Sherwood Anderson: Contribution as American Novelist

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      Born as one of the seven children in Camden, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) completed his education at the age of 14 year, he married and managed a paint factory in Elyria, Ohio. Then, apparently he left family, job and went to pursue his literary career in Chicago where he met the great poets like Carl Sandburg Ben Hecht, and Floyd Dell and others. His father a harness maker was a model for the irresponsible character in his first novel. Windy McPherson published in 1916. Soon he moved to paint factory town of Clyde, Ohio where Anderson had almost all formal schooling he acquired. The emotional cultural and aesthetic desolation of his environment has furnished him with the materials of his rebellion against the mechanization of human beings in industrial culture. The mid-western settlements that two generations earlier had seemed in the American imagination to be springboards to the great Western Dream which became in a part of the national consciousness through writers like Anderson, Lewis etc.

      The young Anderson worked as factory hand, a painter and a stable boy. By the death of his mother, he had thrown to his own sources of livelihood at the age of fourteen. He drifted from job to job and finally joined the army to fight against Cuba in Spanish-American War. To his amazement, he returned as a hero and studied for a year at Wittenberg Academy. Then, he went to Chicago, married and became successful advertising man. Although he became a manager of a factory later, he abandoned everything to become a write. He had a nervous breakdown and hospitalized and then, returned again to Chicago to join his family. He joined the old job of copywriting and published his first novel Windy McPherson’s Son (1916). It was followed by Marching Man (1917)a proletarian novel. He turned to the short story and published Winesburg, Ohio (1919) which became the perfect example of Anderson’s fiction. Poor White (1920), Horses and Men (1923), The Triumph of the Egg (1923), and Dark: Laughter (1925). The other later works are - Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926) and Beyond Desire (1932). His autobiography Story Teller’s Story (1924) and a collection of his letters, and a critical edition of his Memoir followed. The influence of a flat, minimalist prose style, evocative of the bleaker vision of life than had been previously been characteristic of American writing. It can also be seen in the later great writers like Hemingway, and Faullaier. Influenced by Gertrude Stein, he tried to escape the traditional literary dialogue and traditional plots. He attempted to create natural speech rhythms. In turn, he influenced his younger writers like, Hemingway and Faulkner.

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