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Sherwood Anderson - Hemingway's Great Inspiration

Sherwood Anderson is, with each passing year, becoming less and less well known as a writer (he died in 1941), and even less as the great inspiration for Ernest Hemingway, whose style was born out of the lean photographic style that was Anderson's.

For me Anderson's novel of 1919, Winesburg, Ohio, is his best, and one that bears re-reading at least once a year.

Let me quote from it...

" He was an old man with a white beard and huge nose and hands. Long before the time during which we will know him, he was a doctor and drove a jaded white horse from house to house through the streets of Winesburg. Later he married a girl who had money. She had been left a large fertile farm when her father died. The girl was quiet, tall, and dark, and to many people she seemed very beautiful. Everyone in Winesburg wondered why she married the doctor. Within a year after the marriage she died."

Now that is writing of the first order - vivid, controlled, and new; no wonder Anderson took such a keen interest in the early writings of Hemingway, who, sadly, threw all the help Anderson had given him firmly back in the older writers face. The young can be very cruel.

Anderson was born in 1876, in Camden, Ohio. He had a nomadic boyhood, moving from one town to another; " Father never paid his rent...". His mother died when he was fourteen, and as a result Anderson left school for a while, taking on whatever job came his way. After serving in the Spanish-American war he became the manager of a paint factory, a job he left one afternoon to become a writer, quickly becoming associated with the so called 'Chicago School', that included such writers as Carl Sandburg and Theodore Dreiser. Wineburg, Ohio was his first novel.


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