Sherwood Anderson, remembered chiefly as a writer of short stories about life in the Midwest at the turn of the century, was acknowledged as an innovator of the short story form. This book looks at Anderson's early fiction from contemporary interpretative methodologies, particularly from poststructuralist approaches.
The Progressive Era, a few brief decades around the turn of the last century, still burns in American memory for its outsized personalities: Theodore Roosevelt, whose energy glinted through his pince-nez; Carry Nation, who smashed saloons with her axe and helped stop an entire nation from drinking; women suffragists, who marched in the streets until they finally achieved the vote; Andrew Carnegie and the super-rich, who spent unheard-of sums of money and became the wealthiest class of Americans since the Revolution. Yet the full story of those decades is far more than the sum of its characters. In Michael McGerr's A Fierce Discontent America's great political upheaval is brilliantly explored as the root cause of our modern political malaise. The Progressive Era witnessed the nation's most convulsive upheaval, a time of radicalism far beyond the Revolution or anything since. In response to the birth of modern America, with its first large-scale businesses, newly dominant cities, and an explosion of wealth, one small group of middle-class Americans seized control of the nation and attempted to remake society from bottom to top. Everything was open to question -- family life, sex roles, race relations, morals, leisure pursuits, and politics. For a time, it seemed as if the middle-class utopians would cause a revolution. They accomplished an astonishing range of triumphs. From the 1890s to the 1910s, as American soldiers fought a war to make the world safe for democracy, reformers managed to outlaw alcohol, close down vice districts, win the right to vote for women, launch the income tax, take over the railroads, and raise feverish hopes of making new men and women for a new century. Yet the progressive movement collapsed even more spectacularly as the war came to an end amid race riots, strikes, high inflation, and a frenzied Red scare. It is an astonishing and moving story. McGerr argues convincingly that the expectations raised by the progressives' utopian hopes have nagged at us ever since. Our current, less-than-epic politics must inevitably disappoint a nation that once thought in epic terms. The New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the Great Society, and now the war on terrorism have each entailed ambitious plans for America; and each has had dramatic impacts on policy and society. But the failure of the progressive movement set boundaries around the aspirations of all of these efforts. None of them was as ambitious, as openly determined to transform people and create utopia, as the progressive movement. We have been forced to think modestly ever since that age of bold reform. For all of us, right, center, and left, the age of "fierce discontent" is long over.
In White Collar Fictions Christopher P. Wilson explores how turn-of-the-century literary representations of "white collar" Americans--the "middle" social strata H.L. Mencken dismissed as boobus Americanus--were actually part and parcel of a new social class coming to terms with its own power, authority, and contradictions. An innovative study that integrates literary analysis with social-history research, the book reexamines the life and work of Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis--as well as such nearly forgotten authors as O. Henry, Edna Ferber, Robert Grant, and Elmer Rice. Between 1885 and 1925 America underwent fundamental social changes. The family business faded with the rise of the modern corporation; mid-level clerical work grew rapidly; the "white collar" ranks--sales clerks, accountants, lawyers, advertisers, "middle managers, and professionals--expanded between capital and labor. During this same period, Wilson shows, white collar characters took on greater prominence within American literature and popular culture. Magazines like the Saturday Evening Post idolized "average Americans," while writers such as Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis produced portraits of "middle America" in Winesburg, Ohio and Babbitt. By investigating the material experience and social vocabularies within white collar life itself, Wilson uncovers the ways in which writers helped create a new cultural vocabulary--"Babbittry," the "little people," the "Average American"--That served to redefine power, authority, and commonality in American society.
Sherwood Anderson: An American Career is the first critical introduction to this important Midwestern and American writer in over a quarter century. While reevaluating the accomplishments in Winesburg, Ohio and Anderson's other novels and short stories, it pays more attention to his non-fictional, autobiographical, and journalistic writing than do previous studies. It draws on unpublished manuscripts in the Newberry Library Anderson papers that shed new light on a prolific career, manuscripts such as Talbott Whittingham and An Ohio Paper.
All autobiographers are unreliable narrators. Yet what a writer chooses to misrepresent is as telling -- perhaps even more so -- as what really happened. Timothy Adams believes that autobiography is an attempt to reconcile one's life with one's self, and he argues in this book that autobiography should not be taken as historically accurate but as metaphorically authentic. Adams focuses on five modern American writers whose autobiographies are particularly complex because of apparent lies that permeate them. In examining their stories, Adams shows that lying in autobiography, especially literary autobiography, is not simply inevitable. Rather it is often a deliberate, highly strategic decision on the author's part. Throughout his analysis, Adams's standard is not literal accuracy but personal authenticity. He attempts to resolve some of the paradoxes of recent autobiographical theory by looking at the classic question of design and truth in autobiography from the underside -- with a focus on lying rather than truth. Originally published in 1990. A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.
This first-ever encyclopedia of the Midwest seeks to embrace this large and diverse area, to give it voice, and help define its distinctive character. Organized by topic, it encourages readers to reflect upon the region as a whole. Each section moves from the general to the specific, covering broad themes in longer introductory essays, filling in the details in the shorter entries that follow. There are portraits of each of the region's twelve states, followed by entries on society and culture, community and social life, economy and technology, and public life. The book offers a wealth of information about the region's surprising ethnic diversity -- a vast array of foods, languages, styles, religions, and customs -- plus well-informed essays on the region's history, culture and values, and conflicts. A site of ideas and innovations, reforms and revivals, and social and physical extremes, the Midwest emerges as a place of great complexity, signal importance, and continual fascination.
In ""American Silences"", Joseph Anthony Ward offers a unique analysis of the use and effects of silence in modern American realistic art. Beginning with the nineteenth-century literature that laid the foundation for silence in art, he moves to a brief analysis of Sherwood Anderson's ""Winesburg"", Ohio and Ernest Hemingway's ""In Our Time"", showing how they, along with several other crucial works of twentieth-century American realism, incorporate the power of the silent into their expression without sacrificing the subjects and techniques of traditional realism. Examining ""Let Us Now Praise Famous Men"", James Agee's commentary on the life of tenant farmers, documented with photographs by Walker Evans, Ward traces the book's pattern of 'silence, then silence disturbed by sound, and ultimately silence restored'. Ward further supports his theory with a study of Agee's ""A Death in the Family"" and Evans' ""American Photographs"". Ward sees Agee's admiration of photography as a connection between the silence of the scenes he writes about and the silence of Evans' photographs. The use of silence is perhaps even more obvious in the paintings of Edward Hopper. Although throughout the book Ward suggests both the positive and negative qualities of silence in art, Hopper's paintings provide little in the way of postiveness. For Ward, the art of silence is an art of extreme concentration that seeks essences rather than superficiality that nearly transcends realism itself. The theme of silence in American realism is a significant new one, but Ward's interpretation of the prose and his analysis of the photographs and paintings, many of which are reproduced in this book, establish validity for art as the voice of silence.
This is a study of the most paradoxical aspect of modernism, its obsession with the past. Eliot wrote that the artist must be conscious "not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence." This creed permeated the movement: Modernists believed that the energies of the past could be resurrected in modern works, and that they could be the very force that makes those works modern: the urge of Pound and others to "make it new" stemmed from seeing the past as a source of renewal. Schneidau focuses on separate texts that incorporate these concepts: Joyce's Ulysses, Hardy's poems, Forster's Howards End, Conrad's Secret Agent, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, and finally Pound's Cantos. In his discussions, many little-noticed connections are examined, including a transatlantic set: Hardy with Pound, Forster with Fitzgerald, Joyce and Lawrence with Anderson.