Walter Rideout
Sherwood Anderson: A Writer in America.
University of Wisconsin Press, Vol. I, 833 pages, $60; Vol. II, 466 pages, $60.

Published in 1919, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio brought the small town to American readers in a form not seen before in our fiction. In what Edmund Wilson described as “a series of simple declarative sentences of almost primer-like baldness,” Anderson exposed the hidden struggles of ordinary people with little hope for redemption. His collection of linked stories made his name at forty-three. No other book of Anderson’s would fulfill as completely his considerable promise as a lyric, candid observer of American intimacies.

Anderson, an Ohioan, was born to small-town poverty in 1876. “I was myself a man outside the schools,” he commented, who felt that “writing, the telling of tales, had got too far away from...

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