There is something you can do. Even if you are not actually practicing writers, you can employ something of the writer’s technique. When you are puzzled about your own life, as we all are most of the time, you can throw imagined figures of others against a background very like your own, put these imagined figures through situations in which you have been involved. It is a very comforting thing to do, a great relief at times, this occasionally losing sense of self, living in these imagined figures. This thing we call self, as I said here in a talk the other evening, is often very like a disease. It seems to sap you, take something from you, destroy your relationship with others, while even occasionally losing sense of self seems to give you an understanding that you didn’t have before you became absorbed.
May it not be that all the people we know are only what we imagine them to be? If, for example, you are as I was at the time of which I am now speaking, a business man, on the whole spending my time seeking my own advantage, you lose interest, while, as opposed to this, as you lose yourself in others, life immediately becomes more interesting. A new world seems to open out before you. Your imagination becomes constantly more and more alive.
It would be difficult to find two better or more representative stories by Sherwood Anderson than ‘Adventure’ and ‘Death in the Woods.’ Included here, along with one of Anderson’s more provocative critical essays and an excellent introduction by Professor Welford D. Taylor, they make this small volume a treasure for first-time readers of a fascinating but too-much-neglected American author.
–Hilbert H. Campbell
Welford D. Taylor
Welford D. Taylor is Professor Emeritus at the University of Richmond, where he held the James A. Bostwick Chair in English. He has written and edited numerous volumes on American art and literature, including The Woodcut Art of J. J. Lankes and Southern Odyssey: Selected Writings by Sherwood Anderson. He is also currently finishing work on a collection of biographic essays entitled Sherwood Anderson Remembered.
Sherwood Anderson was born in Camden, Ohio, in 1876, and died in 1941. A prolific writer of novels, plays, and poetry, he is best known for his short stories, especially the collection Winesburg, Ohio, published in 1919. Today he is considered one the progenitors of a literary style later explored by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and many others.
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