Winesburg, Ohio

Literary significance and criticism

The critical reception to Winesburg, Ohio upon its publication in 1919 was mostly positive,[93][94] even effusive. Hart Crane, for example, wrote that "...America should read this book on her knees,"[95] while H.L. Mencken wrote that Winesburg, Ohio "...embodies some of the most remarkable writing done in America in our time".[96] Despite criticism that Anderson’s "sordid tales"[31] were humorless,[29] and " plotlessness",[93] Winesburg, Ohio did well enough that it was reprinted several times, selling a total of about 3,000 copies by 1921.[note 3]

The popularity of Winesburg, Ohio among readers and critics has remained fairly high, only fluctuating slightly with Sherwood Anderson’s literary reputation[94] which, while steady through the 1920s, began to decline in the 1930s,[97] until William L. Phillips, following the lukewarm reception of The Letters of Sherwood Anderson in 1953, commented that "...Anderson is out of fashion."[98] Throughout that decade, however, the author and his most popular book were the subject of a ", if only as a neglected literary ancestor of the moderns."[99] Into the 1960s and beyond, this "re-examination" became a "reevaluation"[99] by critics who today generally consider Winesburg, Ohio a modern classic.[94]

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