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Winesburg, Ohio ~ A Capsule Book Review

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Winesburg, Ohio ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

Winesburg, Ohio by American writer Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) is a collection of short stories first published in 1919. While each story stands on its own, with different characters in each story, the stories together form a single, novel-like unit. The only character to appear, at least briefly, in most of the stories is George Willard, a young newspaper reporter on the only newspaper in the small town of Winesburg. George’s father owns the only hotel in town. George’s mother, who is the main character in one of the stories, is unhappy and dies at an early age. George longs to escape the small town of Winesburg and venture to the big city where he plans to pursue a writing career.

Each of the twenty-two stories in Winesburg, Ohio is about a specific character’s struggle to overcome the loneliness and isolation that are part of small-town life in the early twentieth century. Because of its emphasis on psychological insights over plot, Winesburg, Ohio is one of the earliest works of Modernist literature, the literary movement that was about overturning traditional modes of representation and expressing the new sensibilities of changing times.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

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One response »

  1. Mr. Kopp, In this review of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, OH. goes to the heart of any individual who has spent their young life being tossed between one small railroad town and a twin city of another State, named after Hart Benton, and this is the basis of the struggle. The rural town, railroad of the UP is dying, transportation by the Trucking Industry among other reasons for the town’s smallness and angst. To live in that hole as I call it, the number of relatives of a dad – not one of his miscast children care about that style of life or small mindedness, where a child growing to young adulthood is told how unimportant the “red haired woman’s children” are to the large German Jewish family.
    Seems like the characters you have mentioned in the book review tend to make me feel that somehow my life is in that series of stories. But the grace of the individuals and narratives on their closed in lives, how may one who has these feelings expressed through the book review and reading of the short glib on each one, the repressiveness of that set of characters by Sherwood Anderson, makes me cringe. Yet moving from the railroad town to twin cities set on Lake Michigan, the number of family there of the “red haired woman” was dwindling, the neighborhood of people we as children called Aunts and Uncles, their relationships with us and our immediate family seem to evaporate, no communication after the small town died. Even moving on to the sister city on the Lake made little difference. Life was moving on in the USA and so the families of the old towns that just slowly lost any meaning.
    Well I enjoyed this review and look forward to more of your various types of characters and plots/elements of what makes the short story or book review worth reading.

    Reply

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