Books by Sherwood Anderson

Quotes by Sherwood Anderson
Everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified.
On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy's hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all of its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.
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.
Sherwood Anderson's Biography
Writer whose prose style, derived from everyday speech, influenced American short story writing between World Wars I and II. Anderson made his name as a leading naturalistic writer with his masterwork, WINESBURG, OHIO (1919), a picture of life in a typical small Midwestern town, as seen through the eyes of its inhabitants. Anderson's episodic bildungsroman has been compared often to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology.

Sherwood Anderson was born in Camden, Ohio. His parents led a transient life, moving from one place to another after work. His father had served in the Union Army but eventually ended up keeping a small harness-repair shop and then working as a house-and-barn painter, though calling himself a "sign-writer". Anderson attended school only intermittently, while helping to support the family by working as a newsboy, housepainter, stock handler, and stable groom. At the age of 17 Anderson moved to Chicago. There he attended business classes at night, and spent his days as a warehouse laborer. In 1895 he joined the National Guard. During the Spanish-American war Anderson fought in Cuba. "I prefer yellow fever in Cuba to living in cold storage in Chicago," he wrote to his brother Karl. After the war Anderson returned to Ohio, for a final year of schooling at Wittenberg College, Springfield.

For the next few years Anderson moved restlessly around Ohio. From 1904 his life calmed down for some time with marriage to Cornelia Lane, a college-educated woman of prosperous family, and with work as a paint manufacturer in Elyria. Anderson had began to write fiction, and after suffering an emotional collapse, during which he wandered four days around Cleveland, he moved to Chicago. Later Anderson claimed, that his wife was unsympathetic to his attempts at writing. However, most likely Cornelia's attitude was encouraging, overall – she held advanced beliefs, was interested in literature, attended concerts, and contributed a paper on 'Social Conditions in Russia' for the Fortnightly Club. Anderson took a job as a copy-writer at the Taylor-Critchfield Advertising Company, visiting his family on weekends. In Chicago he joined the so-called Chicago Group, which included such writers as Theodore Dreiser and Carl Sandburg. In 1914, Anderson divorced and married then Tennessee Mitchell, a sculptor and musician, who had ended her relationship with Edgar Lee Masters.

Anderson's two first novels were WINDY MCPHERSON'S SON (1916) and MARCHING MEN (1917), both containing the psychological themes of inner lives of Midwestern villages, the pursuit of success and disillusionment. His third novel, Winesburg, Ohio, was "half individual tales, half long novel form", as the author himself described it. It consisted of twenty-three thematically related sketches and stories. Written in a simple, realistic language illuminated by a muted lyricism, Anderson dramatized crucial episodes in the lives of his characters. The narrative is united by the appearance of George Willard, a young reporter, who is in revolt against the narrowness of the small-town life and who acts as a counterpoint to the other people of the town. The individual tales of Winesburg, Ohio, and Anderson's other collections of short stories, THE TRIUMPHS OF THE EGG (1921), HORSES AND MEN (1932), and DEATH IN THE WOODS (1933), directed the American short story away from the neatly plotted tales of O. Henry and his imitators. The stories in these books are characterized by a casual development, complexity of motivation, and an interest in psychological process.

In 1921 Anderson received the first Dial Award for his contribution to American literature. He travelled widely in Europe – in Paris he met Gertrude Stein, whose work he much admired. "She is an American woman of the old sort, one who cares for the handmade goodies and who scorns the factory-made foods, and in her own great kitchen she is making something with her materials, something sweet to the tongue and fragrant to the nostrils." After Anderson returned back to the United States, he settled in New Orleans, where he shared an apartment with William Faulkner. Anderson helped Faulkner to publish his first novel, Soldier's Pay (1926).

After separating from Tennessee Mitchell, Anderson married in 1923 Elizabeth Prall, who had worked as a bookstore manager in New York; also Anderson's third marriage broke down but with Eleanor Copenhaver, a social worker, he managed to maintain a stable family life. Their love letters were published in 1991. With encouragement from Eleanor, Anderson began in 1933 compiling notes for his memoirs.

Anderson's novel DARK LAUGHTER (1925) became a bestseller. In the story the disillusioned protagonist travels down the Missisippi imagining the kind of book Mark Twain might now write. From New Orleans Anderson moved to New York for some time, and from there finally to Marion, Virginia, where he built a country house, and worked as a farmer and journalist. He travelled again in Europe and wrote to his son John, a young painter: "I've a notion that, in America, you will be less bothered with homosexuality inclined men. However the arts have always been a refuge for such men. They are, as I think you have guessed, the less vigorous men. There is some distinct challenge of life they do not want to meet, and can't meet." In 1927 he bought both of Marion's weekly newspapers, one Republican, one Democrat, and edited them for two years. Anderson wrote columns under the pen name Buck Fever. To earn extra income he continued his series of lectures throughout the country. When Anderson separated from Elizabeth Prall in 1929, he gave the editionship of the newspapers to his son Robert. Commissioned by Today magazine, Anderson studied the labour conditions during the Depression and published his articles in PUZZLED AMERICA (1935). Anderson's newspaper pieces were collected in HELLO TOWNS (1929), RETURN TO WINESBURG (1967) and THE BUCK FEVER PAPERS (1971).

Anderson was among the earliest American writers, who responded to Freud's theories, and his best works influenced almost every important American writer of the next generation. He also encouraged William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway in their writing aspirations, although they eventually turned against him. Hemingway parodied Anderson's style in The Torrents of Spring (1926). Stein declared that Anderson was "a much more origial writer" than Hemingway.

Anderson died of peritonitis on an unofficial good-will tour to South America, at Christobal, Canal Zone, on March 8, in 1941. He had swallowed in New York a three-inch toothpick in the olive of one of his martins, and boarded then the Grace Line's Santa Maria bound to Panama. Anderson fell seriously ill on the ship. At his autopsy it was found that the toothpick had projected through the lower part of the colon into the the abdominal cavity. Anderson was buried at Round Hill Cemetery in Marion.

After his death, Anderson's reputation soon declined, but in the 1970s, scholars and critics found a new interest in his work. During his lifetime Anderson wrote two autobiographical works, A STORY-TELLER'S STORY (1924) and semi-fictional TAR: A MIDWEST CHILDHOOD (1926). His MEMOIRS (1942) and LETTERS (1953) were published posthumously, as the more definitive THE MEMOIRS OF SHERWOOD ANDERSON (1969). In A Story-Teller Story the author explained why he disregarded dates in his autobiographies: "I think it was Joseph Conrad who said that a writer only began to live after he began to write. It pleased me to think I was after all but ten years old. Plenty of time ahead for such a one. Time to look about, plenty of time to look about."

Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008

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