance of Winesburg, Ohio in 1919. Published the same year that World War I concluded, the book exhibits many of the bleak aspects of modern life that concerned writers after a prolonged period of strife and sorrow. For example, reacting perhaps to the return of shell-shocked soldiers from the trenches of modern warfare (and the renewed interest in psychology they caused), Anderson focuses on individuals rather than on groups, and regards these individuals as isolated and alone. Some critics denounced the book as morbid, depressing, and overly concerned with sex; others, however, praised it for its honesty and depth, com-paring Anderson’s accomplishment with that of Anton Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky in its concern with the buried life of the soul. Commentators noted that Anderson achieved a fusion of simply stated fiction and brooding psychological analysis—”half tale and half psychological anatomizing” was famed critic H. L. Mencken’s description— which reveals the essential loneliness and beauty of ordinary people living out their lives during the twilight days of agrarian America in a fading Ohio town.
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Winesburg, Ohio is one of the most critically discussed books within the American short story tradition. It has been interpreted in a variety of ways: as commentary on social and sexual mores in small town rural America; as an allegory of the sociopolitical changes occurring at the turn of the twentieth century; and, by feminists, as a glimpse of the determined gender roles that stifled women before the Industrial Revolution. In general, however, critics agree that the great strength of the work lies in its use of local color and subtle characterization. Writing in 1927, critic Cleveland B. Chase commented that the novel’s really effective episodes are rarely those that bear directly on the main story; much more often they are detached vignettes, sketches of minor characters, “colorful” episodes inserted to describe a desired atmosphere.