Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Fiction, Classics, Literary (Paperback)
No sooner did Winesburg, Ohio make its appearance than a number of critical labels were fixed on it: the revolt against the village, the espousal of sexual freedom, the deepening of American realism. Such tags may once have had their point, but by now they seem dated and stale. The revolt against the village (about which Anderson was always ambivalent) has faded into history. The espousal of sexual freedom would soon be exceeded in boldness by other writers. And as for the effort to place Winesburg, Ohio in a tradition of American realism, that now seems dubious. Only rarely is the object of Anderson's stories social verisimilitude, or the "photographing" of familiar appearances, in the sense, say, that one might use to describe a novel by Theodore Dreiser or Sinclair Lewis. Only occasionally, and then with a very light touch, does Anderson try to fill out the social arrangements of his imaginary town -- although the fact that his stories are set in a mid-American place like Winesburg does constitute an important formative condition.