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Just Listen Podcast: Winesburg, Ohio - Hands

winesburg_ohio_-_hands_v2.mp3

Winesburg, Ohio is a 1919 short story cycle by the American author Sherwood Anderson.

The book consists of twenty-two stories, with the first story, "The Book of the Grotesque,” serving as an introduction. Each of the stories shares a specific character's past and present struggle to overcome the loneliness and isolation that seems to permeate the town. Stylistically, because of its emphasis on the psychological insights of characters over plot, and its plain-spoken prose, Winesburg, Ohio is known as one of the earliest works of Modernist literature..

Winesburg, Ohio was received well by critics despite some reservations about its moral tone and unconventional storytelling. Though its reputation waned in the 1930s, it has since rebounded and is now considered one of the most influential portraits of pre-industria small-town life in the United States. In 1998, the Modern Library  ranked Winesburg, Ohio 24th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Our first story from this cycle is entitled “Hands.”   In his Memoirs, Sherwood Anderson says that he wrote "Hands" at one sitting on a dark, snowy night in Chicago. It was, he says, his "first authentic tale," so good that he laughed, cried, and shouted out of his boarding house window. "No word of it was ever changed," says Anderson.  Not everyone was in agreement with him, and many criticized his book as a “sewer,” and the author as “sex-obsessed.”

“Hands,” by Sherwood Anderson…we begin….