Winesburg, Ohio has the stature of a modern classic. It is at once beautiful and tragic, realistic and poetic. Without constituting a novel in the usual sense of the word, the connected stories that make up the work have the full range and emotional impact of a novel. In simple though highly skillful and powerful language, Sherwood Anderson tells the story of a small town and the lonely, frustrated people who live there. Although regional in its setting and characters, the book is also intensely American. No one since Anderson has succeeded in interpreting the inner compulsions and loneliness of the national psyche with the same degree of accuracy and emotional impact.
Using young George Willard as protagonist and observer, Anderson creates his probing psychological portrait of small-town America. Although his characters outwardly seem dull and commonplace, Anderson is acutely tuned to the tensions between their psychological and emotional needs and the restrictions placed on their lives by the small-town atmosphere of Winesburg. Although not methodically psychoanalytical, Anderson’s work probes deeply into the psychological lives of the characters to discover the emotional wounds that have been inflicted by the puritanical attitudes of the midwestern village. Anderson may not have been directly influenced by Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung, but his interests clearly parallel the interest in psychology among American intellectuals during the first...
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