Sherwood Anderson wrote ‘‘Sophistication’’ as part of his novel Winesburg, Ohio, which was first published in 1919. For four years, living alone in an apartment in Chicago, he had worked steadily on the stories comprising the longer work, having been inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology and Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives. ‘‘Sophistication,’’ one of the final three chapters of Winesburg, Ohio, though part of a larger work, has often been interpreted by critics and readers as an independent story. Early reviewers said that the story reveals the secrets and hopes of George Willard and Helen White through its use of clear, conversational diction and graphic description of setting. Critics also noted that the character of George was a not-well-disguised portrait of Anderson himself. In the story, George hopes to fulfill his dream of becoming a thoughtful writer, not a ‘‘mere peddler of words,’’ as one of his teachers puts it. Back home during a summer festival, George visits Helen White again. With her encouragement, he seeks to escape peer pressure from old and young citizens of the town by undertaking the rites of passage that every young person must endure. From initial praise by reviewers in the early 1920s, through a lapse of attention through the 1930s and on to the present day, both the short story and the novel of which it is a part have become minor American classics that evoke the stifling nature of small-town life in the early twentieth century.