Winesburg, Ohio is a compilation of short tales written by Sherwood Anderson and published as a whole in 1919. The short tales formulate the common themes for the novel as follows: isolation and loneliness, discovery, inhibition, and cultural failure.
In order to examine these themes, Anderson's history must be understood and examined to provide illumination upon why Anderson came to such beliefs about human life. Sherwood Anderson was born on September 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio. In 1884, Anderson and his family moved to the small town of Clyde, Ohio. Clyde, Ohio, is the model for the town of Winesburg. Anderson hated his father because of the lack of love shown to his mother and resented his father because of the humiliation and poverty that his father caused. Two major events shaped the feelings of Anderson about life. First, when he was only nineteen years old, Anderson's mother died, and his family pursued to split apart. Second, after marrying and moving to Elyria, Ohio, Anderson had a mental breakdown due to two things. The pressures of trying to succeed in business and writing and the conflict between his yearning to leave his unhappy marriage to Cornelia and his commitment to his family caused a breakdown that doctors diagnosed as nerve exhaustion. During the mental breakdown, Anderson walked the streets for three days before being hospitalized in Cleveland. Another reason for his beliefs is that he lived in places that contrasted in size. The size of the city overwhelmed him at times, which gave him a feeling of isolation. Anderson, also, despised industrialism because industrialism emitted a more impersonal atmosphere (White).
In "Adventure," Alice Hi...
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...iness, cultural failure and unhappiness help formulate his ideas of people. Anderson was not writing about society in Winesburg, Ohio, but he was writing about people. Anderson conveys the theme of isolation, discovery, inhibition, and cultural failure to manifest the importance of humans, collectively and individually.
Anderson, David D. "Sherwood Anderson's Moments of Insight." Critical Essays on Sherwood Anderson. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981. 155-170.
Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Norton, 1996.
Burbank, Rex. Sherwood Anderson. New Haven: Twayne, 1964.
Walcutt, Charles Child. "Sherwood Anderson: Impressionism and the Buried Life." The Achievement of Sherwood Anderson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966. 158-170.
White, Ray Lewis. Winesburg, Ohio: An Exploration. Boston: Twayne, 1990.
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