Winesburg, Ohio

Tracing the Grotesque: Anderson’s model in Faulkner and Woolf

In "The Book of the Grosteques," the first story of his novel Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson introduces the concept of the “grotesque.” This concept sets up the following stories in the novel, and can also be seen in other modernist texts following the publication of Winesburg, Ohio. Anderson specifically traces the birth of the grotesque back to a time when the world was pure, and a conglomeration of vague thoughts formed beautiful truths: “Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were the truths and they were all beautiful” (Anderson 12-14). However, people began to take up these truths and attempted to make them their own. What resulted was a distortion of these truths: they were turned into lies, and the people themselves became grotesque upon attempting to own these truths. "The moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood” (Anderson 15-17).

In developing his idea of grotesqueness, Anderson not only provides a key into how to read Winesburg, Ohio, but also articulates a way to portray characters by...

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